Recently, I was working with a client helping her setup an invoice system to speed up the invoice process she needed to do each month and dreaded it so much. She would procrastinate for days. This client has about 15 recurring clients that she needed to bill random work hours at different rates from the previous month. She would write all her invoices by hand and then write the envelope by hand. It would take her hours, maybe even days to do all the invoices.
We had an initial meeting and I watched as she did her invoices for the previous month. She wasn’t computer savvy and didn’t want to use QuickBooks for this process. So, I helped her determine another system that would work best for her abilities. This is what we did.
- We first created a spreadsheet list of all her clients and all their individual content information. This process took some time since it never was done before. This process was needed to help with making the labels and setting up email marketing mailing lists for her to use.
- Before starting to invoice, she needed to tabulate all the hours for each client and put it in a list. She wrote information like her clients name, the total hours, and the total visits, etc… This would help the invoicing process go more smoothly.
- We set up an electronic version of her invoice on the computer so she could re-use the page over and over for invoicing and did not have to write in any comments specifically for each customer because she had added it the first time for the customers. This invoice was setup in a Word document. We used tables in the document for her to write information. Here is an example of a table format. It worked out nicely because it kept all the content organized.
- Then, we setup an invoice log that tracked all the invoices that were sent out to the clients. This log included columns like, Invoice number, description of invoice, amount invoiced, date of invoice, date paid and check number. Tip: Add a formula to the right side of the amount due invoice for the last invoice of a particular month to get monthly invoicing totals. A formula like: =sum(b2…b15) (=sum(b#(the first invoice column and row for that particular month)…b#(the last invoice column and row for that particular month.)) This way, she will be able to see how much money is coming in monthly. There are other formulas you can use as well, check out your spreadsheet software under formulas.
- We then, generated full sheet labels for recurring clients so she didn’t need to write on any of the envelopes. We used the client spreadsheet (we had setup initially) and setup a mail merge to sheets of labels and printed them out.
After modifying her invoice system, it now takes her 50% less time to write-up the invoices, track paid invoices, and file invoices away. We still have a few refinements to do in the process but all and all, she is very happy with the system.
If you need help with your invoicing system, please contact me.
Do you have digital clutter? You know, those files on your computer, your mp3, your phone, and even your DVR, you keep saving and never look at because you do not have the time or energy to deal with them. With the way technology and information is readily available, it’s not surprising you lose or forget information you already have. Here are seven(7) steps to keep your digital clutter at bay:
1. Before uploading photos on your computer, be sure to eliminate any photos that you don’t absolutely love. Blurry and unflattering photos can be removed first.
2. Clear out your kid’s school year correspondences emails at the end of each school year to make room for new emails next school year.
3. Make it a habit to clear out your digital email in box of unwanted emails by the end of each day.
4. If you have an mp3 player, be sure to review what is saved on your software as well. Delete any apps that you don’t use anymore from your computer and then re-sync so it will remove from your mp3 player. You can even remove it directly from your device and when you sync, it should remove it from your computer. Be sure to double-check this because sometimes it won’t remove it from your computer.
5. When you plug your phone in, check to see if there are any files in your file manager that are duplicated or repeated and delete the duplicates. Sometimes, photos may be downloaded again and you would end up with duplicates on your computer.
6. Set your DVR to only record programs that are new. Limit your shows to 2 or 3 recordings of the same show so you can have room for other shows. Revisit your DVR programming. Are there shows that have been cancelled and need to be removed from the DVR?
7. Clear out your desktop files and move or delete any that are not needed immediately.
Taking the time to clear the digital clutter will help you feel more in control of your electronic content. I like to do this every 3 months. Good luck with your de-cluttering. By the way, visit Sabrina’s Organizing Enlightened Blog and subscribe!
I wanted to share this ‘Enlightened’ Newsletter article I wrote. It gives you options and tips for organizing your home and office files.
Here are 3 ways to organize your home and office files.
1. Sorting by color coding:Use different colors to represent different types of files. Try green hanging folders for paid bills. And, using red hanging folders for current year important documents, like tax related paperwork, income, and charities. You can try using yellow hanging folders for important long-term papers like wills, living wills, current insurance policies, unused credit card, and passports and store these folders in a fire-proof safe.
2. Sorting by chronological order: Filing your bills in monthly sections (January, February, March, etc…) works for filing bills, however, it does not necessarily work for important documents retrieval. If you need your insurance policies, you will need to store them somewhere else because it will be too difficult to find long-term papers with this system.
3. Sorting by payee or manufacturer: Filing by payee, like company name of your loan, works if you stay consistent with this system. You can then put the files in ABC order to help you easily retrieve the files. You can also use this system for filing manuals and warranties.
Other options: Having a manila folder inside the hanging folder of the same color makes it easier for you to remember where a manila file should go. If you pull out the file, the hanging folder will help remind you.
Note: Label your manila folder a specific name (not too specific that you will only have one piece of paper in it though). You can fit several manila folders under one general category hanging folder to save space. For example, the general hanging folder would be called “Utilities” and the individual manila folder would be called, “Telephone”, “Cable, or “name of the company”.
Whichever method you decide to use, stay consistent with the system from year to year and you will have little trouble finding your paperwork.
As self-employed individuals, there are times when we feel lost when it comes to marketing. We spend lots of time trying to figure out what we should advertise or don’t do anything at all. This post will provide you with six to-dos to get your business marketing strategy more organized.
- Complete your contact list: Make sure your contacts are all in your smart phone. We all have smartphones these days. Once a week, make it a habit to check your phone to make sure you have all your clients contact information. The common contact information that is useful in a pinch are First and Last name, Email address, Website address, Office phone number, cellphone number, and physical address.
- Testimonials: Email every customer a short survey after the work is complete. Ask your customers to write a few sentences to describe their experience with you and your services. Share your testimonials on your websites and social media pages.
- Compile an email mailing list to keep in touch with existing clients. Ask them if they want to be a part of your mailing list. Setup a mailing list and email your customers every so often to keep in touch.
- Have customers be your advocates. Hand out business cards to existing customers to hand out and give them an instinctive to refer you.
- Collect Before and After photos of your work. Customers love to see photos. They speak louder than words. Share on your site and social media periodically. Get permission from your customer to use the photos.
Have a procedure in place to share with all your employees. Let them know what needs to be done so you do not have to track customers later. Having resources to get your marketing material will help you enormously when having to advertise your services on your website and social media sites.
Tax season is finally past and now we can relax, right? Wait a minute, let’s be proactive about this. Let’s make tax season for next year less stressful. Here are three easy tips to eliminate the craziness that happens when tax season comes around again.
1. Review and change any estimated taxes that you may need to do for the current year. Check with your employees and see if they need to have anything changed on their withholding. How about your situation? Do you need more money withheld or less? Some people need to adjust their estimated taxes because their income has changed. This is the time to do it so you get the right amount of taxes taken out of your pay and as a result, not have to owe at the end of the year. Wouldn’t that be great?
2. Use a consistent filing storage system for your long-term storage. Where do you put your tax returns after they are completed? Are they altogether? Storing last year’s returned in a safe place will help you when you need to return to it next year as reference. There are several ways you can do this. You can store all of your tax returns in one bin. Or you can store your tax return with your year’s payroll and other receipts. Whichever way you wish to store your tax returns, be sure to stay consistent with the procedure.
3. Establish a place for your paper receipts. Establish a location for your tax related receipts, payroll paperwork, accounts payable, accounts receivable, bank and credit card statements. Label folders into categories like estimated taxes, accounts payable, accounts receivable, payroll payments and returns for federal, state, unemployment, and local separately. Sorting your client paid invoices by client name if you have several invoices from particular clients will help you verify the amount on your 1099-misc at the end of the year are correct.
Helping yourself and your business now, will save you time, money, and above all else piece of mind.
I would love to hear your tips for organizing your tax related paperwork. Please leave a message.
For your small business, create a ‘call to action’ list of terms are key to getting potential clients to take action and make the move to contact you.
Here are twenty(20) ‘call to action’ terms to use:
Click now to take advantage of this great offer!
There is only 10 left!
Click Here for details
Start your trial now
Get a free…
Money back guarantee Act now.
Call for a free…
Take our …
Add to cart…
Schedule an appointment
This applies to all types of small businesses. I like to keep a list of ‘call to action’ terms to remind me what is available to use when making ads. I check off the ones I use as a reminder for future add to stay consistent with my message and save time creating the ad.
Below is a checklist for you can use and print. Happy Selling!
What is your favorite ‘call to action’ term? I would love to hear from you.
Business and Personal Items to Shred list – a brief list
- ATM receipts
- Canceled and Voided / Checks
Credit Card Papers
- Credit Report
- Pre-approved Credit Card Applications
- Medical & Dental Records
- Legal Documents
- Investment Stock Transactions
- Employee Records
- Employee Paystubs
And, many others….
One word, YES! Your paper files are that important! They need to be accessible, at a moment’s notice. The IRS may need them if you were audited. Your accountant may need them if she is doing your taxes. You may need them if you have to reference client information. Having a good filing system in place for all your different types of paper will make your office run more efficiently.
Just like the brain, we need to be able to retrieve information from some type of system. The system you use depends on you and what works best for you.
First, change your view point on the paper. Consider it to be an important part of your business. Look at it this way, every business has to do what you are doing when it comes to paper. So, grin and bare it. OK?
Each piece of paper should have a system associated with it. Here are seven examples of systems that associate to different pieces of paper.
- A Bill pay system for your bills that need to be paid.
- An Invoicing system for your invoices to the client.
- An Accounting system for your receipts for purchases.
- A Client file system for your client correspondences.
- An Office supply system for your paper and other office supplies.
- A Current projects system for your current client activities.
- A Old projects system for your old (closed) client activities.
- A Reference system for your reference pages to look at in the future.
If you decide you do not want to store physical paper, that is OK. However, you still need systems in your computer to be able to retrieve files when you need them.
For digital systems, you will need to have your folders organized by the category or type of system, like “Bills paid 2013″ would be one folder. “Client files” organized by client name would be another system.
The way to remember these digital folders is to write down the locations on a piece of paper as reference and post it near your computer. Here are some examples on what to write to remind you of your system:
Where to store this digital file?
To file bills in c:\document\2013billspaid folder
To file receipts in c:\document\2013taxreceipts folder
Whichever system you use, make sure there is a clear path from beginning to end. Each paper should have steps it needs to go through to get to its destination. =) It could be one step or 10 steps, whichever works for you. Write the steps down for either system to remind you of the process. This will help you clear your office of paper piles and make it clearer in your mind where everything is stored. Hopefully, nothing will be lost ever again.
Like your home, your office should be cleared out of any clutter and cleaned up often. You know what I mean, those loose papers that are scattered on the tables and desks. Those huge piles of loose paper laying inside each drawer. They need to be looked at and a decision needs to be made to deal with each one of those papers.
If you have issues remembering to clear the clutter in your office, add a recurring appointment on your calendar that would remind you once every four months to clear out any loose paper on your desk, filing cabinet, and even your computer files left on your desktop.
- After you have determined the date and time you are going to spring clean your office, pick your first area to tackle. Where to start, you may ask. Look for those areas that haven’t been visited often. Ask yourself, “Where haven’t I looked in the last three months?” This could be your permanent file in your back closet or your office supply closet. Start there. This area is most likely to be the area you have little or no attachment to and will be the easiest to look through and purge. Go through one item and a time. Decide if you will keep it or trash it/recycle it. For the kept items, be sure to sort them by like items and find appropriate sized containers to hold the small loose items.
- The next area to purge and clear out is your computer files. Check your desktop, are there any files you do not use? Do you have any files that need to be moved to a more permanent folder? Do you use all the software on your computer? Remove them from your computer if you don’t use them anymore.
- Another area to clear out is your bags and briefcases, do you need everything in these bags? Do you have items that were left in them that just needs to be cleaned out?
After tackling these areas, you will be on your way to clearing the clutter in your office and allowing yourself to make room for the new and amazing opportunities that will come your way. Happy Spring Cleaning and Organizing!