Would you consider yourself, or your home office, organized? Can you find most anything in five minutes? Do you miss appointments or deadlines regularly?
Did you know disorganization could be COSTING YOU MONEY? Ack!
Whether you're just starting out in business, or you've been at it a while, organization is crucial, especially when you are conducting your business out of your home. If you're struggling in the area of home office organization, it may be hitting you in the pocketbook. Now that I've got your attention, let's explore two ways it could be impacting you right now.
Ok, so I happen to be a proponent of "organization looks different for everyone". However, I have one disclaimer: if you see clients in your home office on a regular basis, you better make sure your office is neat and tidy (most customers will see this as "organized").
Ms. Customer walking into a whirlwind of paperwork and chaos in your place of business does not exactly exude confidence. It's kind of like dating—if your date is unkempt and their apartment smells like old gym socks, you're going to think twice, right? Ms. Customer feels that way too. So, if Ms. Customer walks into your place of business and is offended by it's rat hole-like environment, they may walk out and never come back. Bye-bye Customer, bye-bye relationship, bye-bye profit.
The other way disorganization damages your reputation is in the time management area. Customers, vendors and partners want to count on you. They really do. But they will be incrementally less forgiving if you are late to meetings, missing deadlines and are generally unreliable, even if you needed to take little Johnny or Jane to the dentist. Nobody likes being stood up, no matter who they are. Make sure to use a calendar (electronic or otherwise) and stay on top of your schedule. Build in some buffers around meetings, which allow you a little breathing room if something out of your control happens (which is often the case when working out of the home, and even more often the case when you live with kids and a dog in that home). This will help minimize the opportunity for something to go horribly wrong, and when something does go wrong, your stellar reputation will ease the blow. The point is, be reliable and people will come back to you, period.
2. Wasted Billable Time
Consider this statistic: "In 2000, it was estimated that, by 2003, the average professional would waste 30 percent to 40 percent of his time on 'document-related nonvalue-added tasks,' i.e., paper shuffling. Now some of that wasted time has moved from paper to electronics, with the volume of e-mail projected to rise 30 percent a year through 2008." (Von Bergen, Jane M.. So many reasons to neaten up, but it's too imposing. Boston Globe 03/12/2006)
Let's say you work only 40 hours a week, and you waste 35% of that time looking for things. You've wasted 14 hours of your week, about 60 hours every month and 728 hours a year! You know what 728 hours is, right? It's the equivalent of 30 DAYS. What could you do with even half of that time back? How could your business profit from gaining 7 hours a week back? Could you take on another customer? Take on another project you haven't had time for?
Let me show you the money, from a billable hours perspective. Let's say you get paid $100 an hour to work with a client. If you had that 7 hours back and could fill it with clients, that's $700 every week. Are you missing that money? Could you use it? I'm going to guess the answer is "Yes!".
Time is a funny thing, and when it's gone, it's gone. We don't get any more of it, and if it's wasted on milling around trying to find stuff it's truly a waste—a costly, expensive waste.
Here's what you can do about it.
If you're ready to make an investment, take some time to get your home office, business and yourself organized. Start with whatever is driving you the most batty. Is it paperwork? Guilt of not making meetings? Stress from not finding a contact's name and number when you need it? What is it that is bothering you most right this minute?
Then, take that one thing, and DO SOMETHING about it. No complaining, no guilt, just action. Read a book, do a Google search, inform yourself or hire an organizer.
Whatever you do, DO it...TODAY. You could be getting 30 DAYS back. Isn't that worth investing in?