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By Larry Alton

Productivity is essential in business, but when your business is unorganized, efficiency can quickly go out the window. You might have a great business plan and some excellent employees to help carry it out, but if you’re working in chaos, you’ll struggle to get your work done and expand your business.

Unfortunately, one of the many reasons businesses stay unorganized is lack of funds. Companies believe it costs a fortune to gain the organization a business needs. In reality, the ordering process doesn’t have to be expensive, and any money spent is an investment in productivity and success.

As you take the leap, here are some things to try:

1. Use Software to Build Professional Dashboards

When you’re monitoring key performance indicators (KPIs), communicating across departments, and trying to make your business metrics easy to understand, professional dashboards can be a lifesaver. They make it easy to interact with data, collaborate, and communicate with information displayed on a single, well-organized screen.

2. Go Paperless with Cloud Storage

Paper is obviously useful, but in an office setting, paper is often overused. Technology has given us much better alternatives for organizing the office. Instead of using your overflowing file cabinets, export your files to JPEGs or PDF files and store them on the cloud.

There are a variety of cloud storage and file management systems available for business use, from Google Drive to Microsoft Office. To help you transition from paper to cloud storage, use file management systems to scan bills, statements, receipts, and other documents with software like Ademero, eFileCabinet, and Paperless.

3. Integrate Workflow Design

The organizational style of your office is an important part of how a small business runs. Establish work zones with desks, filing cabinets, and supply areas so that it’s easy for your employees to reach everything and work productively. Implementing a labeling system and organizing drawers and closets within the office can also keep things running smoothly.

4. Simplifying Processes

Though it’s important to invest in your employees, it’s even more important to invest in your processes. Your employees will come and go, but your business’s infrastructure will stay the same. Simplicity is a huge part of creating processes that can stand the test of time.

The regulation of your business should be consistent and simple enough that anyone can follow. For example, you might choose one system for naming and filing everything and standardize the process so it’s easy to learn.

5. Control Your Books

Your finances must be under complete control if you want to see success. Start with your bookkeeping, examining processes like invoicing, processing payments, tracking projects, and recording expenses. Look for ways to update your procedures so they’re efficient and simple.

Software can make a huge difference here. There are a variety of apps and software tools that can make this process easier. Small businesses might try FreshBooks, Mint, InDinero, Square, or Kashoo to stay up to date.

6. Tie up Loose Legal Ends

Consider that legalities are an important part of any business, and oftentimes, companies will put these legal issues on the backburner in hopes that ignoring the problem will fix things. But it’s not going away, and an important organizational factor for small businesses is tying up these loose ends.

Some of the legalities to consider include filing a DBA for your business name, getting a Tax ID number, getting local licenses and permits in order, changing your corporation to an LLC, and updating any contracts that go with your business.

Small businesses require organization to function productively and successfully. Using the proper resources and tools, you can develop a business plan that will last, no matter how many employees it sees.

Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.