Small Business Organization – Is Your Online Business Sexy Organized?

stay calm and get organized
Image Courtesy of Wartime Posters

I was at the Niche Affiliate Marketing Workshop 7 in Atlanta last February (by the way click here to join us at NAMS #8 coming right up August 3rd-6th in Atlanta), it’s an incredible event and one I highly recommend for anyone with an online business, it’s not just for affiliate marketers.

Anyway I digress, back in February I heard Carrie Wilkerson speak at NAMS7, she is one heck of a ‘pint sized powerhouse’ of ideas and amazing speaker you almost forget you’re listening to learn from her.

One of the many things she said that totally cracked me up was (and yes I’m paraphrasing from my Evernote notes), “in life and in business I’ve found that the three things we all want more of are money, food and sex, but the more you excel in one area, the less you need to do to get more of the other two!”

 

Is Your Business Sexy Organized?

As I came to write this post today I thought, the problem is small business organization is not really a ‘sexy’ subject, at least not to most, but if I could just help people see how getting organized would help them make more money and make it faster, then maybe they’ll make the Carrie Wilkerson connection and get interested in getting organized. For most of us we’ll do what needs to be done, eventually, but it’ll get done a whole lot faster if we can make doing it fast and easy.

So while getting organized may not appear sexy in and of its self, this post and check list should help you slap an easy button on a bunch of essential organizational tasks that are sure to bring you more money, food and sex!

Show Me The Money!

I know a lot of people especially when they’re starting a business don’t feel money management is a main priority or that it’s worth spending their budget on a feature heavy accounting program and often times they are right, a heavy duty program may be more than they need to get started. I’ve started a number of people and my own projects out using Fresh Books, it’s a great alternative and they have some great features to help you record expenses which can really rack up fast when you start an online business if you don’t keep tabs on them.

But if even that seems to be too feature laden check out this Basic Profit & Loss Statement, you can get the FREE template to customize for your own business at the end of that post.

Gone In 60 Seconds?

How fast could you potentially ‘lose’ your website, your business or all your work? Ask anyone who has EVER lost a website or experienced a hard drive crash and you might feel a bit like an Atheist at Summer Bible School. The computer ‘Revivalists’ would be all over you like white on rice telling you every detail of their particular crash horror story. If you’ve ever experienced it you’ll understand why, it’s kind of how you feel the first time you get dumped by someone you really care about. You’ll feel sick to your stomach, may well go into a cold sweat and be prepared to do ANYTHING including spending your last dime to get things back to where they were just a few short minutes ago.

All of this mayhem and accompanying stress can be avoided with minimal preparation!

Get yourself and your business setup with a double redundant backup system. That means don’t rely on your hosting service having backups of your website files but also set up additional automated backup options (plural) with at least one of them stored at a remote location – meaning on Amazon S3 or similar, definitely not just on your hard drive.

I use MozyPro to back up EVERYTHING on my computer. By everything I mean the whole kit and caboodle – hard drive, all files even programs too. I was so grateful I had that when the day before I was leaving for an 8 week trip to Europe (that’s my favorite benefit and probably biggest reason for me preferring to have an online business – that I can work from anywhere with an internet connection), a friend accidentally knocked my laptop off the desk and totally killed it! I’d just synched everything for my trip and was to catch a flight just a few hours later. I dropped everything, ran out and bought a new laptop, then I called Mozy and requested a recovery disc be shipped Fed-Ex to me in the UK. When I arrived in London, I was able to restore everything from the disc and was up and running within a couple of hours.

Now, it’s important to note I went with the disc recovery option only because I knew I would have limited broadband access, but if I could have been assured of a decent internet connection I’d have simply downloaded the file direct from the Mozy web interface and been back up and running even faster. The point is this only has to happen to you once and you’ll be a convert evangelizing the importance of automated remote backup systems. So there’s my personal ‘revival survival’ story, I sincerely hope you never have one of your own but if you do, I hope you have something like Mozy to ensure it has a happy ending!

Has Your Archive Heard From You Lately?

Everyone talks about backing up files and databases etc, but I like to take things one step further and address putting my ducks inline throughout the year so I’m ready ahead of tax season instead of bringing up the rear. I do that by ‘archiving’ my data into PDF’s by month and in some cases by quarter too. When I had the bakery I used that info to quickly efile quarterly employee and tax forms but it also helped at year end to have it all already split out by quarter.

Are Your Passwords Obvious?

How many movies or TV cop shows have you seen where the resident ‘geek’ hacks into someone’s computer using information from someone’s Facebook account to derive what they use for their passwords? It’s pitifully easy to figure out what some folks think passes for a password. There are paid and free password managers which will allow anyone to use secure password generation technology.

I tried RoboForm, it’s a good system and I know lots of people who use and love it, for me personally I struggled getting used to it. I have to be honest here and say that’s probably a ‘me’ issue rather than anything wrong with their system and I stuck with it for about six weeks. The nice thing is you can try RoboForm out for free and decide if you want to upgrade to get access everywhere once you figure out if it works well for you. I know a number of people who just love it.

My personal preference is for LastPass which just speaks to me. I like the interface and find it easier to generate, change and update passwords with this program. It also has a free version and can be upgraded to allow mobile access and other benefits too.

It does not matter which password manager you use but if you do much of anything online you’ll end up with (or should please don’t tell me you’re using the SAME one in multiple places!!!) lots of passwords and they need to be strong, meaning using a combination of 12 or more characters including numbers and special characters that no human could likely remember or guess. I don’t know about you but the only way I can do that is to use a password manager and I like LastPass.

‘Savers’ Sell Their Businesses Faster, More Often & For More Money!

Remember those Revivalists? Well they’ll tell you that ‘Jesus Saves’ and I’ll tell you, so should you –
Save Your Data that is!

I’m sure the serial entrepreneurs among us will agree, one of the biggest bonuses to having all your data backed up AND archived is, should you ever decide to sell, by having easy quick access to archives of all that past data, it’ll make preparing for the selling process a breeze and ensure you maximize the asking price that your website, home based/online business can command and support in due diligence.

K.I.S.S. It Or Kiss It Goodbye!

Keep It Simple Stupid was a common phrase before political correctness stepped in and made ‘stupid’ a bad word but seriously, if you keep things simple and accept that small business organization does not need to be difficult, complicated or time consuming, then you’ll be set up for opportunity and success whatever way, shape or form they may arrive in.

Take Away Tip

Here are the most basic admin items that should be tracked, backed-up and archived (as PDF’s) every month. Click here to get our Profit & Loss Tutorial & Template specifically designed for online businesses to help you track sales and expenses fast and easy!

Admin Check List:

  • Sales – all revenue by streams by month on P&L statement
  • Expenses – by month on P&L statement
  • Taxes – sales tax due on P&L statement
  • Employees & Payroll – wages/salaries along with Federal & State payroll taxes
  • Website Traffic – monthly traffic reports
  • Website Content – backup and archive by month
  • Website Mechanics & Technology – plugins, database etc
  • Marketing – email & customer databases
  • Passwords – change & manage
  •  
    Feel free to share this post if you think it’d help others but in the meantime, I’d love to hear what you track in your business and how, let me know in the comments below…

    Cheers!
    NextGen Ned Signature 2
     
     
     
     
     
     

    About 

    I launched my 1st website back in 1996 selling baking mixes, now I blog about doing business online, most of all I love to travel, cook, enjoy wine, good company, music & movies in no particular order – I like it best when I can enjoy them all at the same time! Connect with me on Google+

Comments

  1. Hi Debra,
    you have quite a lot of experience with launching websites. Your article is very comprehensive, especially the part about passwords. I’ve been thinking lately of changing some of my passwords, not because they’re too obvious or easy to figure out, but because they’re kinda short and don’t always involve special characters or numbers.
    Mariella Lombardi recently posted..US Marine Replaces TRX Destroyed By a Roadside Bomb – The Benefits of Using the TRX Suspension Training!My Profile

    • Debra says:

      Hey Mariella,
      Thanks for commenting, yes it’s important to use longer passwords and mix it up with upper and lower case, special characters and numbers too. If you’re not going to use a password manager like Last Pass then a good tip is to use long song titles – just use the first letter of each word in the title and add a couple of numbers that would be easy to remember but hard to guess.

      Cheers,
      Debra

  2. Hi Debra – this is indeed a comprehensive post about getting organised.
    I have a question – what do you use to backup your website? I use a WordPress site and a Plug-in – WordPress Database back-up. This backs up every week and I download it to my computer. Is this sufficient?
    I also back up all my computer every week, on to an external hard disk… Should I be doing more?
    Caroline 🙂

    • Debra says:

      Hi Caroline,
      Sorry to be slow responding here, I have no good excuse except I’ve been distracted as we celebrated my daughters 21st over the weekend and I’m just getting caught up :)!

      Sounds like you are doing a pretty good job of backing up your website. How often you should do that really depends on how often you update your site and how much work you are willing to have to recreate or sacrifice to the data gods (or devils if you prefer) if they turn against you. I like to update daily and for the process to be automated (or I WOULD forget for sure) and stored remotely, so for me that means on Amazon S3 which I find to be the cheapest, secure storage solution. I am a self confessed ‘Cyber Hoarder’ too, so I like to have at least 30 days of backups so that if there ever is an issue, I’ll have multiple restore points I can go back to.

      To make all of this backing up easy and automated, I use Dan Coulter’s Automatic WordPress Backup which dumps a backup right into my Amazon S3 account. The plugin is free and in the WordPress.org directory. It works fine for me with WP 3.4.1 on several sites even though it has not been updated in over two years. Too bad really because it’s a pretty good set it and forget it solution, but hey free plugins are a gift for as long as you get to use them, let’s face it unless there’s a paid pro version there’s very little in it for the developer, so I can totally understand when they choose not to update.

      I will very likely switch over in our next ‘maintenance update’ to using the premium plugin BackUpBuddy mostly because it looks as if Dan is no longer updating his and I am concerned it will eventually have or cause a conflict with future WP updates and I kind of want to be proactive in finding a current solution to avoid having to deal with conflicts after the fact. When I do I’ll write a review and post so sign up for updates if you haven’t already and you’ll be sure to see that when it posts.

      For all my other ‘stuff’ I use MozyPro (there’s a link to them in the sidebar) and I back up EVERYTHING programs and all. Again, with that service I have 30 days of backups to choose the best restore point from and for a low cost it’s the best insurance (peace of mind) money can buy. It’s still a pain when you need to use it, but it’s a lot less painful than losing all your cyber junk!

      The only thing I would say is that ‘for me’ (and we’ve already confirmed, I’m a cyber hoarder) I would want to have daily backups just because it’s so cheap and easy to automate – so why would you not?

      Hope this helps.
      Cheers,
      Debra 🙂

  3. That’s my biggest fear ever. Seeing my website crash.
    Shaun Hoobler recently posted..app dev secretsMy Profile

    • Debra says:

      Hey thanks for joining the conversation, I love that. Oh I so know – I’ve actually become way more comfortable with crashing sites than is healthy! I try at all costs to avoid doing it, but along with the dreaded “neglect” come the cobwebs. There were some things, that I now use a BRILLIANT plugin to handle (I’ll be talking about that in a post here shortly), that needed to be addressed on this site before I published this post. Nuked it twice in 24…and yet here it is live and getting comments. Never, ever, say never! Cheers Shaun.

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