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The Four Basic Divisions of Business

Manage your business with a plan. Color code your workload!

© 1997, by Lisa M. Roberts

Finance, administration, production and sales form the basis of every business, and a home business owner is just as aware of these four basic divisions as any other business owner. As you develop yourself as a sole proprietor, you'll come to learn that the tasks you perform to manage your business boil down to the following basic "departments":

  • Finances - bookkeeping, payroll, collection.
  • Administration - typing, filing, phones, office supplies, mail.
  • Production - performing the core services or buying the merchandise.
  • Sales - along with promotion.

The difference between a big business, small business and home business is in the volume. There are only so many products a one-person operation can sell, or only so many services a one-person operation can perform. Therefore the tasks involved in supporting that core business (product or service) are scaled down in proportion. The financial, administrative and sales end of a home business are manageable for one person -- because the volume of work expands or contracts in direct relation to the capabilities and limitations of the home business owner.

Color Coding

Still, how does a sole proprietor keep track of the four basic divisions of business ownership? The answer may be in color coding. Let's color finances green, administration blue, production yellow and sales red.

Green Finance - All tasks involving money are colored green. These may include:

  • Invoicing.
  • Collecting, depositing and recording checks.
  • Purchasing equipment, supplies, advertising and outside help.
  • Balancing books and evaluating financial outlook.
  • Preparing tax forms or meeting with accountant.

Blue Administration - All tasks involving administration are colored blue. These would include:

  • Reading and answering mail.
  • Creating and maintaining mailing lists.
  • Troubleshooting computer problems.
  • Filing and answering phone calls.
  • Tracking office supplies.

Yellow Production - All tsks involving production are colored yellow:

  • Planning with clients or meeting with vendors.
  • Performing the service or preparing the product.
  • Delivering the end result.

Red Sales - All tasks involving sales are colored red. These include:

  • Writing, designing, producing and distributing promotional materials.
  • Following market trends.
  • Investigating advertising and publicity opportunities.
  • Pitching to clients or customers.

Color Scheduling

Now that the colors are grouped together, they are easier to move around. Some home business owners color their weeks like so: Mondays red, Tuesdays yellow, Wednesdays green, Thursdays blue, Fridays Rainbow. While every day is likely to be a mixture of activities, the emphasis will be on the color of the day. Other home-based entrepreneurs color their days: mornings green, afternoons red, evenings blue, nights yellow. With this method, you may have:

  • Most evenings off -- finances for a home business rarely need attention every day.
  • Light days -- administration and sales can be broken up into bite-size assignments throughout the week.
  • Intensive nights -- a good time for focused, uninterrupted work.

Once you find your work pattern, the myriad tasks that are needed to manage a business may all settle naturally into place. So don't worry too much right now about the colors until you have a firm work schedule that fits your personal clock and family needs. But if you do run into trouble...remember the colors. They can be neatly arranged and can assist you in snapping the Big Picture into place.

© 1997 Lisa M. Roberts, all rights reserved. The above article is an excerpt from How to Raise A Family & A Career Under One Roof: A Parent's Guide to Home Business, a title highly recommended by La Leche League, Home Office Computing and the Family Christian Bookclub. Order your own copy today!

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