How to Get Organized
Getting organized may not seem that interesting, or maybe you don’t think it’s a top priority for your creative business right now, but Ben Franklin was onto something: it can increase your profits. Are you interested now? I thought so. Business mentor Peleg Top has taught creative business owners worldwide how to run a profitable company, and he can help you too. His article “Get Organized & Increase Your Profits” will teach you how to get organized, how to organize your time and how to work more efficiently. Sound pretty good? You can read an excerpt of the article below. The complete article with organization tips is available on ArtistsMarketOnline.com or in the 2015 Photographer’s Market and Artist’s & Graphic Designer’s Market.
Keep creating and good luck!
Get Organized & Increase Your Profits by Peleg Top
Creative business owners aren’t always the most organized, but they can reap big benefits with a more efficient workspace. Learn how to transform your business and earn greater profits with these organization systems.
After a Thanksgiving dinner at my house, I swore I would never do it again. I had no idea what it took to feed fourteen people a traditional turkey dinner with all the proper fixings. And I didn’t see the seriousness of the situation until it was too late: An hour before guests were to arrive, the turkey wasn’t in the oven, the kitchen looked like a small tornado had just passed through it, and I’d spent almost double the amount of money it would cost had I simply ordered a precooked dinner from the supermarket.
At the end of the evening, all I wanted to do was fall into a deep coma and never see my kitchen again. I hardly enjoyed the food or the time with my guests because I was busy putting out fires in the kitchen.
If I had planned my time better, organized my kitchen, and been more aware of the costs involved, I could have avoided this disaster. I vowed to never have that kind of a day again. In fact, I promised to completely change the way I ran my kitchen.
Unfortunately, the degree of my disorganization had to get to a point where I had worked myself to exhaustion for me to grasp the seriousness of the situation. I knew there had to be a better way. But the real wake-up call came the following Monday morning when I realized that similar stress and frustrations existed in my business. My office was a mess. I was working way too many hours, and I wasn’t making money. My kitchen was simply a reflection of what was going on in the rest of my life. What was missing in both my business and my kitchen was efficiency. If my business were better organized and had efficient systems in place, I could have less stress and make more money.
Luckily, the symptoms of an inefficient and unorganized business aren’t hard to recognize. Are you and your team working overtime or around the clock? Is your inbox out of control? Are the freedom and income you desire absent from your business? If you answered “yes” to any of these, your business is missing efficient systems and processes.
Since my Thanksgiving debacle, I have applied several strategies in both my kitchen and business that can help you get organized and increase your efficiency as well. Running a kitchen is no different from running a business. A good kitchen is well-designed, organized, clean, and prepped for a successful cooking experience. In the same way, you, your business and your customers will have a better experience once you take steps to be more organized.
Efficiency describes the extent to which time, effort, or cost are well-used for the intended task, purpose, or goal. The ultimate result of being efficient is being more effective. Efficiency is a measurable concept, quantitatively determined by the ratio of output to input. The output is the result, and the input is the cost. Peter E. Drucker, the well-known management consultant, educator, and author, said it best: “Efficiency is doing things right, while effectiveness is doing the right things.”
It’s a simple equation: Lower input (cost and maintenance) equals higher output (profits). To develop this mind-set, ask yourself, “How can I get this done right and spend the least amount of time, energy, and money?” You should consider this question before embarking on any activity that influences the results of your business. Every system and process in your business should point at making things more efficient and productive.
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I recently asked my client, who owns a ten-person creative agency with billings of approximately $1 million per year, “Why are you in business?” He rattled off a bunch of noble answers that related to his mission and purpose and his love of design, but the one thing that he didn’t mention was “to be profitable.” He was barely paying himself, working crazy hours, and experiencing stress and anxiety on a daily basis. Relief was nowhere in sight.
The first time I walked into his office, his very large executive desk was covered with piles of papers and random objects. That was the first indication of the state his business was in. The more we examined his processes, his pricing, and his structure, the more waste we discovered. He was running his business like an amateur. Unless you have profit on your mind, your reality could look like his. Within a year, he learned to become efficiency-minded and ran his agency like a pro. His profit margin went up by 18 percent, and he got his life back.
Profits are the benefits and gains from owning your own business. And profitability isn’t measured only by your bank balance. It’s also measured by your gains in time and energy. In other words, you’re truly profitable when you take home more money, you work fewer hours, and you expend less energy. Isn’t that the freedom we all want to derive from owning a business?
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ORGANIZATION IS KEY
Many business owners think that being organized is the same as being efficient. It’s not. Though it has many facets, being organized is mainly about having tools in place and arranging them for easy access. Being efficient means that results are produced in the simplest way possible. Organization promotes efficiency. Efficiency boosts productivity, which will ultimately increase your profits.
Once you’ve developed your systems and processes, you’ll need to maintain them so you don’t fall back into old patterns. Organization is not a one-time event. It’s an ongoing practice that needs to be part of your day-to-day operations. While being organized isn’t a natural trait for many creative professionals, with effort, patience, mindfulness, and practice, it can be learned.
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Organize Your Time
• Avoid distractions. Create two one-hour time blocks where you focus on one task and one task only. Use the 50-20-50 rule: 50 minutes of focused work, a 20-minute break and then another 50 minutes of work. You will get more done in those two hours than most people do in a day.
• Limit interruptions. Allowing yourself to be interrupted all the time reduces your effectiveness. Make sure others know not to interrupt you while you’re working. Hang a “do not disturb” sign on your door or create some other way to communicate to others that you are in a focused work zone.
• Take proper breaks. When you take proper breaks, your energy level will be higher, and you’ll be more efficient throughout the day. Take a 20-minute morning break, an hour for lunch and another 20-minute break in the afternoon. If you can squeeze in a nap, even better. Take a break from technology, too.
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Arrange Your Space
• Clear the clutter. The environment you create shapes who you are and how you feel. A cluttered work space contributes to stress and unclear thinking, so be vigilant about keeping clutter out of sight at all times.
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• Avoid bottlenecks. Remove yourself from having to make all the decisions and approvals. Give your employees rein of minor decision-making. Avoid requiring them to seek approval for decisions that won’t affect the company in a drastic manner.
• Delegate to empower others. Delegating isn’t about giving people tasks to do. Tasks are the simple and short-term items of work to be done. Delegating is about having others take on meaningful work—duties, projects, and other important assignments. Effective delegating will empower your team.
• Hold clients accountable. Due to a lack of client commitment, many projects can become nightmares. If clients are late in providing you what you need to do the work, hold them accountable. Your client’s lack of planning isn’t your emergency.
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• Create an operational manual. Document the operational procedures in your business so everyone is in the know about how to work and what to do. This includes anything from job descriptions to how FedEx packages are sent. This manual will become the bible for your business and ensure that everyone is on the same page.
• Use checklists. To make sure that repetitive tasks are done correctly and that nothing is missed, create a checklist. You’ll save brainpower that can be used on more creative things.
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Peleg Top is a leadership development coach and a business mentor to creative entrepreneurs worldwide. He teaches business owners how to create a profitable company while living a creative, well-balanced life. www.PelegTop.com
Adapted from the November 2013 issue of HOW magazine. Used with the kind permission of HOW magazine, a publication of F+W, a Content + eCommerce Company. Visit www.howdesign.com to subscribe.