Spring has sprung, and spring cleaning is on the agenda. But have you ever considered spring cleaning your small business? Today we’re going to talk about a few ways you can do just that – freshen up your workspace and re-energize your brand for the coming year.
Our human inclinations turn to renewal in springtime. “Out with the old and in with the new” might be a platitude, but why shouldn’t that extend to our small businesses, too? From airing out our workspaces to purging the clutter, spring is a time of beginnings, and we’ve got some fresh ideas to breathe some life and new efficiencies into your daily routine.
Five ways to spring clean your business
The spring-cleaning process is both cathartic and informative. Not only does it free your mind, allowing creative thoughts to emerge, but it also illuminates outdated workflows and systems, showing you what processes need reinvention.
Here are five actionable small business spring-cleaning tips you can start on today.
1. Declutter your workspace
The physical workspace has a big impact on your state of mind while you’re working. If you’re surrounded by clutter, papers, or anything else that tends to pile up on your desk, your brain simply won’t fire on all cylinders. Not sure if this applies to you? Here are a few clues:
- Do you have to move things around on your desk before you can get down to work?
- Do you feel overwhelmed by all the things you need to do?
- Is the sight of your desk enough to send your blood pressure into orbit?
If you answered “yes” to any (or all) of those statements, you have a clutter problem. Too much clutter equals chaos, which resonates from the physical to the emotional. Studies on the impact of clutter show it has a massive effect on one’s mental health, overall wellbeing, habits, and behaviors.
For example, clutter can increase procrastination. If your desk is piled with books, receipts, invoices, and paperwork, it’s a chore to sift through it all to find what you need eyes on. So, you’ll tend to avoid the task. It’s unpleasant, and the issues compound when bills aren’t paid on time or deadlines are missed.
According to a study published in Current Psychology, frustration with clutter increases with age. The study also found that clutter was associated with a significant increase in cortisol (the stress hormone) in women.
But when clutter extends beyond the office—for instance, if your public-facing spaces are in a state of disarray—it sends the wrong signals to your customers. They might think you’re disorganized and lack attention to detail.
But where to start?
We have a free mini-course that covers how to make your workspace happier and more productive. Here are a few other tips on how to declutter your workspace.
- Organize based on priority. Keep things for immediate use within reach and put everything else away.
- Keep items where they’re handy to the task at hand. Coffee supplies go by the coffee station, pens next to the computer, phone, POS, etc.
- Invest in a cable organizing system to keep your cables tidy and out of the way.
- Go paperless: Digitize all receipts, invoices, and postal mail. Once you digitize, you’ll have a searchable archive of all your important stuff, which leads us to the next tip.
- Purchase a recycle bin and a shredder, and use them judiciously.
Going paperless will cut a significant amount of clutter, and it might help you get paid faster, too.
2. Freshen up your brand and social media accounts
Could your brand use a little spring cleaning? There’s no time like springtime to check in on your digital properties to see what needs a bit of dusting off.
Start by looking at the brand itself. Some things may have changed over the past year. Does your current branding and brand message still resonate with your audience? Are you happy with its performance? If the answer is “no,” or if there was any hesitation when answering, you might be due for at least a partial rebrand. It might be as simple as a new business website design or revamping your logo.
Your social accounts might need a little spring-cleaning love as well. Update your profiles, add new images, get new headshots, and explore different ways to share content. If you aren’t yet using Instagram Reels and Stories, you might be missing out on engagement opportunities. There are tons of new apps, design resources, and marketing strategies you can leverage to supercharge your presence and ignite interest.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Evaluate your brand strategy to get a baseline. Have your priorities changed? How can you change your messaging to reflect your new direction?
- Drill down on your analytics to gauge performance across all your platforms. Which channels are delivering? Which ones are underperforming?
- Hone in on your target market. Your audit should illuminate patterns you can leverage to develop new personas, which will inform and improve marketing.
- Research what your competitors are doing. How are they winning? How can you differentiate from them?
- Have a look at your blog. Is the information up-to-date? Does your content strategy align with your business model today?
Beyond marketing, it’s vital to stay connected to your customers’ wants and needs. Think about ways in which you can improve your website’s user experience.
For example, you might consider adding self-serve options on your website so customers can have more control over their accounts. Or perhaps add some third-party apps to offer convenience to your customers, like automated invoicing and payments or an integrated app for shipping and tracking. Third-party apps help you and your customers by cutting down on admin time, and allowing you to focus more on running and growing your business.
3. Deep clean and organize your books
Keeping your business’s books clean is a great way to gain some peace of mind, especially with tax time just around the corner. Plus, it’s impossible to achieve any predictive insight into future business growth without accurate numbers. If expansion is on the agenda, you’ll need to tackle this sooner than later.
Any financial aspect of your business, including vendor relationships and service agreements, should be included in your audit, as they could make or break your bottom line.
Review all service agreements to ensure you’re not paying for services and features you don’t use. Shop around a bit; compare the rates you’re paying to other vendors. Perhaps you can negotiate a better rate plan or find a more competitive vendor who’s keen to work with you. Spend a little time finding out what you’re actually paying for, and you’ll undoubtedly be rewarded in cost savings.
Look at ways you can improve your accounting workflows. Automating repetitive processes, like invoicing, accounts receivable, and daily bookkeeping reduces errors and lets you focus on higher-value tasks. For example, if you’re an Invoice2go, a Bill.com company, subscriber, you can set up recurring invoices, collect payments online, and manage customer relationships in one place.
Going paperless is another way to clean up your books. We talked about this a little earlier in the article (see tip #1), but it bears repeating.
Digitizing your books eliminates paper workflows. As a result, you’ll have fewer errors and less backtracking. If you need to find a transaction, invoice, receipt, or anything else related to your company’s finances, it’s stored securely in a cloud and fully searchable. You’ll be able to work from anywhere, collaborate with staff or your accountant even when they’re working remotely, and never miss a beat.
Already paperless? Here are a few quick tips to get the cleaning party started:
- Go through your accounts. Close or archive any that you don’t use.
- Review your expenses in detail to see where you can cut.
- Look at your loans and lines of credit. Can you refinance to get a better rate? What accounts can you pay off?
- Analyze last year’s budget. Did you stay on track? Adjust as needed.
- Review your accounting system’s security. Is your data protected to the full extent it requires? Periodic reviews of your data security are essential to reduce risk and ensure compliance.
4. Refresh your customer relationships
Inarguably, the most important contributors to your company’s success are its customers. If you haven’t reviewed your customer relationships in a while, spring is the perfect time to do so.
You’ll need to consider various aspects of your customer relationships, including sales history, loyalty, profitability, and overall cost.
Some customers are more profitable than others because they’re loyal and open to upsells and cross-sells. These accounts may be your bread and butter, but don’t ignore the ones that have cooled. You need to communicate with both groups, but your approach will be slightly different in each case.
- Reach out to customers you haven’t heard from in a while. Offer something valuable, whether it’s content (like a tip sheet) or incentives to purchase again.
- Personalize your communication. Personalization increases the likelihood of a response.
- Send out a survey. Asking your customers what they think is a great way to engage, and you might get some great ideas.
- Implement a loyalty program. Your program could offer points towards future purchases, premiums, or whatever makes sense to your business model.
- Upgrade your loyalty to customers. Offer your best clients special pricing, bigger incentives, or exclusive offers they’ll love.
Know your customers as a business owner
Knowing your customers and understanding their motivations are essential to providing the best possible customer service. As such, it’s necessary to review your business plan and audience periodically to see if your marketing is sending the right message.
Your primary audience might be well-established, but perhaps you’ve picked up a new “hidden” audience your messaging doesn’t consider. If you’re overlooking a customer segment already engaged with your business, think of what you could accomplish if you did consider them and their unique attributes.
The pandemic changed buying behaviors quite a lot, so it’s worth a deep dive into your customer list to see if your messaging is still on track.
5. Update your tools and business goals
Springtime is a great chance to refresh, rework, and improve or eliminate processes that no longer serve you. Modernizing your business with new software, computers, and workflows is a great way to clean the slate and move forward with new and improved focus. It’s also a great time to update your business plan.
Here are a few ideas:
- Switch to remote or flexible work. If you have employees, think about what you’d need to provide them to facilitate working remotely. Collaborative tools like G-Suite or Microsoft 365 support teams and productivity apps like Slack, Evernote, Trello, or Invoice2go Projects help keep priorities aligned and projects moving forward. Identify the tools that work best for you, and work with your employees and contractors to design a tech stack that works for you.
- Revamp your office space. Is your physical workspace holding you back? Poorly designed offices get in the way of productivity, and if you haven’t updated your layout or décor in a while, there’s no time like the present. Think about the tech you use every day. Does your workspace design accommodate your workflows? Are there enough electrical outlets and adequate light? Do you have any furniture blocking traffic areas or impeding natural light? How’s your air quality? An office redesign is also a good opportunity to declutter. Built-in shelving or cabinetry allows you to get organized.
- Invest in new tools. Review the latest tools and software for your industry. If you’re still using legacy software systems, chances are you’ll need to replace them soon, and the longer you wait, the greater the risk of a data breach or catastrophic software crash. Upgrading to subscription-based software offers many advantages. You’ll have access to state-of-the-art tech, next-generation data security, and automatic updates, ensuring you’re always on the cutting edge. Plus, having all the latest tools gives you a competitive advantage, perhaps one you can leverage through a carefully-crafted marketing strategy.
Spring cleaning for small business owners shouldn’t be overwhelming! For more tips and advice, check out our small business community.