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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Using Conference Folders As the Promotional Product of Choice

Any business, big or small, requires to be promoted. With stiff competition in all spheres of business marketing, companies look for innovative ways to market their product and services. A promotional conference folder is a practical and effective way to advertise a business. These folders are handed out to clients and other attendees at industry conferences and seminars, either by the conference organizers or by individual presenters. Often, these folders are part of the presentation folders which are given to all those present for a particular talk, and contain details of company agendas, sales descriptions and other meeting materials.

Why Use Conference Folders As Means of Promotion?

The marketing manager or the public relation officer at an organization suggests the distribution of folders as part of their advertising campaign in the upcoming conference meet. Since the meet will be an important event attended by some of the esteemed clients of the company, as well as prospective clients, presenting them with a conference folder is an effective way to spread word about the company. Let us see how.

Corporate conference folders are given to delegates attending the meet so that they can take notes, place important papers and documents in one place, and also keep the business/visiting cards of new contacts they meet during the length of the conference. With such a useful item to take care of all kinds of documentation, delegates are sure to make a mental note of the company’s name and logo which features on the cover of the folder.

This strategy is known as brand recognition, and is highly effective in leaving an imprint on the peoples’ minds. This is the primary goal of any promotional product- to make a company’s product and service a common name for existing and prospective clients. Nobody forgets a thoughtful and practical gift which saved them mindless worry over keeping documents safe. Another reason why companies use a branded conference folder is the brand visibility factor which it offers at events like corporate seminars and meets. Sales representatives and other executives who participate or are present at these conferences also help in the brand promotion of a company. With them carrying a folder which displays the company’s name, logo and tag line makes for a smart advertising strategy.

The sales executives interact with a number of people at the conference meet for various reasons, and participate in clinching deals, making sale presentations, and travel. A business folder can do the work of an advertisement in these situations quite effectively. Also, a promotional product like a conference folder is an item of everyday use. People can find use for it for storing various documents, pens and pads, and be ever ready for an urgent business meeting. No more last minute looking around for papers that are strewn somewhere on your desk!

How To Design Presentation Folders: Four Common Mistakes To Avoid

Presentation folders offer companies a great way to disseminate information to their respective markets while propagating the company’s brand. They help keep marketing materials stay organised and also influence public perceptions about the company. These folders come in many sizes and styles. Standard size is A4, but this may also be made smaller or larger depending on the size of the documents to be placed inside. Pocket designs are also varied; some folders have only one pocket for documents, while others can have separate pockets for CDs and even calling cards. However, even with all these customisation options, many businesses still fail to create attention-grabbing folders. To help companies design a compelling presentation folder, here are the four most common mistakes that they should avoid:

Using folder designs that are too plain or too busy – It’s important for companies to remember that the folder holding their marketing materials can also be used to represent the company. Many people check the content placed on folders before they even proceed to the pamphlets inside; as such, a plain folder is unlikely to entice readers to check its contents because it is not interesting enough. This doesn’t mean, however, that you should fill every inch of the folder’s surface with graphics or text – a busy folder design may repel readers or distract them from understanding the company’s message.

Placing too much text on the folders – Text on the folder should just be enough to persuade readers to check the documents inside – they should not serve as a replacement for the information that the documents hold. More often than not, if you place too much text on the folder, some of the information there will be in conflict with those in the documents, and you may eventually be forced to create a new design altogether just to address the conflict. To be able to reuse your design for many purposes, try to keep text at a minimum.

Using low-quality paper stock – It may seem like such a simple issue, but the type of paper that you use will actually have profound effects on the overall appearance of your folder. High-quality paper stock may absorb ink better and enhance your folder’s overall design. In addition, sturdy materials will also ensure that your folder will be able to withstand stresses from handling.

Choosing the wrong printing service – Many small businesses often choose inexpensive presentation folder printing services to save money. However, do remember that cheap printers are likely to produce sub par results. It’s important to do research on and ask for samples from several printing companies to make sure that you are still getting quality prints while sticking to your budget.