I remember being at secondary school and being told that by the time I was in the work environment we’d all be paperless. We weren’t! Also when I was working in the City as a PA there was a big commotion about being paperless by a certain year…again we weren’t. But each time we took a step closer to becoming an online world. So as we creep towards being a paperless society, as a small business owner are you ahead of the curve or woefully behind? Digital Organisation for small businesses is essential and can be managed with a few easy steps. So let’s get you organised….
Now there are lots of ways to share your information and being a virtual assistant I have tried lots of them. Gone are the days where you share a word document via email – this is still an option but it’s not the most secure or safe (you could unwittingly get a virus into your machine, someone else could intercept your files, they could get lost in the void!). Also if you aren’t near your main computer or it suddenly dies you will not be able to easily access your work.
So better options are storing your information in a cloud based application with the most obvious being Google Docs. These can be shared via a link or a shared area so that more than one person can easily work on a ‘live’ document and the changes are saved instantly.
If you have to share images or large files via email (sometimes you just have to!) then We Transfer is fantastic for this. Create a free account and you can just drag your larger files into it and send via email and at the other end the person has to download it (and it lets you know they’ve done this) so you can keep track of the process.
Back it up! Always and I can’t stress this enough. I know so many clients who have lost valuable information due to it being lost on a broken machine, accidentally deleted or lost somewhere in the files. It can really disrupt your business so make sure you save all files of importance. Dropbox is a great place to store information from important contracts all the way to best practice manuals. There is also an option to be able to share certain folders with others so for instance…you could share a document with your virtual assistant easily.
Back up your machine – so if something happens you can reboot to an earlier version. This also applies to your website…back it up regularly.
We have to log into so many applications and social media channels it’s hard to remember your passwords. There are lots of great password saving platforms and I use Lastpass as it is great for keeping control of all your passwords and keeping them secure. Again it’s also a great way to share login details with a freelancer or someone in your team without disclosing your password.
It has a nifty feature if you install it on your browser bar of prompting you to save any new passwords you create so you are always up to date.
Use a secure web browser too – I use firefox as it’s secure and covers privacy protection really well. Don’t click on any dodgy looking links or links you’ve not asked for. If at any time you are unsure then go back to the original source and click it from there.
Now this is one you need to get on board with sooner rather than later. All HMRC returns and reports are moving to online filing and it will be law soon. So it’s a great time to get on board and instead of using a spreadsheet to keep in control, move to an online accounting platform. Not only will your information be secure but it will also make your tax return a less stressful experience.
Lots of free programs exist for small business owners to get started – two of my favourites are Wave Apps and Rhino Apps. As your business grows it’s a good idea to move towards paid platforms such as Xero or Quickbooks.
At the end of the week it’s a great idea to clear your downloads and then clear out your computer trash. This way any information you’ve downloaded or shared will not get into the wrong hands or clog up your machine. This is something I’m particularly hot on as lots of clients share their information with me and I need to make sure I’m protecting them.
With every platform or application it’s important to be secure and most developers now put two factor authentication on their platforms. So use it. It’s an extra faff I know but it’s also less faff than loosing all your information and having to start again.
Staying Digitally Organised
If these suggestions seem overwhelming then just start with using one and work from there. Once you move over to digital organisation you will never look back as you’ll be able to work more flexibly and become more organised.
If you need someone to organise your small business and help you set up digital best practice then I’d love to help. Please drop me a line with what you want and we can get started on streamlining your small business.