Home Computer Business – The Dirty Dozen – Mistakes To Avoid (#6 & #7)

This article is one of a series, collectively titled “The Dirty Dozen: Mistakes That Could Ruin Your Business.” Making these mistakes can be very costly in both time and money, but all of these possible mistakes can be easily avoided by some advance knowledge and planning ahead. Although I think the information in this series of articles can be very valuable to home business operators, it is very important for you to know that I am writing this series of articles solely from a “lessons learned” perspective. I am not a legal, tax, or accounting professional. You should consult an appropriate professional for detailed advice that is specifically relevant for you and your business.

In this article, I am going to discuss the potential problem areas of being disorganized and not backing up important information.

If you are an “everything in its place” kind of person, you are already ahead for meeting your business goals. On the other hand, if you are one of those people who is often saying, “I know it’s around here somewhere,” you just have to get your business life organized. (Leave the old magazines piled up and let your garage keep looking like the mother of all yard sale collections if you want to, but organize your business life!)

Even if you are “organizationally challenged,” this doesn’t have to be too difficult. Here are some ideas.

First of all, buy at least one box of file folders. Plain manila is fine. Some people (me, for example!) like the colored ones, because the colors themselves can be part of your organization plan. For example, all the resource materials that you are studying could go in blue folders, your financial records could go in green folders, etc. Just think about the types of information you will be using, and make a list of the titles of folders that you will need to keep information where you can find it. If you don’t already have a file cabinet, don’t feel like you must rush out and buy one. A plastic file crate or file boxes from your office supply store will be fine to start with.

Big Hint: Having a huge stack of “to be filed” materials and a file drawer full of beautifully labeled, empty file folders doesn’t count as being organized!

Expect to revise your filing system as you go along, learning more about what kind of information you will need in your business.

If you are (or become) comfortable with maintaining files on your computer, that can cut down on your organizational demands a lot. Just like you can set up file folders for your papers, you can set up file folders on your computer also. You can even put folders inside of other folders. If you are working with a PC type of computer, with your cursor over your desktop, just right click. A short menu will appear, with one of the choices being “New.” Click on “New,” and then click on “Folder.” It even has a little icon that looks just like a manila folder. A new, empty folder will appear on your desktop. Highlight the words “New Folder” underneath the folder, and type in the name you want that folder to have.

Do this every time you have material that needs to be electronically filed. Each of your folders can contain both individual files and other folders. After a while, you will probably start to feel like there are a lot of folders cluttering up your computer desktop, so let’s clean that up.

Look at your folders and think about what categories they fit into. Maybe you have folders labeled:

Meeting Notes: Joe

Email Passwords

Product 1 Description

Online Ordering Passwords

Planning Meeting Jan

Product 2 Description

Product 1 Ads

Bank Passwords

Meetings with Bob

Planning Meetings Feb & March

Product 2 Ads, etc.

You can probably already see where I’m going with this. Make new folders labeled:

Passwords

Meetings (or maybe two: Meetings with Individuals, and Planning Meetings)

Product Descriptions

Product Ads

Then click on your “Email Passwords” folder and drag it into the “Passwords” folder, and keep going until all of your individual folders are in category folders. (Remember that your folders can each contains individual files, also). For example, I have a folder that is called “Dirty Dozen Drafts,” which contains more than 10 files, each of them a different revision of this book as I worked it through multiple drafts.

You can take it one step further, by making a “master” file (“My Computer Business”) and putting all your business folders into that one folder. Now you have cleaned up your desktop, your information is all in one place, and you can easily locate whatever you need. Which brings us to another gigantic possible problem!

Whether you maintain paper or electronic records (or both), it is crucially important that you always have back-ups for essential information. There are many ways to do this. You can photocopy paper information, or scan it into your computer and save it electronically. Make back-up copies of your electronic files. Just about everyone I know has had at least one horrible experience with a computer locking up and being unable to get to important information.

Ideally, your back-up information will be stored in a physically separate location from your primary records. You have only to look at the news scenes of disasters caused by fire, weather, etc. to know why this is important.

One more time, please remember that what I am giving you here is only my personal understanding of these topics. I advise you to get professional assistance.

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Business Folders As Premium Printing Products

The use of folders in the business environment is not new. In fact, they are the heaviest users of this stationery product. They can help in many ways. The routine business tasks are handled with the help of these products effectively. Document management is the most important task for these products though they can be used for some secondary tasks as well. In other words, the role of business A4 folders is not limited to just one task.

The requirements of a business setup may be very challenging and dynamic. Some of them may require the use of specific products to serve them well. In a seminar or conference, the basic folder is of not that much use as compared to the business presentation folders that are produced for this purpose only.

Sometimes, the documents are not only to be managed but also carried from one place to another. The wonderful business pocket folders play the best role in this regard as they have pockets on the inside of their covers which can keep and protect the documents from slipping out. They can also retain business cards, brochures and other such documents.

The business is not the only place where these products are used. We can find them being used at many places. You can find them in schools, colleges, universities, hospitals, stores, libraries and archives. They can help keep the documents in assorted manner for ease of use and record keeping. They are also used in a product launching ceremony in the shape of presentation folders.

Sometimes, they are used in the special ceremonies. For example, the college graduation ceremony happens only once in a year. They can be used at such ceremonies as the certificate folder for the decoration and protection of the graduation certificate.

Starting a Home Business – 5 Things You Must Do Before You Start

I’m the first person to just “jump in” to something without preparing properly. Like when I joined the gym after months of being sedentary. I marched right in to an hour long class of nonstop weight-lifting followed by an intense abdominal routine. Not smart! I completed the class, and could barely walk out. My legs were buckling beneath me, and for the next several days I could barely move. Every single fiber of my being screamed in pain. Well, maybe some of us are just risk-takers, but sometimes not preparing is just plain stupid and counterproductive, and can produce major consequences. This article will tell you a few vitally important things to do before you officially “jump in” to a new online business.

1. Set up an office space – Even if the space is small (mine started out with a laptop on an end table and a portable file box!), have a designated area just for your computer, a printer, and some file folders. You will be accumulating a LOT of information (especially if this is a new venture for you), so while it doesn’t have to be perfect, it should be organized in a way that you can find what you need quickly.

2. Computer backup – Learn how to back up your system and do it regularly, especially once you start accumulating and creating material. If you have a computer with a CD-RW drive, you can copy folders and documents from your computer onto a CD. Over time, you will accumulate hundreds of important documents and emails, so I highly recommend creating a backup CD once a week. If you use Outlook for email, you can export all your Personal Folders to a single file (usually “outlookbackup.pst”), which you can then copy onto a CD or somewhere else on your hard-drive. There are also secure online backup programs, such as Mozy.com, which offers a free account to backup your system. The program runs automatically, and setup is a piece of cake.

3. Organize your computer files – As you start your online business, you may get overwhelmed at the amount of information that will come at you. Before this happens, start setting up file folders on your computer to organize it. You will learn quickly about eBooks, and will no doubt receive many offers for free material that will help you in building your business. Wherever you keep documents on your computer (typically “My Documents” in Windows), set up a folder system to organize everything that you save on your computer related to your business. For instance, create a folder called “EBOOKS”, and within that folder, create subfolders to organize your eBooks and title them with the author’s name or the topic of the eBook. Other folder ideas are “Articles,” “Website Projects,” “Keyword Research,” “Blogs,” etc.

4. Organize your Email – As you start your online business, emails will come pouring in. Whether it’s for an affiliate program you sign up for or from various accounts you’ll need such as your webhost, you’ll need to have a system to organize them all. If you use Outlook, set up accounts not only for your personal email, but also for email accounts you will create for your website. That streamlines all accounts into one program for easy access. For your business email, set up a separate folder called “Business” under “Personal Folders,” NOT the Inbox. That way, emails you get from your website go directly into that folder and never get mixed up with your personal emails. Also, set up subfolders within your Inbox like “Receipts,” “Website,” and “Affiliate Programs,” to help keep things separate and easy to find. If you don’t know how to add folders, the simple way is to first open up Outlook. Under “Mail Folders” click once on “Inbox,” then right-click, and scroll down to “New Folder.” It’s that easy, and you’ll be so glad you did it. (You can also set those subfolders up in your Business folder.)

5. Organize your time – Starting a new business is a time-stealer. You will find yourself saturated with new information that you may or may not be eager to learn, but it will take TIME to learn, nonetheless. It’s easy to get tunnel vision and initially overlook other responsibilities. It is hard to balance, so you must make a plan before you start. Remember your responsibilities with family, your work (if you have another job), home, etc. Make sure you have the support of friends and family in starting your new business because you will no doubt see a decrease in the time you spend with them. If they are supporting you, they will be more understanding when you can’t devote the time they’re used to. Set aside slots of time just to study or work on the computer, etc. It will be better for you and your friends and family if they know what to expect.

And one other crucial thing to remember is to take breaks. If you’re starting an online business out of desperation to make more money, this is especially important. An unhealthy drive to “hurry and get it done” can cause you to overwork yourself, which will lead to stress, anxiety, exhaustion, and ineffectiveness in your work. Step away from your work every hour or two and breathe, stretch, grab a glass of water or a snack. Take care of yourself!

Taking a little extra time to prepare for the start of your business may seem unimportant at first; but in the long run it will save you hours of work, the headache of lost files and information, give you instant gain in efficiency, plus a major advantage towards the success of your business!