How I Organize My Small Business

I'm a pretty nosy person. I can often be seen searching for peaks into artists' studios, journals, design processes, and how they organize. I love to get a little peak into the small details of how another artist manages to stay on top of all their projects. Well, upon the start of 2012, I seem to have stumbled onto an organizing system which really works for me, and I thought it would be nice to share. I hope you enjoy taking a peak into how I organize my small business!

My Planner
My Planner is the blood of my business and daily life. (It's the size of a postcard, with over 100 pages.) This little book holds my daily to-do lists, calendar, blog post plans, post ideas, my current "working on" projects, and more. (I love this little planner so much that I have a matching planner ready to go when this one is filled up.) I usually carry this around with me and dump ideas into it whenever the mood strikes.

Daily To-Do Lists
Each night, before I go to sleep, I write down all of the things I may want/need to do the next day. (I write it before bed because it helps me clear my head so I can sleep better.) The next day, I read my to-do list while drinking my coffee and decide what I should do first. I try to prioritize differently on certain days, so I don't fall into the boring habit of doing the same routine over and over again.
Also, if I don't complete important tasks on my list by the end of the day, then they get moved to tomorrow's list.

Calendar & Blog Post Plans
At the back of my planner, I have a yearlong calendar spread for 2012. This is where I write holidays, birthdays, other important dates. I also plan my blog posts by the month here. It helps me to color-code the categories I'm posting in, so I can have a clear view of the month and make sure I have a nice balance of posts.
Sometimes I don't get them written and posted, and I do my best to not stress over it. I like to use my blogging plans as a guideline, not a rule. (I typically only write a blog post into the calendar when I have it drafted or I already have photos for the post.)

Collecting Ideas & Brainstorms
I put little pockets into my planner, so that I can slip notecards inside of them. On my colored notecards, I write down a variety of ideas; DIY Projects, Blog Posts, and crafts I want to do in my spare time. I also keep notecards on my favorite blogs and websites to go to for DIY inspiration, and ideas for my "Inspired" Blog Posts. (Usually I only make notecards for blogging, photography related tasks and projects. If I have a large project that needs special attention, then I create a file folder for the project.)

My Files
I keep a stack of file folders to organize resources, goals, plans, finances, and big ideas. These folders are the backbone of my business and my personal life as well. While my daily planner gives me motivation on a daily basis, my files give me the long term direction and overall view of what I'm doing. Plus, the resources and notes I may need years from now.

(Right now, all of my folders are rather boring, as I haven't decorated them. But I've been getting a lot of great ideas on how to make my folders more attractive. I'll be sure to share the updated versions of my folders once I'm finished with them.)

Birch & Bees 2012 Folder
This folder is where I keep the annual papers. The budgets, marketing plans, estimates, shop purchases, supply costs, and projections for the current year, the next year, and 5 years from now. (By projections, I mean changes I will need to accomodate, goals I want to meet, future collections to create. This keeps me on track and working towards a future goal.

Project Management
I keep a folder for each large project I work on. Projects like a blog re-design, releasing a collection of clothing, or anything of that nature. These folders are very dynamic. Let's say I'm working on a new design for the blog, I make a folder for the project and add it to the pile. Now, whenever I come across colors I'm attracted to, website URL's which have inspiring designs, sketches, and anything else that feels somewhat related. These folders eventually look like a Pinterest Board might. Pictures, sketches, websites, colors, inspiring writing/poetry.

I keep a folder of resources for everything that I may need to look at again later. (After I lost my computer, I also lost all of the amazing websites/blogs which I spent hours tracking down. So, this time around, I'm making hard copies of this information!) In this folder, I keep the URL's of websites which I love to frequent for reading, inspiration, or the latest DIY's. I also keep all the notes I write on running a small handmade business. I take notes on a huge variety of topics and keep them there for future reference.

Design Notes
I also keep another folder which contains all the design notes I have for my blogs and other websites. Sketches of new designs, HTML codes, image sizes, RGB color codes. I'm very methodical when it comes to my designing. I try to always be consistent with my designs.

Besides my planner and folders, I keep dozens of journals and books.

(from top to bottom, left to right)
My vintage logbook for tracking inventory & listings, The 18 Projects Book
The Design Dump Book, My Business Inspiration Book

A Bit of Advice.
Ultimately, the single best thing I've learned about staying organized is creating your own system around what your natural tendencies are. Being such an organizational buff, I have tried and failed and many, many systems before realizing that I needed my own way of doing things that makes sense for me.

As an artist, I need to see things visually, it is neccessary for me to understand anything. I enjoy being able to open up a file folder, spread out all of the contents in front of me and see what's working/not working. It helps me to focus in on one project at a time, and notice themes or certain tones I am drawn to.

In addition, I like for things to look beautiful! So, when I'm creating my designs, my files, my goals, I always try to make it look as lovely as possible. I've found that I actually keep track of my goals if I enjoy looking at them. So, I'll spend an afternoon putting a lot of effort into making a small book to document my progress on a project or goal, the payback is that I am much more motivated to follow-through after spending so much time to make the books themselves!

(I spent a day making this little book to keep track of my yearly and monthly goals for 2012. I have a lot of fun going through the book opening up little flaps to see what goals I wrote in.)

Well, I hope you enjoyed taking this little peak into how I organize my small business. Running a shop and blog by yourself can be quite time-consuming and stressful at times. But, I've found that with a solid (and aesthetic) organizing system in place, it can make the experience so much more pleasant and simple.

How do you stay organized? I'd love to see how you manage everything all the great things you do!

peace & love,

1 comment:

  1. I'm so impressed by how organized you run your business. You even incorporate a vintage theme to your paperwork. In my case, I sort out all the papers and put them in my file boxes. Your way is so much cooler, and I hope I can make my own goal book too.