Give your business a flying filing start in 2015

Have you experienced one or more of these situations?

♦  Wasted time looking for information that you have filed “somewhere”?
♦  Got frustrated when you can’t find a paper or email that you know “is there somewhere”?
♦  Had to pay tax penalties because your missed a deadline due to inefficient business processes?

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Small business challenges in Ireland and New Zealand

I’ve been in Dublin recently with my daughter and her family. It was a busy time with her young children and chef/restauranteur husband but lots of fun and very different from life at home in New Zealand where I live with my husband and a cat!

What I found interesting was the similarities between Ireland and New Zealand. I’ve always been aware of the similar

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Electronic filing is crucially about “levels of access”

Sarah recently gave some advice to a couple of clients and asked me for my thoughts.  She suggested that electronic filing is CRUCIALLY about “levels of access” – designing your folder structure around “security clearance levels” works best. So you start by working out what is “confidential inner-management ONLY” (e.g. Strategy & Planning), what is

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End of Year processes for small business

In New Zealand  for small businesses (and not so small) it’s all about EOY – or end of financial year – at the moment and advice is pouring in from experts on how to deal with your particular EOY issues. For example:

Gaylene Hughes at JDI Business Coaching offers her tips for EOY accounting processes. Other accountants are also advising their clients on how to improve their EOY processes.

Phil Astley points out a number of cardinal errors made by small business owners either through the box of papers or even with an accounting system.

What is missing from these and other commentators is help with organising all this financial information so you can store it in a way that makes it quick and easy for you to locate everything you need when you’re preparing to take it all to your accountant.

That’s where we come in.

At Terrace Consulting we specialise in helping businesses to organise their office mess and to sort out their files, either paper or electronic – or both. We can save you money that you would normally pay your accountant because with our help your EOY documentation is in order before it gets to your accountant.

This means that our clients can get on with their money-making work to produce their profit, knowing that they will be able to find the information they need when they need it.  No more wasted time searching for information that hasn’t been organised properly or has been saved in a hurry – somewhere!

Contact us today so you too can benefit from our 20-plus years experience working with businesses of varying types and sizes to organise their information. We can work with you in person, by email, phone or skype. Alternatively you can DIY with our step-by-step workbook “Keeping Good Records for Small Businesses”

Let us do what we do best so you can get on and do what you do best.  You’ve got nothing to lose and lots of time to gain

Testimonials and recommendations

Testimonials and recommendations – you can’t really go past them as a marketing tool. I’ve been delighted with some I’ve received recently from happy clients.

Here are some excerpts:

“We contracted Terrace Filing Services to assist us to implement an electronic filing system. Judy Owen project managed and did the majority of the work for us to a very high standard. Judy consulted with the team and designed and implemented our new system.  The associated documentation and help files was first class and I would unreservedly recommend Judy to any business looking to implement or upgrade their filing systems, documentation or staff training in their filing systems.”  Stuart.

“Thank you Judy for your report after visiting my office.  I was surprised at the level of detail included and the additional suggestions for things that I hadn’t even considered. I have immediately implemented some of your suggestions and I am enjoying the benefits of them already.  I will be implementing more in the near future and look forward to having my office organised, tidy and with everything in a logical place. I would recommend anyone with a home office space to contact Judy for a consultation.”  Sandy.

“Thank you for bringing your valuable expertise and care to help our information-intensive business.  With years of history and many thousands of files it is easy, even for information professionals like ourselves, to have our files ‘drift’ out of order, and fantastic to have your support as we brought them back into shape.”  Sarah.

And just in case you think I only work with people whose names begin with “S”, here’s one more

“Judy came to help me with both my paper files and the electronic ones. Both were a mess! She was quick and clear.  It has made such a difference that this year my tax returns were filed early and my accountant was most surprised and pleased. It also meant my refund came through earlier! I can recommend Judy and her systems.” Barbara.

Wow – it’s great to be appreciated.

You can read about more hints and tips to improve your business in my free eBook; and even more if you download the eWorkbook that gives you a full set of instructions on how to set up a filing system that is tailored for your business.

Judy Owen has been working with businesses of all sizes and complexities for more than 20 years to improve and streamline the access to their business information.  She and her team can show you how to reduce risk, improve productivity and increase profits with good business systems and processes in your business.

How important are titles for electronic documents

Most of us don’t think about what to call our electronic documents until we’re about to save them when we’ve finished with the document for a while.  At that point we just want to save the document quickly so we can get on to the next task.

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Cloud backup services can keep your business working

During a recent “weatherbomb” over the Wellington region, a number of properties were without power for several days due to the large number of trees that came down in the storm and other storm related issues with the electricity supply.

While this was disturbing enough for anyone in that situation given the inability to heat homes and cook meals, I was rather startled to read a news article about a woman who runs her business from home (has done for several years) and who couldn’t operate during the power outage.

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Financial information is important – But there’s so much more…

As I’ve been searching for inspiration to add to my blog.  I ended up searching Google and found some interesting things about record keeping for small businesses.

Firstly I can tell you there is heaps of advice on how to manage your financial records for tax purposes.  Just type in “small business record keeping” and you’ll see what I mean.  For example

Record keeping for small business – Australian Taxation Office

Record Keeping for Small Business – Omni-Rand Inc.  

This is all good and helpful. But there is so much more to managing the information in your business than the financial stuff.  That’s important obviously, because if you don’t file your invoices and receipts and you don’t keep track of your finances then you can get into deep trouble – and fast.   Oops – its tax time again!

Relying on your accountant is not the answer.  Only you know exactly what’s going on in your business and you need to know where you have stored the important information so you can find it when you need to.

But what about your staff – where and how do you store the information about them?  Do you keep personal files and employment agreements in a place where this information can’t be seen by anyone not authorised to see it? Do you keep paper files or is it all held in your computer?  If you have a flood or fire, or a big earthquake, what will happen to your business information?

Do you have marketing and advertising material?  A business plan, health and safety plan for your business? Where and how do you keep all this information?

It’s because there is so little out there to help you keep your business information shipshape that I started writing to help people like you.   Check out my earlier blog posts or download my free ebook for more help.

A business idea transformed

When I first started working with small business owners to improve their filing systems, I thought the focus would be on developing systems and processes for organising paper files and electronic documents.

Very soon however I found that a lot of people wanted help to their email under control and I expanded my expertise to encompass email.  One client had over 5000 email messages in her inbox. She was so overwhelmed that she didn’t know where to start to deal with them – so she just left them to build up and tried to ignore them.

With my help and encouragement we set up folders for different types of email (by sender, by subject etc) and created rules to move new mail directly into these folders.  Then the client could see her email more easily and was able to deal with the messages in smaller groups. Within a week she had deleted more than 2000 messages and was well on the way to managing her email.

More recently I’ve become aware of issues people have with their home office. In fact I’ve just finished working with three clients, all of whom initially sought help with specific issues around storage of their office paperwork.  During the course of our discussions, they have all realised that they had started out with their home office using furniture from around the house or from secondhand shops.

These women have very successful businesses but they sense that their office space does not portray themselves as they would like. Even if they don’t have clients visiting their office, they want to feel professional when they are working out of their home office.

So what have they done?

One has begun turning what is effectively a converted bedroom into an office that looks much more professional and less like a bedroom simply by replacing some of the furniture that she had ‘found’ in other parts of the house with office furniture.

Another has replaced her dining table and student desk that she used for her laptop and work desk with and box on the floor for her files with an L-shaped desk and purpose built hanger for her vertical files.

The third realised that although she had been in business for a number of years, she didn’t really have good systems and processes for storing her papers, and even her stationery.  She was always scrabbling around looking for something and getting frustrated. She is now developing systems and processes for her office so she can find what she needs when she needs it.

These are examples of a business idea that had a very narrow focus at the beginning and that, as a result of client feedback, has spread into a wider range of services than I ever imagined. I’m listening to those clients and enjoying the challenge of working in this broader space.

Working from home and the ‘home office’

I’ve blogged about home offices a bit over the past few months.  It seems to me that people are beginning to look at alternative lifestyle options that may mean a lengthy commute to the office every day.

At the same time however the technology has matured to the point where it doesn’t matter where you work, you can still be in touch with your colleagues and have access to your office computer system.  Or you can set up your own business based in an office at your home.

Recently newspapers have picked up on this trend.  The latest article I’ve seen was in the Dominion Post on 28 April.

Working from home isn’t for everyone as noted in this article in the New Zealand Herald.

The Christchurch earthquake has no doubt contributed to the good advice from the New Zealand Government business web site here.

And further afield comes advice about work life balance when you are working from your home.

And there’s lots more in magazines, other newspapers and numerous web sites.

While many of these articles are about working at your office job from your home, the same advice applies to those considering setting up a home based business.

No matter what sort of work you’re doing from your home, you need to have good systems and processes for coping with the information you need to do that work.