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Organizing does not come naturally to me. I wish it did, and I’m totally jealous of the naturally organized person. I fear that I might be the least organized person on the planet. In fact, sometimes I think I sabotage all organizing efforts and make life difficult for myself because I am a glutton for punishment. But a nicely organized small business is really important, and I say that with authority as a partial owner of our small business, Oak Tree Homes.
Brief History of Our Small Business – Oak Tree Homes
My husband Dan and I started Oak Tree Homes way back in 2005 at the height of the housing boom. In 2006, we left our stable, secure life in the Air Force and set out to make our mark as entrepreneurs and small business owners. We knew we had our work cut out for us, but we had no idea about the wild ride we were in for. I’m sure you’ve heard the statistics about how many small businesses fail in the first five years of business, and when the housing market collapsed in 2007, we really had to scrap to stay afloat. I started this blog in 2010, in large part to supplement our meager income in those early business years.
One of the defining moments, and first major event for our small business, was moving from safe and comfortable Air Force life in Colorado Springs to the unknown in Eastern Iowa. We carefully prepared and organized a construction trailer at the beginning of 2006 and packed it with tools and our most beloved possessions. As we drove out of Colorado Springs headed east for Iowa one evening in early February of 2006, Dan had the misfortune of totaling our truck and trailer about 25 miles outside of Colorado Springs. In the blink of an eye, we found our life turned upside down, and our most prized possessions ended up scattered on the highway in a broken disaster. Instead of showing up in Eastern Iowa organized and ready to work, we literally limped to his hometown in complete chaos with wide-eyed disbelief. In some ways, we are still cleaning up from that fateful mess that happened almost ten years ago. In the process though, we have learned an awful lot about organizing our life and business and have quite a few huge accomplishments under our belt – like moving and restoring the gorgeous old barn picture above and turning it into our business offices!
5 Ways Labels Make Life Easier for Successful Small Business Owners
As I’ve said, we have not always been organized. Our intent is good, but the follow-through is sometimes lacking. Over the last ten years, we’ve learned an awful lot about organizing our business. We’ve used all kinds of labels to help – from handwritten notes to printables on sheets of labels, and finally we’ve started using the awesome Newell DYMO LabelWriter® 450 Value Bundle Pack that I ordered online from Staples.com. I love our new LabelWriter because it’s fast, efficient, and best of all, it doesn’t use ink; instead it uses a nifty thermal transfer process! I installed the DYMO LabelWriter quickly on my computer and am impressed with the easy platform. It auto-sizes my words so they fit perfectly on the label and it quickly prints any assortment of label you may want: from address labels, to multipurpose labels, shipping labels, name badges, and file folder labels.
The DYMO LabelWriter® 450 Turbo (which I don’t have) does even more than my 450 model by printing even faster! I love that the DYMO labelers eliminate the waste and hassle of sheet labels by printing precise quantities (up to 71 labels per minute!) without difficulty. The Turbo model also prints USPS®-approved DYMO Stamps® postage directly from your desktop – no monthly fee, contracts or commitments required. We don’t do a lot of shipping for our business, but if we did, I can see that the 450 Turbo would come in very handy. So how do labels make life easier for small business owners, you may ask?! Great question!
1. Labels help create predictable processes.
In a nutshell, labels help save time and money. We have found in our ten years of business that it’s better to rely on processes than people. People are notoriously unpredictable and unfortunately, unreliable. We used to have a hard time paying our bills, not always because we didn’t have the money, but because we didn’t have a good process. Once we developed a simple system of labeled folders it became much easier to make sure our bills were paid on time and our receipts were filed away like they need to be.
2. Labels can help keep you out of legal trouble in the event you need legal or tax help.
You never know if or when you will need to seek legal or tax help, but it’s always a good idea to be prepared for that reality. The IRS suggests keeping business tax records for seven years. In the unfortunate event that your business is audited, being about to quickly locate all receipts and tax information will really simplify the audit process. I’m knocking on wood here, because we have not been audited, but we are prepared by having accessible, labeled archives. I highly recommend that you make sure you can easily access seven years worth of receipts, bills, and records too as we know people who have been audited and the process can be a total nightmare.
3. Labels help you file that pile and put everything in its place.
I know you’ve heard the saying, a place for everything and everything in its place. Labeled file folders make filing much easier. Being able to put things away with the confidence that you can find them later is huge! You can guess that I have spent more wasted hours than I care to admit searching for things I should have been able to easily locate if all of our files had been nicely labeled from day one.
4. Labels make you look like you know what you’re doing, even when you don’t.
Everybody has to learn somehow, right, but that doesn’t mean you should look like you don’t have a clue. When stuff is put away in neatly labeled areas, it just looks like you have it all together, don’t you think? We’ve lived like the Clampetts from the Beverly Hillbillies for a number of years but are finally on the path to organized and efficient living. If you want to prove to clients that you know what you’re doing, organized, labeled spaces make a much better impression than stuff all over everywhere, and help prove to future clients that you can do what you say you can!
5. Labels save time and money by creating a home for everything – tools, inventory, swag etc.
This is an area we’re working on as most of our tools, inventory, and swag aren’t all labeled. But look at the difference we can make by labeling our stuff! Instead of having to wade through a tote full of tshirts, sweatshirts, and jackets, we can create neatly labeled shelves, by product and size. Boom! Want a XL, long sleeve Oak Tree Homes tshirt? There you go. Thanks to DYMO LabelWriter®, it couldn’t be easier to create time saving labels. Labeling, as well as organized tools and equipment, means less time wasted searching and fewer redundancies of buying items you already have! I am 100% convinced that an organized business will save you money and time every time you turn around!
Interested in the fabulous DYMO LabelWriter? Be sure to go check back every week for Staples Daily Deals for special deals on your favorite DYMO LabelWriter® products including DYMO LabelWriter® 450 Bundle, LabelWriter® 450 Turbo, and LabelWriter® 4XL Turbo! All DYMO products can be purchased at Staples online, and can also be found in a limited number of stores.
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This is how we’ve used the DYMO LabelWriter® 450 Value Bundle to organize our home building / remodeling business, Oak Tree Homes. How could it help you in your business or life?