After a long winter of rain, snow and big storms, it seems that the weather is finally starting to improve, and with it, people are starting to get outside more. Indeed, one of the first tasks for many folks this time of year is a trip to the store to get some cleaning supplies, storage boxes and plant food, and get on with some much-needed spring cleaning.
Winter doldrums, be gone!
But spring cleaning is not just a good idea for your personal life, it is in fact an equally good idea for your professional life as a small business owner. Cleaning out the cobwebs (both literally and figuratively) can give you, your staff and your business a boost.
Spruce up the place: I am not suggesting spring cleaning for tidiness’ sake alone (though my wife would say that is a fine enough reason) but rather, spring cleaning as a smart business practice. An unpleasant truth of owning a business is that it can become repetitive and stale over time. Giving your business a thorough cleaning can shake things up for the better and open new avenues for new thoughts.
So go ahead and 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 or blinds, or even some new furniture?
You, your employees and, most importantly, your customers will like and notice the difference.
But don't stop there. Consider some spring e-cleaning. Clean out your inbox. Delete unused, old e-files. Back up your system or sign up for a monthly backup service if you don’t already have one. Update necessary software.
Freshen up your website: If there is a © 2002 at the bottom of your website, it’s time for a little updating, wouldn't you say? And, as we are deep in the Web 2.0 era, that means that your site needs to have some interactive tools if you want to be taken seriously— for example a blog, some video, a poll, or the social media channels you use. If your site still looks like it looked in 2002, you are missing a significant opportunity to impress people and get some new business.
Plan ahead: Spring is also a good time to get ahead of projects. Make a list of the ones you would like to get done in the next six months or before the end of the year. Prioritize them. Write them down. Put them on the white board. I recently read about the planning strategy of one very successful executive, and it’s to ‘have a long-term strategy and goal in mind, and then work backwards from there.’
Planning ahead can also involve thinking ahead to summer. Make sure you build in some time off, and while you’re at it, consider some fun things you could do with your employees in the summer, or some ways to give them a little extra time off during the warmer months.
Try something new: 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, or create a Facebook fan page if you don’t have one. Maybe even create a savings plan so that you can get that new iPad for your business that you've been putting off.
Get some help: Finally, don’t hesitate to ask for help around spring-cleaning time— after all, sometimes it can be a heavy lift. A part-time assistant or an intern can lighten the load, as can outsourcing projects and tasks that can be better done by experts. Find ways to free up your time, so that you can spend more of it on those business-related tasks that you want to do, rather than those you have to do.
How have you tackled spring cleaning for your business in the past? Share your stories and advice below.
About Steve Strauss
Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. 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. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss