Spring cleaning: Spring cleaning in winter is often a good idea. This can really take two forms. Of course there is the traditional spring clean-up. Give the shop or office a once over. Get rid of the clutter, clean out the storage room, and get into the nooks and crannies. Most of us have some old files hanging around that can be moved or tossed. And what about some new paint, blinds, or even some new furniture?
You, your staff, and your customers will like and notice the difference.
But don’t stop there. Consider some spring e-cleaning. Clean out your computer inbox. Delete unused, old e-files. Back up your system or sign up for a regular, online backup service if you do not have one. Update necessary software. Get some new software and apps.
I am not suggesting cleaning up for tidiness sake alone (though my wife would say that is a fine enough reason) but rather, as a smart business practice. The ugly secret of owning a business is that it can become repetitive and stale. Cleaning things out – both literally and metaphorically –can shake things up for the better and create new thoughts and new avenues.
Spruce up your website: If there is a © 2008 at the bottom of your website, it is time for a little updating, wouldn’t you say? We are deep in the Web 2.0 era, meaning your site needs to have some interactive tools if you want to be taken seriously – a blog, some video, a poll, something. If your site still looks like it did back in the day, you are missing a significant opportunity to impress people and get some new business.
So start by checking out Craigslist. There are plenty of highly-qualified twenty-somethings with mad skills who can freshen up your site at very affordable prices. Create some new content and have that whiz kid add it in.
Plan ahead: This is also a good time to get ahead of the game a bit. Make a list of projects you would like to get done in the next six months or a year. Prioritize them. Write them down. List them on the white board. I read today that President Obama’s political strategy is to “have a long-term strategy and goal in mind, and then work backwards from there.” That sounds like a pretty good business strategy too.
Planning ahead can also involve planning for some fun. Build in some time off. And while you are at it, consider some fun things you could do with your employees, or some ways to give them a little extra time off during the warmer months.
Try something new: For many businesses, winter is a slower season. As such, it is a perfect time to try out some new ideas that you don’t have time for during busier seasons. For instance, what about making a commitment to experiment with social networking a few hours a week for a few months? Set up a Twitter account and begin to tweet, create a Facebook fan page or set up Google+.
A new year means new opportunities and challenges. So make sure you are ready. What are your plans for 2012? Share your thoughts with the SBOC community.
About Steve Strauss
Steve Strauss is one of the world’s leading small business experts. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. Steve is also the author of the Small Business Bible and his latest book is Get Your Business Funded: Creative Methods for Getting the Money You Need. A popular media guest, Steve is a regular contributor to ABC News Now and frequently appears on television and radio. His business, The Strauss Group, creates unique, actionable, entertaining, and informative multi-media small business content.