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Category Archives for Office Organisation

How can simply recording your work save you time?

I was speaking with an associate of mine earlier today about transcription and who uses a transcription service. She was surprised at the number of ways this service could benefit others so I thought I would share some of these with you.

For those who don’t know much about transcription, that’s when you speak and record (dictate) your words for a transcriptionist to type and format for you. This service has been provided for many, many years with cassettes, then mini and micro cassettes. While these tape options are still available, digital recording is now the way to go. The quality of the recording is usually much clearer plus you don’t need to worry about the tape getting damaged or chewed up. Better still, the digital voice files (mp3, wav, etc) can simply be emailed to your transcriptionist or uploaded to a secure server for your transciptionist to retrieve which saves both time and money compared to having tapes couriered.

Once the audio file has been typed and formatted – usually as a Word document – it is simply emailed back to you. Easy!

This associate that I mentioned earlier thought that transcription services were only used by lawyers or high-profile business-people dictating their letters.

Not so! Here is a very brief list of some of the uses of transcription services:

  • doctors – letters, reports
  • lawyers/legal staff – various letters & reports
  • busy students – lecture notes & assignments
  • business people – various documents such as interviews, books, blogs (yes, even blogs!), letters, reports, critiques, manuscripts, seminars, presentations, conferences, articles, newsletters, market research, focus groups, plans… basically anything that needs to be written up.
  • people writing books, particularly historians, biographies and family history, or elderly people who want to tell their story.

There are so many ways… this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Another of the benefits of using a transcription service is the time saving. For example, if you have hours of audio to be typed and you need the completed document urgently, it may be physically impossible for you to type it all yourself. However, many professional transcriptionists are part of a larger team and the workload can easily be shared. With numerous people working on your files it will be much easier to meet your deadline. And don’t worry about the confidentiality side of things. Most professional transcriptionists will happily sign a confidentiality agreement and strictly adhere to these policies. Their business reputation is their livlihood.

There are various points to consider when sourcing a good transcriptionist plus many things you can do while recording to help reduce the cost of this service. I’ll post about these over the coming week along with what sort of equipment you need to get started.

Stay tuned…

Home Office Security – what you NEED to know

Operating a small business may require you to meet many strangers. While this is generally accepted as part of business – and often an enjoyable part of it – how can you protect yourself if you operate your business from home?

Most people we will encounter will be genuine, sincere people who wouldn’t even contemplate doing any harm. Unfortunately, it is difficult to pick the tiniest percentage who do not mean us well. Here are some precautions you can take:

1. Be wary of inviting strangers into your home. To avoid this, perhaps you could offer a free pick-up and delivery service (this can include the use of a courier). If you go to a client’s home to pick-up or deliver work/goods, avoid entering their home. This can be a courtesy issue as well as a safety issue.

2. Consider meeting with prospective clients/new business associates in a local cafe.

3. Ensure that you can see your front door from your office. If not, it is imperitive that you keep the front and back doors locked (this is a good idea even if you can see the door). Ideally, security doors and windows offer protection without you becoming a prisoner in your home. Time and time again you hear of homes/offices being burgled while someone was in another room, and all to often this could have been avoided.

4. Avoid giving out your home-office address on general advertising, stationery, etc. Get a Post Office Box for all business mail.

5. If your workplace is not a part of the main house, ensure that it is adequately secure when you’re not there (even if you just popped up to the house for a bite to eat).

6. Don’t leave any money or valuables on the premises. Bank taking regularly to minimise loss if you are burgled.

7. Consider installing a burglar alarm and smoke detectors (smoke detectors are compulsory in some cities) and make sure you have all your business asssets adequately covered through insurance. Remember, not all home contents insurance policies will cover your home office/business assets.

Time to get organised

Eariler this week I spent a couple of hours with a friend and client who runs a successful small business from her home. I went there to help her de-clutter and tidy her office – to get her organised.

This lady is great at her job and has fantastic relationships with her customers. However her biggest challenge in business is keeping up with the administration side of things. She detests doing admin tasks, bookkeeping, replying to mail, etc. and we recently discovered that this is because her office is so disorganised and messy that she can never find anything. The worse it gets, the more she avoids that room and the worse the problem becomes.

Sadly, this is all too common however it can be easily remedied. We began by clearing her desk – taking absolutely everything off and giving it a dust. Then we began to put back WHAT WAS REALLY NECESSARY. First, the major things like her computer. Then we added a set of in/out trays, stacked in the corner. Finally, ONE personal photo.

In one of the trays we placed a notepad, the phone message pad and a folder containing notes – you know the sorts of yellow post-it notes you have stuck all over the desk? Write them in a handy book or notes in a file/folder.

Next we went through the piles of paperwork and spread them over the floor. These were sorted into the following piles: filing, accounts, to be acted on, reading. Then each of these were put into different coloured manilla folders in the top in/out tray. Easy! When she wants to check on an account, she looks in the purple folder, and so on.

Pens and other often-used stationery items were all put into the top drawer, except one biro that was left on her desk.

Get into the habit of acting on paperwork as soon as you get it and it won’t pile up and get lost. If something needs filing, put it straight into the filing folder. If it needs acting on, do it NOW or put it in the folder to be done when appropriate. If you want to read it, do it now or again, put it in a folder til later. You may not be able to deal with each item immediately, but at least it’s out of the way and you know exactly where it is.

After just under two hours we had the place looking spotless. You will find that by keeping things tidy and in order you will save a heap of time in looking for things, you won’t overlook important documents and you will feel so much better about actually going in to your office and doing things!

As for my friend… she is feeling much more productive now. What’s the next step for her? We’ll be setting up some systems to simplify her workload and automate as much as possible.

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