Organize Your Online Business
An article by Tablö Creative
Remember that “back to school” feeling, when you’re really motivated to write in your agenda everyday? Starting with a clean slate is an exciting opportunity. Forming new habits can be challenging, but it’s crucial when starting a new business to lay a solid foundation of good habits at the beginning that will stick with you throughout your career. These tips will help you feel less stressed, work faster and more efficiently with others.
Needle in a Haystack: Folder Structure
You can use subscription based Cloud Storage with a service like Dropbox or Google One if you have a team of 2 or more, and want to work collaboratively on design or video files. This folder structure will still apply if you’re a solo entrepreneur saving all your files in one place. Pro-tip: If you're storing your files directly on your computer, be sure to regularly save back-ups on an external hard drive!
One folder to rule them all
If you have other side hustles or contract work, you can further organize your Work folder accordingly. We have a Tablö folder that contains everything we need to run our business. From there, we break it down like this:
Brand: Our brand assets – logos, print designs, etc.
Business: Any paperwork you need for taxes or accounting.
Design: These are resources for our “design toolkit”, like style guide templates, or device mockups.
Partners: We prefer to call our “Clients” Partners, since we approach our business a little differently than the typical agency structure. You can call this folder Clients if you prefer.
Photography: Raw photos, separated by date.
Social: Prepared exports for Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, etc.
Stock: Stock photos, stock video, and royalty-free audio.
Video: Raw video footage, separated by date.
Website: Assets like fonts and photos cropped and optimized for web use.
It’s a good idea to keep raw footage & photos separate from working video files, and exported files. Any exports or cropped versions can be saved in their appropriate location depending on the use case. Pro-tip: keep saved versions of any working files you send to a client. You don’t want to face the nightmare scenario of them asking to revert back to a previous version you no longer have! You never know who will change their mind – it could even be someone on your own team.
Whenever you acquire a new client (congrats!), create a folder for them, and then use the same folder structure above. This will vary depending on the type of business you run, but consistency is key!
Sometimes the naming conventions you choose will be different depending on the use case scenario. Make the decision with your team, and stick to them. Be consistent!
Organize raw photo and video files into folders by date like this: 2019-11-02.
Files intended for use on the web should use lowercase letters and hyphens instead of spaces:
In the early days of your business, or with a new hire, check in periodically to ensure everyone is following the set conventions. With repeated use it will become habitual.
Anti-multi-tasking: Browser Tabs
If you’re listening to your mom talk while also scrolling through your Twitter feed, you’re probably not really listening to your mom at all. Switching between tasks is sometimes necessary, but it’s best to focus on one thing at a time to devote your full attention to.
So what does this have to do with Browser tabs? I’m sure you’ve found yourself doing some research, sourcing stock photos and audio clips, while answering emails and drafting a proposal. In no time you find yourself with 50 browser tabs open. Crowding your mind with too many things at once can cause you to feel stressed or overwhelmed.
Instead, group tabs into separate windows. This way, you can switch from one task to the other, and only have in view the resources you need to get that job done.
Compartmentalizing tasks and activities can go a long way to helping you stay focused.
Managing accounts: LastPass
Password management is especially important if you’re working with a team, and if you’re managing clients’ accounts like social media. Your client is trusting you with sensitive information, so you need a secure solution (not a spreadsheet) that will go with you wherever you are (not written in a notebook you forgot at home). You also want your team members to have instant access to any new accounts.
Enter: LastPass. A Secure Password Management mobile app or browser extension. You only have to remember 1 master password. Once you’ve gained access, automatically login to all your tools, and generate secure passwords for any new accounts you create.Keep going...
LastPass uses strong local-only encryption (meaning data stored in your vault is kept secret, even from LastPass), and optional multi-factor authentication. Free accounts are sufficient for your average user, but very affordable family and business plans are also available.
Collaborative working: Google Drive
Static applications like Microsoft Word and Excel make collaboration next to impossible. Ever worked at a place where every time a change was made to a spreadsheet or a document, you’d have to email everybody a new version, with no traceability as to who made a change or when? We’ve been there too. Kick that old-school way of working to the curb and use Google Drive!
Create Documents, Spreadsheets, Forms, and Slides from your Google account. You can collaborate on documents, suggest corrections and leave comments – all in real time. You can also look back at version history, and auto-saving means you never have to worry about forgetting to save your changes. Did we mention it’s free?
Pro-tip: organize your Google Drive folders in the same way you do your local or cloud storage that we covered in part 1. This way, you can modify sharing permissions on the folder-level, meaning you don’t have to share files one at a time. You can also set permissions on whether the person you’re sharing with can edit or just view.
Project Management: Teamwork
Teamwork’s free plans allow 2 active projects and 10 MB storage. Paid plans start at $12 per month. Compare that to Basecamp, a popular project management software, at $99/month. We’ll be writing an entire blog post about Teamwork and how robust of a platform it is to keep track of any project, no matter how simple or complex. There’s just too much to cover here, so check back to learn more about it in an upcoming blog post and why it’s the best project management software we’ve ever used!
Freshbooks started in our hometown of Toronto. They foster communities of entrepreneurs with an awesome podcast, and by organizing free networking events in communities across Canada & the US. On their website or mobile app, you can:
- Get a quick glance at how much income is outstanding and overdue.
- Input your time, or use their timer for the easiest time tracking ever!
- Create invoices in seconds, know when your client viewed the invoice, and set-up automatic reminder emails when invoices are overdue.
- Your clients can pay invoices online by credit card or using Apple pay.
- Add expenses as you go – take photos of your receipts and upload straight from your phone, so you never have to go digging through your emails during tax time ever again! You can create recurring monthly payments like your Adobe Creative Cloud license. Set it and forget it!
- You can also set expenses as billable if you buy something on a client’s behalf, and it’ll be automatically added to your next invoice.
They also have award winning customer support. We’ve never had to use it because their system is so user friendly, but it’s good to know it’s there if you need it!
Have you incorporated any of these habits or tools in your business practice? We’d love to hear about it! Tweet to us @tablocreative and use the hashtag #unconventionalcreatives to share your tips on how you keep your business organized and thriving.
About Tablö Creative
Tablö Unconventional Creatives is a Toronto based full-service agency. We take a strategic and personalized approach to telling your brand’s story, offering a range of services from digital marketing, branding, content creation, web development and sustainability consultation. We’re all about using our creativity to solve your unique business challenges and reach your goals.