Spring Cleaning Your Business
Start with Your Workspace
Before the digital revolution, spring cleaning your business meant cleaning out your paper files and filling trash cans – or recyclable containers – with dated or unneeded reports, letters, sticky notes and spreadsheets. Even though most of those documents are now stored on computer files, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) says it’s still a good idea to ditch those old items. It’s part of cleaning your workspace and can free up valuable computer storage space.
Cleaning out your digital space should also extend to ridding yourself of unneeded or unused internet sites or accounts. Over the course of a year, anyone who works online accumulates varying amounts of saved emails, favorite links or saved downloads. Spring is the perfect time to clear out that old stuff and make room for the new fiscal year.
“We set aside time to do both a physical and digital spring cleaning. Purging our office and re-organizing work spaces and storage closets leads to a more productive work environment. Digitally organizing, deleting and archiving files and folders that are no longer used removes clutter and allows for more efficient work. Un-enrolling your email from lists is a great way to spring clean your inbox,” Leila Lewis, of Be Inspired PR, tells the Huffington Post.
Starting with your workspace, both physical and digital, is a great way to start spring cleaning your business because it’s something everybody can do on their own and to their own standards. It’s also a good idea to tackle something that is easily achievable. In GoDaddy.com’s spring cleaning tips for small businesses, Tom Rankin, a staff writer at WordCandy, suggests taking on “one tiny problem” first to get the dust ball rolling.
Fluff Up Your Image
While you’re deleting old documents, it’s probably not a bad idea to consolidate those you need to keep and refresh those you use regularly. Stagnation in any business can take root by never changing regularly used company documents. While clients, contractors and customers may appreciate the character and stability of your business, giving your company documents a good fluffing every now and then is a good idea, especially when those templates are decades old. A new look on letterhead, invoices and contracts can enliven your company’s image for both customers and employees.
A corporate makeover of documents or image isn’t necessary each spring, but Entrepreneur.com suggests it’s not a bad idea for companies to freshen their appeal. This could include updating corporate colors or logos, or breathing new life into a staid mission statement. This is particularly pertinent to companies that are expanding or beginning to serve new markets.
Streamline Your Processes
While you’re cleaning your digital world, it’s probably not a bad time to consider removing any old work processes that are costing time and money. Consider automating inventory control, ordering, accounts receivable and payable, marketing and social media management. Dynamic digital business partners can provide solutions to automate all those activities which frees up retailers to spend more time with their customers.
“I think that things change quite rapidly, and if you don’t look at the business as a whole on a yearly basis, it will get stale,” Pam Greene, co-founder of Klamath Falls, Oregon-based Amcom Tax and Accounting, suggests to the NFIB. “It’s also a time to re-evaluate procedures. We do a procedural spring cleaning and see if anything needs to be updated.”
Check Your Locks
Much like changing a smoke alarm battery when daylight saving time turns to standard time, the annual business spring cleaning is a good time to inspect and, if necessary, invest in security systems. Without an up-to-date system, your store or company could be at a variety of risks.
Reorganize Your Work and Workers
Just about every do-it-yourself show on television nowadays offers tips on how to re-use and repurpose items you might have around the house into new and useful goods. While you’re considering altering your business processes, you might consider repositioning employees into jobs that better fit their skills or nature. Some of them might consider reassignment a fresh change of pace and an opportunity to better use their skills.
The annual renewal that spring brings to nature – blooming flowers and greening grasses – is also a good time to help your employees blossom by learning new skills or sharpening those they already have. Offering training seminars or time off to attend college classes can be a way to bring new energy to your business.
Spring cleaning your business can also include bringing on contractors or business solution partners who can offer a fresh perspective on your business and market. They can provide suggestions on how to better operate, or give you organizational or management tools that make doing business easier.
Rankin suggests “throwing an outsider” at your business to either simplify your processes or give you third-party feedback on how you might work smarter.
“Whether it’s bookkeeping chores, fulfilling an order, or dealing with customer support, get an outsider into your business and try and talk them through a task. Simply explaining your approach to common processes out loud is guaranteed to highlight weak points in execution, and the external feedback you get will identify easy wins you might never have thought of alone,” he writes.
Chelsea Moore, founder of BoxFox and YEC member, says hiring contractors or consultants, allows her to focus on the parts of her business that she enjoys. That means farming out certain aspects of her business to experts in those fields.
“Focus on what you’re great at (for me, that’s driving the big-picture vision of the company), and keep a clear head to go in and do that every day. Properly run business ops are key to growth, but it’s also key to know what you don’t know, and not waste your energy trying to fake it,” she tells Forbes.com.
There are many ways to get customer feedback. Highly digitized businesses can seek opinions through online surveys or internet and social media posts. An old school solution is adding a suggestions box at the checkout counter. Retailers can utilize the time they save by automating and streamlining their business by getting out from behind the counter and rubbing shoulders with customers.
Get a Clue from Your Customers
Along with seeking a fresh perspective from consultants, it’s a good idea to talk to the people whose opinion of your business means the most – your customers. Over time, retailers become a bit myopic about their stores, seeing them from the single perspective. Getting out from behind the cash register and seeing your business through a customer’s eyes can open your eyes to things that are both good and bad about your operation.
Get Your Hands Dirty
No matter how much you spring clean your business behind the scenes, getting out onto the sales floor or into the stockroom provides a view of how customers see your business. This can lead to everything from simple cleaning to reorganization of stock or departments.
Hardware Retailing has some suggestions on how to shape up your sales floor.
Grab a rag.
It’s spring. Get outside.