business is going…

So, I’ve been reflecting on the business and making decisions and generally trying to do stuff. And that means finding new blogs where I can learn things and hang out with other small business types.

One of my issues seems to be that I don’t know what I need to do or how to organize my time or anything. General confusion. Some days I deal with that but just sitting down and doing something. Anything. It is amazing how well that works, actually. (And the new routine Tigger and I worked out for her seems to be working pretty well, except for days like today when she really just wanted to read a book all day and I had to remind her how absolutely not onerous the routine was and that it was full of stuff she loves to do.)

But I’ve also found Cairene at Third Hand Works. Her business is helping folks like me figure out how to do all the administrative stuff that makes our businesses actually work. Or I think that’s it.

Cairene has a category of posts on her blog called Business Manual, in which she writes about her own process of revamping her Business Operations Manual.  There is useful information in there, I’m sure, but the whole idea was making me nervous. I am just not that good at documenting things. Much less keeping those documents organized. I do have a grey folder around here somewhere with a bunch of pages of random notes about the business in it, but it seems to have wandered off. I hope it comes back soon. It might help. But it isn’t anything organized enough to be a manual. It’s the notes that were lying around on my desk.

Every once in a while I read one of those great posts about homeschooling portfolios in which someone will say to start with a big folder and put tabs in for this and that and…. I can read the whole post and nod a lot but I can’t actually do it. Nor keep it going. And I don’t think it’s just because we are not very product oriented homeschoolers. So the Business Operations Manual seems to be to the small business person what the Portfolio is to the homeschooler. And I was having the same reaction. Great idea. Won’t work for me.

Then today, I was talking to Tigger about what I did this morning — cleaning up a recording of a telephone conversation so I could send it to a client. It involved some ARRGH trying to figure out the technology (Garage Band; it’s already on my computer, why not?). But I was quite pleased with myself. It did help that Mat knows something about the general recording thing (though he uses Reason for his music creations) and thus knew what various menu items meant, and what to type into the search box in the help window and whatnot.

Tigger made some positive comment that included the idea that it would be easier the next time, to which I replied “Well, except that I’m not getting very many of these gigs right now so I’ll probably have forgotten what I did by the time I do another one.”

Smart ass 11 year old then says “Maybe you should write it down, so you won’t forget.” Like that is the simplest idea in the word. And like I’m not capable of losing the paper that I wrote it on (even if I put it in a folder, apparently).

Ding! So that’s what you put in a Business Operations Manual. For someone with a PhD, I can be kind of slow sometimes.

The binder and tabs thing was still bugging me. I don’t have the supplies on hand, for starters. But I thought that documenting how I did the thing would be a good idea and opened up a Word document. Harder to lose on your desk as well.

At which point I remembered their notebook view. It has sections, with tabs. And it writes stuff in outline format and has handy thingamies that let you promote them and demote them and move them around and whatnot.

So I now have a Business Operations Manual. It has a tab for “Recordings”, one for “Bookkeeping”, and one for “Filing”. Some of the information is pretty sparse but it’s a start. And a place to put stuff that doesn’t require a shelf or clutter up my desk. (Cluttering up my desk is one of my special skills.)

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3 thoughts on “business is going…

  1. Now I understand why it’s been so cold around here (as I recall you having a “it’ll be a cold day in Hell before I do that organizational stuff.” 🙂
    That is ALL you need, really. Nothing fancy, because you are independent. I am really proud of you, because I know that sort of thing is not in your comfort zone. I do something similar for the co-op, and also add another category, Incidents, because as trivial as much of the petty crap is that I have to deal with, it is extremely good business to remember how I handled a problem down the road. (others never seem to forget!)
    Also, after having my computer crash, I try to print out hard copies of the financial at the end of each month, and put them in a little binder. The rest I can afford to lose, but the financials can be major nightmare.

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  2. My desk looks the same. 😀

    I have some organizational folders on my own computer desktop. Like you said, hard to lose ’em. (Yes, there is a JoVE folder.)

    i also have my notebook. just one. I don’t try and categorize things because that really REALLY trips me up. I brain dump *everything* in it.

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