For many solopreneurs they think that once they’ve set themselves up in business it’s all about marketing, marketing, marketing. But there’s one very important piece of the puzzle you need to have in place before you start your marketing … and that’s your managing.

Building a successful long-term profitable business isn't about "marketing" your business, it's about "managing" your business - the marketing comes once you have your management systems in place… this is a really important concept, and once you’ve got to grips with this, marketing becomes a whole lot easier!

You cannot begin to market your business if you can't find the information you need, don't know who you are marketing to, and don't know where you are in your business.

So what I’d like to share with you today are my top 5 steps to setting up your core office organization systems.

1. CREATE your paper-based filing system. Having an efficient filing system in place will enable you to find the information you need, when you need it! First of all invest in your filing storage, whether that’s a dedicated filing cabinet or plastic filing crates. Keep in mind you will need TWICE as much storage space as you think you’ll need. When setting up your filing system it’s important that you design a system that fits YOUR style.

2. TACKLE the Paper Pile using my super-simple Two-Step System. This is a really quick and simple way of tackling your piles of paper. The goal is to get all the papers off your desk and floor and either have them filed away for when you need them again; in a special ‘action’ folder that you work on during your allotted ‘action focus’ time; or quite simply tossed! You would be surprised at how many papers you are holding on to that when you look back at them you find are either out-of-date or simply not relevant to your business needs anymore.

3. CREATE your PC filing system. Once you’ve got the first two steps completed, this third step actually becomes quite easy. Your PC is also a large filing cabinet, so it makes sense to replicate your paper-based system for the PC. If you have created main category files, then create a main category folder in your ‘My Documents’ folder on your PC, and create sub-files in this main folder as necessary. Repeat this process for all your main filing categories.

4. ORGANIZE your Inbox. Emails! Another huge time drain if not organized properly. Use the same system again to store and manage all your emails. Instead of them all going into one huge Inbox that’s totally unorganized, break your Inbox down into different folders and move the relevant email into that folder. Follow the same system as for your paper and PC-based filing systems. In Outlook you can create Email Rules so that emails are automatically moved into the appropriate folder as they come into your Inbox. Consistency is the key to an efficient filing system. Keeping to the same system will make it much easier for you to manage.

5. CREATE a PC and file back up system. Now that you’ve spent time creating all these systems it’s vital that you also have a PC back-up system in place. You simply cannot afford to lose any of your vital documents when you run a solo service business. In fact I highly advise having two back up systems in place – one onsite and one offsite. The onsite back up can be through an external hard drive, and the offsite back up service can be through an automatic backup service.

Make a plan today to get these core systems in place and your business will start to become effortless and fun – isn’t that an exciting thought!

(c) 2009 Tracey Lawton

Author's Bio: 

Office organization expert, Tracey Lawton, teaches professional speakers, coaches, and authors how to create the essential online marketing and office organization systems needed to operate an efficient, organized, and profitable business. Learn how YOU can create an efficient and organized office in 7 EASY steps, and receive free how-to articles at