17th August
written by LS Girl

Organize business without software?

I’m going to warn you right now: This solution requires a notebook, and a rubber stamp. It’s not done completely in the cloud or on a spreadsheet, although you can incorporate these things. This method won’t apply to every business type or situation, but if it helps one person get out of the weeds, it was worth posting.

After setting up a few small businesses as a solopreneur, I realized the “work flow” was really getting complicated for me. “What do I need to do next” “Where am I with this order?” “Did this ship?” “Did I invoice this guy?” “Who owes me money, are they late in paying?”

I had stacks of papers, stuff online, notes – it was a mess.

After some struggling and a little trial and error, I found a simple method that works and is easy to transport with me if I need or want to travel. Here it is:

Using , I created and ordered this self-inking stamp:

do I need quickbooksHow to organize small business without software


How to use the stamp:
When you receive an order, no matter how you receive it. Perhaps you wrote it down on a napkin, or on a piece of paper or it came in through email or an order form. Simply stamp the paper with your stamp. This is your workflow, and you will easily follow it, like this:

“Send Acknow” stands for: Send Order Acknowledgement to Customer.
Check the little line once you’ve done this and write the date on the bigger line.

Example of the Outlook Order Acknowledgement template I use:

Thank you for your order!

Order Details———————-
Ship To:
Per Unit Price:

This simple step saves your customer a lot of wondering and it is how established businesses operate so this step makes you look like a professional.

“Order Inventory” stands for: Order whatever is needed to fulfill the order. Perhaps it means contacting your person on Fiverr, or 99Designs, or an expert across town. Maybe you need to order parts or products. Once this is done, check, and date that line item.

“Ship Order” stands for: Sending your product or service to your customer. It could be a logo design that you emailed them, or a link to a document you created. It could mean shipping a hand painted craft or custom-made item. It could mean shipping a widget you resell.

“Send Tracking” stands for: Sending shipper tracking numbers or confirmation that the item was delivered, and how. What I do: I go into my “sent” folder and I find the original order acknowledgement, and I simply forward this email and add “Files delivered via Dropbox, Order Complete” or “Your items have shipped! Tracking Number 1X89475893785943KJDI9” Something along these lines will do just fine. Check and date this line item.

“Send Invoice” stands for: Sending your customer an invoice, or processing their payment. Perhaps you only work with pre-paid sales or you require customers to put down deposits. If this is the case, I’d add those steps to your stamp, in the appropriate workflow, so it would probably be first, or after “Send Acknow”. Jot down the invoice number next to the date, for easy reference.

This is the best one! “Paid in Full-File” This means the job is done, you have received payment in full and you can file that paper (or throw it away if you have other means of keeping track electronically).

There is one more important piece that makes this all work, and that is the workflow folder notebook. Choose a folder notebook that aligns with your stamp. My stamp has six steps and I wanted a couple of additional sections so I chose an 8 folder notebook from, style #33081 in gray. At the time of this post, you can buy the item on Amazon for about $5. The stamp costs approximately $20 and I chose the 2 ½” x 1” style. If you have more steps you can get a larger stamp. Also, the binder counts the front and back inside folders as pockets, so be sure to order a folder notebook that has enough actual folder pockets, excluding the inside and outside pockets because they should be used to hold your sales, marketing, and reference materials.

organize small business

See the notebook on Amazon. 

IMPORTANT STEP: This is the most important step. Label your folders in the same order as the stamp. My folder pockets are labeled like this:

First Folder Pocket: To Do (for anything I need to do that isn’t covered by the stamp, and net new orders that need acknowledgements and inventory ordered)
Second Pocket: Awaiting Response (for anything that is pending someone else’s action to proceed with your workflow. For example, perhaps you send a job out to bid, or you are getting quotes or awaiting your across town vendor to say if they can do the job – this goes in “Awaiting Response” until it can begin moving through the work flow.
Third Pocket: To Be Shipped
Fourth Pocket: To Be Invoiced
Fifth Pocket: Awaiting Payment
Sixth Pocket: Paid-To Be Filed
Front folder pocket has a “cheat sheet” which lists the business name, address, telephone, tax ID number, and any other information that is essential if I’m traveling.
The back folder has reference materials like a price list, brochures and regular letter envelope with some extra business cards.

Organize business without software

If you need to leave the office for an appointment, I just throw your laptop and the notebook in your bag. If you are traveling,  put the stamp in a Ziploc bag and away you go. For some reason the stamp doesn’t like airplanes and the cover comes off so it’s good to put the stamp in a baggie. Or, you can look forward to shopping for new pants when you arrive because yours are covered with ink, which is what happened to me the first time.

As you achieve each step along the workflow of the stamp, your paper moves from folder to folder, until it works its way right out of the folder and into a box or file crate or is scanned and archived.

software to run small business

This stamp technique can work for anyone who needs to get from point A to point Z. If your work, hobbies, or personal life have areas where you are unorganized, this process may work nicely for you, and it only costs about $30 to give it a try.

If you have any techniques you’ve found helpful in keeping the flow of your small business or life’s work organized, please consider sharing them in the comments.


Thank you for reading!