Updated: Feb 13, 2019
If only I had one dollar for every time I could not find a document I needed to work on; I’d have enough dollars to buy myself that Porsche 911 I’ve always wanted. One day… ;(
Organization will make your life a million times more simple.
Organization will impress investors and advisors.
Organization will help you in many situations.
Running a technology startup requires endless meeting notes, business documents, email drafts, strategic planning documents, design documents, company logos and images, competition applications, strategic outlines, and much more. Without an extremely efficient and effective organization strategy, your company will turn into one big pile of confusion in no time.
Being the President of VyB, I handle a lot of the moving parts that keep the company growing at a fast pace and try to avoid any mistakes that would hold us back from doing so: keeping VyB organized is one of those things.
My approach with VyB’s organization strategy is through our Google Drive. Who knew that such a simple tool could be so handy... Google provides the most amazing experience because you can share folders, you can store all file types in the Drive, and your team can all be working on the same document in real time. This shared access and real-time collaboration features are revolutionary for teams that can not be physically in the same room as each other.
As your team grows, you can provide different permissions to different members in an efficient and scalable way.
Steps to begin organizing your company
It is much easier to begin organizational practices early on than to try and declutter when documents begin to pile up later on. Here is a framework for folders and sub-folders that worked for VyB when we were first starting out:
Collect all of your company's documents into one folder in the Google Drive and title that folder the name of your company. This way, you have a great starting point and can see everything in perspective.
You will begin to see trends: documents that look like they belong together. My theory is that if there are two or more documents that could be in a folder together, then make an additional folder for them. Some of the main folders that VyB has and most companies should have are:
Business: Business Plan, Pitch Deck, Operating Model, Business Strategy.
Classified: Signed Legal Documents, High-Level Financial Information, Bills
Meeting notes: Notes for all meetings (make it a point to make one for every meeting)
Design: Logos, design elements of your company, business cards
Media: Drafted website content, Company Pictures, Company Videos
Human Resources: Employee Handbook, Company leadership elements, employing strategy
Team: Organization of team members, etc.
3. Divide and Conquer
Once you have all of the necessary folders created, it is time to begin throwing all of your documents into your classified folders. Every company is unique, so the folders above are only suggestive. If you see the need to create other folders, JUST DO IT!
4. Rinse and Repeat
Once you have all of your documents in folders, repeat the process but in each folder you created. For example, VyB has about 7 versions of our pitch deck, so we created a folder called ‘Pitch Deck’ within our ‘Business’ folder, to hold all of those documents. It is important that the version number controls every document, by simply putting a version number on the header or footer of the document.
5. Effective Naming
You are going to also want to keep your documents painlessly easy to identify. One way you can effectively do this is by keeping the titles of your documents short, yet practical, so you do not waste time trying to figure out what you are looking at.
For example, VyB creates a document every time we have a meeting (basically every day) and the purpose of this is to outline the goals of the meeting and have a place to draft emails and work together where we can all see what our team members are doing. We format all of these documents the same exact way and we title them ‘Meeting (date)’ so that when we go into the ‘Meeting Notes’ folder, we can easily find the document we are looking for based on the date.
VyB’s organization has impressed many people.
When we have shown our close advisors our Google Drive, they are shocked by just how organized and dynamic our documents are. The VyB team has been at many meetings where we needed to find a document on the spot, and we can do so because everything is so easy to locate. This has saved us from many awkward situations of waiting and not being able to find something that you are trying to show someone.
Extreme organization is surprisingly rare among startups and companies of all sizes. If you can employ this with your own company, you will be ahead of the game by default because you will not waste the hours of your time that accumulate rapidly every time you have a hard time trying to find one of your company's documents.
Many things are out of your control with the success or failure of your company. It is your job to make sure your company is best prepared for any situation that arrives to increase your chances for success. Keeping your company organized is one aspect that you can completely control, so it is imperative that you take advantage of this and do the best by your company!
If you have any questions or need organization advice, please feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com
Written by Mason Cohen. VyB Technologies, LLC. President.