Meet our guest blogger, Cabri Carpenter of Minimize Then Organize! Cabri is one of our official mentors within the Inspired Organizer® Facebook group. She’s here to share how she manages her professional organizing business with zero paper clutter, and show you how to go paperless in your business!
Going Paper-free in Your Business
3 Tips For Running A Paper-Free Organizing Business
It’s go time! You have spent countless hours designing (and let’s be honest, re-designing) your logo to make sure it looks *perfect* on your brand spankin’ new website. You’ve got your new business cards tucked away and the confident smile and elevator pitch ready to go.
Fast forward a few months. You are loving every minute of this new business. You’re a couple of clients in and you are slowly finding the knack that sets you apart from other organizers. You are killing it and being the boss babe you were meant to be!
But when you get home from a week’s worth of sessions, you look to your desk and try to understand how YOU, the boss babe organizer, has a desk that looks like a filing cabinet threw up on it. Like, aren’t you supposed to be the organized one??
Okay, in all honesty – maybe I am talking about myself when I started my business. I had it all together when it came to what my clients saw, but behind the scenes, I needed to hire an organizer. Who knew running a business would make paper clutter multiply so quickly!?
If this sounds familiar, worry no more. I quickly learned that there are ways to help reduce paper clutter in your organizing business. OR, if you are feeling really adventurous, there are ways to go completely paperless!
Paper & Photo Scanning Apps
One of my favorite tools, that I use *literally* on the daily is a photo/paper scanner app! This app will let me take a picture of a signed contract, a sheet of paper with client notes, sticky notes, and even receipts and automatically straighten them out, brighten them so they are easy to read, and save them for easy access when I need to reference them! I currently use Microsoft Office Lens! Other similar apps include Adobe Scan and Scanbot.
Another way to help reduce paper clutter in your business is by using a program or management system to send, sign, and receive paperwork electronically. Stand alone websites like HelloSign will let you send a contract one time, but they have to be manually triggered by you. Other programs like Dubsado, will help manage your client projects, while also automatically sending a contract to a client. They can electronically sign it, send it back, and Dubsado will store it for easy access!
(If you are already a part of the Inspired Organizer® course and want to learn more about Dubsado, Jen has a tutorial tucked away in Module 7!)
Now, maybe you are sitting there thinking “Yeah, reduced paper clutter sounds great, but I want it all gone. I want a paper-free business!” Well, boss babe, I got you.
Using GoogleDrive (or other cloud-based storage systems)
Systems like Google Drive have an array of built-in programs to help you manage all the different moving parts of your business, all while keeping things simple, organized, and easy to find!
GoogleDrive is a cloud-based storage system in which you can create word documents, spreadsheets, or even a presentation through Slides (Google’s version of Powerpoint).
I currently use Google Docs to track client notes for myself, project priorities, and after-session notes. I use Google Sheets to create a spreadsheet that gives me the overall view of completed, paused, ongoing, and coming soon projects! I also use Sheets to track hours used in a client’s package, manage products purchased & product budgets, and pay my subcontractors. The Slides function is my go-to when preparing for an event, presentation, or workshop!
GoogleDrive has been a lifesaver in my business, and the best part? It’s all cloud-based. So I can log in from any device, anytime, anywhere to access information I may need. I can work from home updating things on my laptop in the morning, and then pull up the same thing on my phone later that afternoon when I am shopping for organizing products!
Those were my go-to systems when I started transitioning to a paperless business.
As my business has grown, I realized that although my system was very organized, it was HIGHLY INEFFICIENT. When I first started organizing, I thought it made a lot of sense to keep all my digital files separated by type. Signed contracts in this digital folder, invoices in this folder, client notes in this folder. The system worked for a little while. But as the business started growing, it became less effective. Once I started managing three ongoing, whole-home projects at a time, I was flipping from one folder to another folder, then opening up another tab for this folder, then going to another folder to another folder. Let’s just say – it was a hot mess.
Managing Client Files & Projects
Things had to change, so I opted to change my entire backend system to a one-folder-per-client way of managing projects. In GoogleDrive, each client gets one main digital folder with their name on it. Inside that folder lives all the things related to them (of course at this point, all of these documents have been converted to digital versions) – Notes, Past & Current Packages, Receipts from product, Donation Receipts, Invoices, and before & after pictures. By doing this, everything is in one central location, it’s easy to find, and I am not searching through (what feels like) a bajillion different folders looking for one specific document.
By implementing the “One client, one folder” system, things are so much easier to find and access. Now, I do have some clients who I work with on a “one session at a time” basis, most of the time with months between sessions. This helps me because I check through notes to see where we left off last time, and I am ready to go for the next session. Other clients purchase a large package and spread the sessions out. By checking their folder, I can see what product needs to be ordered or installed, and make sure we still have available hours in the package once their products are delivered.
Everything is so much more streamlined, clean, organized, and FUNCTIONAL.
For any “forever” clients, I can add another digital folder into their main digital folder that says “Past Projects”. I can move older photos, old invoices, etc into that folder so it is still accessible but out of the way. This still keeps things streamlined and organized, but keeps me from seeing 50 files at one time when I open up the folder.
Once a project is complete or I am at a stopping point with a client, I color code these digital folders in GoogleDrive.
My current system is:
Red – Don’t Want To Work With
Orange – Paused Project
Yellow – Current Project
Pink – Needs Follow Up
Purple – Maintenance Project
Green – Upcoming Project
By opening up GoogleDrive, I can see all at once how many current projects and ongoing maintenance projects I have going, as well as anybody that I need to follow-up with and upcoming new projects that are in the pipeline. This system has streamlined my process tremendously.
By implementing the “one folder per client” system and color-coding them based on project status, my backend systems are easier to manage. It saves me time, keeps me organized, keeps things accessible, and gives me peace of mind as a business owner!
How are you currently handling paperwork in your business? Do you run a paperless business? If not, could you implement one of these programs or apps to reduce the amount of business paper clutter?
Cabri started Minimize then Organize in November 2017 to serve Lubbock, TX and the surrounding west Texas areas. She has been organizing full-time since starting her business. She calls herself a “rebel organizer” and enjoys creating customized (sometimes weird) solutions that serve her clients. Outside of organizing, you can find Cabri most likely reading about personal development of some sort, playing with her rescue pup, and drinking a Sonic sweet tea!
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Learn more about building a successful organizing business, without all the stress, by reading this post.