March 16, 2019 06:54 PM
Tidying up may feel like a chore, but having a neat and orderly business can be great for profits — and peace of mind.
Spring cleaning doesn't just mean sweeping and dusting. It is also a good time to purge old data, audit your business and hold employee reviews. (Photo: Nelosa/Shutterstock)
by Meg C. Hall
Springtime is here: the weather is warming, flowers are blooming and everything is fresh and new. It’s also a great time to knock of the dust and get rid of the clutter collected over the past year with some much needed spring-cleaning action. Use this checklist as a guide to freshen up your small business, both inside and out, and set yourself up for a productive and profitable year.
“I always found springtime, which also coincidentally is tax season, to be a good time of year to review business processes — just to know what’s working, what isn’t working, what needs to be abandoned, and what needs to be changed,” said Dock David Treece, business analyst for FitSmallBusiness.com.
If it’s been a while since you’ve done an audit of your small business’ operations, take time this spring to review your internal workflows, assess your processes and procedures, streamline safety practices and other key policies and identify areas where you can cut costs and minimize waste.
“There is such a thing as spending too much time getting wrapped up in minutia rather than focusing on building your business,” he continued. “When you can find a way to cut out unnecessary headaches or daily tasks, it frees up a lot of time to go build the business.”
Spring cleaning presents a great opportunity to get rid of remaining clearance items and reorganize your stockroom. Host a warehouse sale to clear out excess inventory, and review your purchasing practices against sales data to make sure you aren’t buying more than you can sell. Anything that doesn’t get sold could always be donated to a charity for a tax write-off.
Refresh the interior and exterior of your store to motivate both customers and employees. (Photo: LightField Studios/Shutterstock)
Apply a fresh coat of paint, clean your windows, refresh exterior signage and update your landscaping this spring to make your business have irresistible curb appeal for passersby. Inside, look for any dings in the walls that should be patched, get your carpets professionally cleaned, dust your vents, freshen up your break room and replace old light bulbs and outdated signage.
“Maintaining a business that has a professional veneer is a good move for anyone, regardless of industry — not just because you want to have a professional face for clients when they come into your office or your shop, but because it motivates employees,” said Treece. “It’s hard to convince employees that they need to act professionally and put on a professional face for clients if everyday they’re trudging past holes in the walls or threadbare carpet.”
It’s important to re-evaluate your different vendors periodically to make sure you’re getting the maximum value for your dollar. Shop around or see if you can renegotiate a deal with your existing providers, suggested Treece.
“You may already be with the right vendor but not have the right product that they offer. Sometimes just changing the offering within the company can be incredibly beneficial,” he explained.
With news of cyberattacks surfacing on a daily basis, now is also a good time to update all of your passwords. But don’t just add a new number to the end of your old login code, advised Jerry Irvine, CIO of Prescient Solutions.
“Employees should be required to use complex passwords of at least 10 characters with upper and lowercase and special characters. If possible, the organization should require multiple form-factor authentication such as a biometric and pin or password,” he advised.
Get rid of any former employee records or data you no longer need. Treece said a good rule of thumb is to keep records for seven years, but always check with your attorney or small business accountant in case your industry has any additional requirements. And while you’re at it, make sure your current employee files are up to date.
“In the same way that you want to know if there are certain segments of your operation that are adding more value, spring is a great time of year to look at your payroll and evaluate who’s adding value and who isn’t,” said Treece. “That’s not to say you need to ‘clean house,’ but sometimes someone is simply in the wrong position and their role needs to change to unlock their potential.”
If you want your business to be successful, your own mental and physical well-being must also be a priority. Take time to get some fresh air and enjoy the warm weather to recharge your spirits after the long, cold winter. Think of how you’re spending your free time and look for new hobbies or books to read that can improve your business — and yourself.