Category Archives: Organization

Why Back to School Sales are Great for Direct Sellers

Depending on the supplies that you use for your direct sales business, back to school sales can be great for your business pocketbook.  You can get great deals on those products that you need year round.

Typically at this time of year I will pick up the following for my business:

Pens – A few boxes will go a long way, depending on how many people steal your pens

Paper – I try to use as little paper as possible, but sometimes it’s just easier

Stapler and staples – You probably don’t need this every year

Pencils – These always come in handy if your pens won’t work.  Can be particularly useful if you live in a colder climate where pens can freeze (great for using with mileage books)

Pencil Cases – When you buy pens and pencils, you need places to store them in.  This is especially true when doing parties where you are likely taking at least a dozen with you.  Also convenient for holding other items like business cards and calculators.

Notebooks – I keep one in my car for mileage and usually one in my party bag for notes to myself or to make notes for customers

Page protectors – These are great to put copies of specials in.

Duotangs – Folders with prongs in them.  If you like to give customers information to look at, this can be a great way to organize it.  Page protectors work great in here as the paper does not need to be replaced as often.

Flash drives – These have many names but they plug into your computer.  These are a great method for backing up data which you should be doing on a regular basis anyways.

Organizers – Back to school is a prime time to buy organizers and planners.  Students use them to track homework assignments and due dates but you can easily adapt them to your business needs.

Storage items – As back to school also means going off to school, you can find all sorts of storage solutions on sale.  This is a great way to get paperwork or inventory off the floor and into a system where you can find it later.

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Getting Ready for 2014

As you are wrapping up things for 2013, you can start getting items ready for the 2014 year.  Some tasks can be done in 15 minutes where some are a bit more time intensive.

Oh so much to do, to do today, tomorrow, the n...

Oh so much to do, to do today, tomorrow, the next day (Photo credit: Chapendra)

Accounting

While you are sorting out all your paper work for 2013, start your folders and fields for 2014.  This is a great time to do them as you know what did and did not work for you and you can make modifications or changes at this time.  If you wait until March, you may have forgotten what you wanted to change and spend another year not being as productive as you could be.

Reorganize Your Space

Chances are during the year, you haven’t had the time to keep your space neat and tidy.  Take this time to do that.  Find those shelving units you bought but never put together, the pen organizer that is still in the bag and put all the paper away.  Put the expired books in a cabinet to be used for trade shows or other events.

Restock Your Packages

If you have gone through a lot of hostess and recruit packages, start making new ones.  Depending on the timing of your company, you may not be able to put in catalogues but you can get everything else ready.

Prepare Mail-outs

If you do a mail out in the New Year with new catalogues, you can also get these ready while you wait.  Find envelopes and get the addresses onto them.  Print out any paperwork that you put into the envelope and put it in them.  Throw some business cards into the envelope or anything else that needs to go in that you have already.

Read Company Information

If you have gotten behind on some of the information relating to your company, take this time to get caught up.  I know I don’t always read the company emails that come out (the general information ones) so now is a good time to do it.  You never know what questions may get answered when you do this.

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Pack in Advance for Events

I don’t know about you, but when I have an event or a party, I always tend to forget something.  While many things stay in my bag between events, some come out as I need those items in other parts of my life.    That said, I have made a list to try and prevent this from happening in the future.  Packing for an event a day or two early helps with this as you will run into things and realize that you should take it with you.   I am a huge fan of lists, so I created one to remind me what I need to take and wanted to share it.

Suitcase

Suitcase (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To Pack:

  • Pens/Pencils
  • Order Forms
  • Catalogues
  • Pens
  • Business Cards
  • Stapler or Paperclips
  • Specials
  • Products (Do you have everything you want to show packed?)
  • Samples
  • Money bag/change
  • Hostess Packages
  • Recruit Packages
  • Props for any games such as a hostess game – dice, envelopes, music, whatever you require

If you are doing trade shows or vendor events, you will pretty much need everything above.  Depending on if you are able to sell off your table or not will determine what you bring for products.

Product to sell – If allowed, check with company if you are not sure.

Cannot sell – Bring samples and product to show to people and entice for bookings.

Product to sell, if your company allows you to.  If you aren’t sure, check with your upline or company

  • Expired catalogues to hand out
  • Notebook to write down any questions you need to research and phone numbers/email to let customer know
  • Sign up list for email newsletter if you have one
  • Table cloth
  • Table decorations

Regardless of the event, consider putting your hostess and recruit packages into fun bags to tempt people to want them.

Consider putting specials, order forms, a catalogue and a pen into a folder for each guest.

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How Open Source Software can Benefit a Business

For those that do not know what open source software is, it is software that is created under a special license which allows people to contribute to the product to further develop it.  It is free software and typically can do just as much as other software that you have to pay for.

When it comes to a business, there are many expenses that are incurred, but by finding the right open source software, you can save some of your money for other expenses.  This is particularly beneficial when you are just starting out and need to watch every penny that you spend or if your business is having a hard time making a profit.

Logo Open Source Initiative

Logo Open Source Initiative (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Open source software is especially great for a small business that does not have a lot of requirements for software because they can likely find something that will work for them that is open source.  Larger companies or those that have a very specific type of software may still need to purchase software to get the features that they require to run their business.

By using open source software you do not have to deal with buying licenses for each computer you have that runs that particular software.  This is one less financial expense as your business grows and expands.  Licenses can add up quite quickly and before long, you can have an expensive bill that you have to pay to use the program, not to mention the cost of buying the program.

A nice benefit to open source software is that if you are looking for a certain feature, you can get it programmed in for you and the cost would likely be cheaper than buying other software that costs money.  This would depend on what exactly you are having done, but it likely would be more beneficial to do this.

One great example of open source software is Open Office.  It has many of the same features of Microsoft Office but there is no fee for it.  You can find it at openoffice.org for download.  You can create documents, spreadsheets and much more with this program.  You can save your files and send them to someone with Office and they should be able to open them.

You can also find open source software for accounting, databases, pictures and many other types or programs that you may require.   Just do a search for “open source” or “freeware” and the type of software you need and see what comes up.  You can also go to download sites such as cnet.com

and search by type.

Do you have a favourite open source program that you use for either home or business?  Please share in the comments.

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Non Online Options for Backing up Direct Sales Data

Some people are not comfortable with backing up their data online which is fine.  I think a good backup system includes multiple options as you never know when one is going to fail.  For that reason, I have a variety of ways that I back up my direct sales business files as well as some of my other important data.  I will take you through the various locations of my data as well as where I back them up.

CD’s – A person doesn’t think of backing up their cds, but these can be scratched or corrupted in different methods in which case you would lose your data.  For this reason, you may want to copy that data directly onto your hard drive just in case.  Plus, cd’s can be easy to lose and you would hate to lose your direct sales business CD and not be able to work or not have your important files.

Flash Drive – A lot of files reside on my flash drive as I take them with me everywhere I go where i think i may need them.  This involves going to my day job or to my dad’s house if he needs me to help him with something.  It is also handy to move files from one location to another which happens if I am doing team training.  The flash drive is backed up onto my laptops hard drive as well as onto an external hard drive.  I also have an online storage account witBackup and Restoreh Dropbox that I will use.

Computer Hard drive – I currently run a laptop at home but I also have a desktop which does not work all that well.  When my desktop crashed, I did not have my data stored but thankfully I was able to get it operating long enough to retrieve my relevant data.  Again, a lot of this had been transferred onto my flash drive as I used it to go between the two computers, but there were bigger files I had not moved.  For this backup though, I have an external hard drive that has 1 terabyte of available space, which is ideal for backing up a computer hard drive as they tend to be big.  ‘

Laptop storage – I backup the laptop directly to the external drive.  Due to the size, I do not have other options of where to store files.  That said, pictures are burnt onto CD’s and other files could easily be put onto a CD.

Desktop – A desktop would have the same storage options as a laptop would.   I do know of people who have multiple external drives specifically for backup purposes.

External Hard drive – Unfortunately, due to the size of an external hard drive, the ways to back it up the hard drive are limited.  You can buy larger online storage options such as Mozy but then you will be paying a monthly fee and do you really need it just for your direct sales business files?  Pictures can be backed up to CD’s, and you may actually want to make more than one copy just in case one gets scratched or corrupted in some way.

When backing up your files, another good idea is to include a copy of the program you need to run the file.   Sometimes a file type is not supported by newer software so your files or useless or you may have a difficult time finding the program again if you re-format your computer.  For the amount of space the program makes, it is likely well worth it.

What methods do you employ to back up your direct sales data?  Do you use multiple methods like me or do you stick to just one?

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How can I get more accomplished in a day?

My first question for you is what are you doing all day?  Do you have applications like Facebook, Twitter, games or even email open all day?  These can suck you and take your productivity down to 0.  I would recommend shutting them down including your email and working on other projects.  You may be wondering about email, but I will explain.

An hourglass

An hourglass (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Email is a time waster as you either get a lot of messages or you get none.  If you get none and you keep hitting the refresh button, you are wasting time.  If you get a lot, chances are you are pouncing on each one when it comes in to deal with it.  This wastes a lot of time as you lose productivity switching from task to task.

What I recommend:  turn off you email and only check it every hour or two.  You will be more focused and resolve more issues when doing this.  I have done this myself and found it definitely made a difference!

A to do list and a timer are your friend.  Make a list of what you want to accomplish that day and approximately how long it will take.  Set the timer and off you go!  If you have time leftover, start the next task.  You could end up with spare time at the end of the day and then you can play.

If you take a break to check Facebook or other items, set your time for this too and stop when it goes off.  These can suck you in and two hours will go by without you noticing.

I’m having a tough time controlling my calendar. Any ideas on how I can keep things running smoothly?

May - Oct 2006 Calendar

Image via Wikipedia

Ah yes, no matter what we have going on, there is never enough time in a day to get things done.  There are a few things you can do depending on what exactly the problem is.

First, start with marking you calendar with everything that is going on.  If kids have soccer every Monday at 6:30, mark that down.  If you have a monthly book club that meets the second Tuesday of every month, write that down.  If you volunteer somewhere every Saturday afternoon, make sure that is recorded.  Now you know what time of yours is already booked.

Determine what you need to get done and how much time it is going to take.  Then schedule it in.  Maybe you have nothing going on Wednesday, so you set that aside for bookkeeping and phone calls to customers.  You could set Thursday aside for delivering orders if you have any, and if you don’t have any, maybe it would be a good time to do some advertising.

Of course, life may get in the way and you will have to move some of these things.  Maybe someone wants a party on Wednesday night.  That likely isn’t an issue and you can move your bookkeeping to Sunday afternoon or somewhere else that suits you.  Don’t forget to schedule in important things though such as a date night with your significant other or time to hang out with the kids and be silly.

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Time Management in Direct Sales

One of the biggest things that people in direct sales can have a problem with is time management.  Whether the consultant is a stay at home or one that works outside the home, it can be tough to organize your time and get everything done.  But there are some things that you can do to try and keep on schedule and finish your tasks.

To Do Lists

To do lists can be a great method to keep on track and to accomplish those things that need to get done.  You can create a daily to do list, a weekly list or a monthly list.  I prefer to create a monthly list and then pull things off of it to do on a daily basis.  The great thing about a monthly lilt is that you can use it each month.  The list can be just those items that are related to your business or they can be everything in your life.  It is up to you.

Scheduler

Another way to manage your time that can be helpful is to set up a schedule.  It may be in hour blocks during the day or you might want to use smaller blocks.  Whatever you find is the most helpful.  I always create my schedules in half hour blocks as it is enough time to accomplish something but not enough that you get tired of it and hate it.  This is especially true for dreaded tasks like phone calls.  You can get through several in half an hour and feel that you have accomplished something.

Small but Helpful Ideas

  • Create reminds on your cell phone if you tend to carry it with you
  • Turn off your email, Facebook, Internet
  • Close the door to wherever you work if possible
  • Ask family members to leave you alone while you work
  • Get rid of any other distractions – television, radio

Time Management for Sales Professionals

Planner screenshot

Planner screenshot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Unlike money, time is equally available to every individual globally. Each and every one has just 24 hours to plan and execute actions, deeds and activities of the day. Here is where time management comes in as every individual has to complete all the daily tasks within the time available.

With time management techniques, people could improve on the quality of work and quantity of work addressed to each day. Getting more things done in less time always gives a certain amount of satisfaction to an individual, but then having said that; allotting time to the most important tasks is also one major aspect that should be not be forgotten.

Time Management is a whole new ball game when it comes to executing sales deals on a daily basis. Every minute counts as the responsibilities of each person piles up if not addressed in stipulated time. Hence, planning every minute is vital when it comes to managing time. The following steps can help manage time effectively:

Analyzing current Time tackling strategies – Time Management firstly starts with figuring out one’s current strategy of performing daily tasks and segregating time for each and every client to be met every day. Tracing out loop holes and areas of improvement is a major step. Giving a thought to the time taken currently for each task to figure out any scope of improvement is necessary. Prepare a time-log and keep track of what is done every 15 minutes for almost 10 days to get a time graph on activities done. Try and improve productivity if the need and scope of doing more is traced out.

Prioritizing – A list of direct sales activities should be prepared with the estimated time to spend on each personal task and client meetings as the table could be daily or weekly. The next step is to give importance to each deed and get things done accordingly. A To-Do list can be made with all the activities ranked according to their importance and follow to get optimum productivity. Having and going according to such list helps the sales executive to decide and focus on the daily tasks and client negotiations. Moreover, the priorities can be set according to the importance or the urgency at which the activity needs to be completed.

Organizing and Scheduling – The requirement is being focused on prioritized tasks and deadlines at all times. In such cases, a planning tool can be of great help. Setting reminders, and jotting down important points for further reference actually help to address the issue on hand and presents ways to tackle them effectively. The four important steps to be kept in mind while making a planning tool are –

  • Record: Make a record of all activities and targets according to priorities on a daily basis
  • Review: Go through the individual targets in the planner so that the important tasks can be addressed at the right time
  • Remember: Have a rough draft of the plan in mind and the tasks mentioned to make planning and tackling tasks easier
  • Synchronize: Get a copy of your plan on all electronic devices for easy prioritizing

Avoid Procrastinating and Multi-Tasking: Putting off direct sales activities for later has always been an issue for people. Reasons for doing so are usually because the task or the deal seems overwhelming or unpleasant. In such cases, all one needs to do is to break the process into smaller portions and get those portions done on a daily basis. There is also a problem of getting started with disinterested tasks or clients, in which situation; a preparatory task of collecting data or required materials should be put into action or a pre-planned approach to the meeting with clients should be figured out.

It has often been claimed that multi-tasking does not really help to get tasks done on a daily basis. Shifting focus from one task to the other often results in wastage of time and lead in difficulty in focus on the tasks and maintaining focus when needed. So an ideal solution is to get a portion of one task done completely before shifting attention to the other. In case of meetings, sales executives should make sure that the negotiations are dealt with patiently and sufficient time is segregated to each and every client in order to achieve daily targets with comparative ease.

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This is a guest article written by Sapna, Manager at Taaza.com, an Indian horizontal site. Significant verticals include Jobs, Classifieds, News, Education, Photos, Movies, Travel, Shopping and Finance.

 

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The Need For Organisation In A Business

Potential Pitfalls Can Be Avoided With Good Planning And Organisation   

It seems almost glib to be pointing out the importance of organisation and planning in a business; after all, businesses are often referred to as organisations and you wouldn’t even be able to begin day one without a business plan! But while it does seem glib, you would be surprised how many businesses fail to think about organisation and pay little heed to the plans that they’ve painstakingly written.

Good planning and organisation is a cultural agenda that takes time to sow, cultivate and then organically grow. Every time you bring a new employee into the team, they will be swept along with the existing employees who are in turn influenced by the agenda that you set.

An agenda for change consisting of direction, goals and reward is a must, even something as simple as a Mission Statement can help prevent confusion among staff, and a few small but significant tweaks can help you to avoid the pitfalls that come from steering a rudderless business.

First, you must start by knowing your goals; this will help feed your Mission Statement. Then think about how you want to achieve your goal. If your goal is to increase sales, think about your sales team and how you can help them achieve it. Set realistic sales targets (even a highly skilled sales team can wither in the shadow of unrealistically high targets) and distribute them fairly between senior and junior team members.

When goals are reached there should be a reward, perhaps in the form of praise and recognition? When goals are exceeded there should be further reward. In this case, a little more is required such as a set of business gifts. These small details are all part of your planning.

The example above of a sales team with unambiguous organisation, senior and junior members with pertinent targets and a clear plan with goals and reward is an example that you can translate to any team and to any industry or sector.

Without planning and organisation you are doomed to fail, or at best fail to realise your full potential – with an uncertain economic backdrop, this is not an option.

Written by Rebecca