Owning a small business, any business, the major struggle is to stay organized. We tend to get overwhelmed with the numerous data we have coming in, from customer requests to storing information.
The hardest part is to capture all of the information, process it, prioritize it and accomplish it all in a timely manner.
Every business, no matter the size needs:
- Information management & sharing
- Tracking customers and follow up
- Task management
- Password vault
As a virtual assistant I work with small businesses to with these areas (and more!). I do this by going through the specifics of your business and how it works in order to customize organizing systems. Generalizing is difficult, as all businesses are different… I found this while doing an audit on my own business and there are systems that every business needs. For a small or direct sales business, I recommend the following:
Sticky notes, scratches on notepads and emails with reference information, etc? How do you share it with employees, co-workers or customers?
Capture all of this information in one place, organize it and find it when you need it.
You can utilize Dropbox, Google Drive, Box or One Drive. You can search for files within these systems. In Google Drive for example, start typing PDF, slides, folders you see where I am going with this and you will have a list and find what you are looking for easily.
Evernote is a good system for information management! The ability to search through your own information database to find whatever you are looking for is amazing. Tags give you a higher probability of quickly finding your information and the OCR capability searches inside your Office or PDF documents. Aaamaazzing!!
If you are already paying for Microsoft Office 365 and get OneNote for free, I recommend that you use it instead of Evernote. Additionally, Evernote is not compliant with healthcare & financial industry privacy standards.
Tracking customers & follow up
Typically, a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software solution is needed for this. You can keep a binder or spreadsheet with customer contact information, but how effective is this? The best way to be effective at follow up is by utilizing technology. CRM programs offer customer interaction tracking and ways to automate follow up and receive reminders.
Currently, I use 17Hats, this is a all-in-one, mobile-friendly small business CRM platform that lets you organize, systemize, and grow. It caters to a wide spectrum of small scale businesses by providing them with tools that allow them to manage operations such as scheduling, billing and meetings. It eliminates the need for any kind of paperwork. But this specific to my business as I don’t need some some of the other features offered by others.
Insightly is another CRM that offers a customer database, along with a task management system. You can take notes about each person, along with integrating other systems you are already using (like Evernote, Quickbooks and Mail Chimp). You can capture all of your interactions with that customer in one place. Hubspot offers the same as Insightly but only integrates Mail Chimp and Constant Contact.
If you play phone tag with customers and need a reminder to follow up if they do not return your call, Insightly and Hubspot can help.
If you delegate tasks and assign specific customers to employees, but need to view what is happening with that lead or account, Insightly and Hubsopt can help.
Everyone needs a To Do list. Some people prefer paper, but again a computerized system will give you the ability to receive reminders, automate tasks and repeat tasks at set intervals.
In an ever-shifting world that moves at the speed of light, a new task can trump the priority of a previous urgent item. A good task management system will have a way to color code, categorize or prioritize. Asana, Trello and Click Up are a few task management systems to use. Personally, Asana is my go to.
Microsoft Outlook is one great task management solution, because you can actually flag emails that require a follow up task. 17Hats (see CRM above) incorporates a task management system, which allows tasks to be attached to a particular project or contact.
A password vault, also called a password manager, is a program that stores usernames and passwords for multiple applications in a secure location and in an encrypted format. Having your passwords written on sticky notes are a no no. Password managers store your login information for all the websites you use and help you log into them automatically.I use LastPass they have a free and paid accounts, you can safely share passwords with team members and clients can share with you. Both will need to have an account,and the icing on the cake you can also card credit card info. Another is Keeper, and there are others,but you research and see which ever you rather.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of systems. The key is to figure out what features you require and find a simple solution that resolves your issues. Don’t overthink and spend hours trying to find a system that will save you a few minutes.
If you are struggling to set up these systems, CRM whichever, I am here to help.