After a long, and in some parts of the country an especially hard, winter, the arrival of spring is a good time to clean up and clear out the clutter that may be costing your small business precious dollars.

Office/Retail Space

For owners of a professional practice, nothing quite gives off the same negative first impression as an unkempt or dismal waiting room or reception area. Those far out-of date magazines scattered around on the tables and those dying plants withering away in the corners not so subtly speak to a lack of attention to detail and suggest that you might neglect them just as you do your waiting room. So, take the time this spring to purge or update those magazine subscriptions and refresh any industry reference material lying about and don't wait when it comes to either resuscitating or replacing dying plants with something more cheerful and alive.

Small business retailers could take advantage of the warmer weather to refreshen their store shelves and do a reassessment of product stock. Take a hard look at poor-selling items and consider ways to rekindle their prospects through tactics like in-store advertising or a reshuffling of product displays. And if the recent recession hasn't let you think about it for a while, now might be a good time to finally relook at your pricing structure.

In addition, it's a good idea to extend this spring-cleaning policy beyond the waiting room and sales floor into your employee workspaces and common areas, even though it's less visible to clients or customers. That dirty, unwashed coffee pot, now in its fourth month without a good cleaning, is no doubt starting to rub some employees the wrong way and make them wonder if anyone at your office cares about the little things anymore. And that office fridge, with its freezer section now sealed over with so much ice that no one can use it, is probably another good candidate overdue for some TLC. You might even consider bringing in a cleaning service to mop the floors and thoroughly disinfect your business from front door to back office to get rid of any unsightly leftover winter muck as well as cut down on possible employee absences due to sickness.

Desk Files/Documents

With the arrival of spring, the 2009 tax season finally comes to a close, so now is the perfect time to declutter your desk by organizing and then archiving all those receipts and tax forms from last year. If you haven't already, you can also start new 2010 tax folders and calendars. For self-employed entrepreneurs, this step is especially important, as it will help to ensure you don't miss any quarterly tax payments going forward through the rest of the year.

While you're at it, take an aggressive stance toward saving, filing, or ditching the rest of the paper accumulating on your desktop, walls, and bookshelves. New business cards and contact information should be saved electronically and then either filed or thrown away. Likewise, if your bookshelves are slowly turning into a repository of old office supply catalogs and vendor pricing lists, those old versions should be purged to prevent outdated prices or obsolete product codes from accidentally throwing your cash flow or inventory suddenly out of whack. All those 2009 wall calendars, out-of-date inter-office memos, and Post-It note reminders for conference calls that long ago took place should come down. And while you're scrubbing your office for relevance, now is a good time to make sure you have posted the most up-to-date state and federal workplace notifications regarding disability, worker's compensation and the like.

If you're the type of small business owner who can't seem to throw anything away or doesn't know how to start to tackle the mess that is your desk, you might check out this website for some tips:


The same approach that you use toward cleaning up and clearing out your small business's physical spaces should also be applied to its virtual ones. Start with your email inbox, which is all too often bulging at the seams with old, unnecessary correspondence or, worse, spam, all of which makes finding the really important emails that much harder. Once that's taken care of, fix your attention on your computer's hard drive. To identify the critical areas that need immediate attention, you might try a free online audit of your computer or network's performance to assess its current processing performance and check for holes in your digital security. (Try websites like,, and

If your hard drive doesn't pass these tests with flying colors, you might consider trying some internal maintenance options to rejuvenate it before you run out and purchase a new computer. Uninstalling extraneous or unused programs and purging the cache files for your Internet browser can often help to unlock a balky hard drive's performance, as can reordering all the data on your computer's hard drive through a process called defragging. (You can find free online programs for these three tasks at,, and This level of computer maintenance might seem tedious, but it's actually quite simple-even for non-tech geeks-and is well worth the time investment as it can prevent an unexpected catastrophe later. Consider it akin to the semi-annual changing of the batteries in your business's smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.


Even if your small business is more bricks rather than clicks and mortar, you musn't forget to bring a digital broom to your company website. A good place to start your spring cleaning is on your home page. First, ensure you've updated your copyright dates and contact information. From there, you should navigate to your "About" page and double-check the accuracy of the information listed. This is especially important if you post a company organizational chart or staff directory online, as personnel changes are bound to happen over the course of a normal year, let alone one as chaotic as the past 12 months have been.

Once you have the basics up to date, it's time to declutter the rest of your website. To do this, it's a good idea to click through and look out at every single page-and every part of every page-on your website. Be on the lookout for things like old product photos or service offerings, expired discounts, obsolete prices, or seasonal shipping policies that may still be hiding out in the corner of your website, confusing consumers and clients. It's imperative you rid your website of these pronto as nothing frustrates a potential online customer-and leads them to abandon a sale mid-purchase-like an inconsistent or incomplete buying experience.

Then, after you feel you've fully spruced your own website, look outward. Do all the external links listed on your website still work? Do you need to drop some current links and add new ones to accommodate the changes and/or growth of your small business in the past year? And finally, if you haven't yet, now might be a good time to upgrade your website's functionality and social media stickiness by weaving in -either your own or others-Twitter feeds, Facebook pages, and LinkedIn profiles.

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