As the weather breaks and nature begins the renewal process, so can we. In fact we’re almost naturally programmed to want to shed the old, clear the cobwebs and begin anew come April. We’re optimistic, ready to try new things. Anything is possible. We dig into spring cleaning with a vengeance.
Small business owners are no different. Even though January signals the fresh start of a new year, the start of the year’s second quarter brings with it a different kind of opportunity. It’s the time of the year to fertilize and prune to spur new business growth—sharpening your business ideas, reorganizing your business or marketing your business in different ways.
With one quarter down and three to go, there’s time to adjust and fine-tune where necessary. This kind of ‘spring cleaning’ requires putting the three R’s to work:
Reflect. Refresh. Reset.
- Reflect. As a small business owner, you have a sense of what’s working well and what could be better. Small business owners actually become quite adept at running an ongoing mental audit of everything going on around them. So for spring cleaning, focus in on those things that will give you the biggest wins and increase your odds of success over the next three quarters.
- Refresh. This could be completely revamping your billing process. Or it could mean a fresh coat of paint. But before you tackle the overhauls and/or tweaking, identify what is stale. Does something need to go altogether or simply be re-launched?
- Reset. The reset button is far from imaginary and can be the small business owner’s best friend. Once you’ve made the assessments and identify changes you need to make, put them in place and push reset. It can be the beginning of a whole new ballgame.
But spring cleaning can take on a life of its own. Have you ever begun cleaning out just one closet to suddenly find yourself moving on to the kitchen cabinets? And excited to do it? Same goes for small business owners. Shedding the old or outdated or no-longer-useful can bring such a sense of accomplishment that we just want to keep going. But don’t get carried away. The best fine-tuning is done judiciously, with care.
So if you’re not sure where to start, take some advice from others who’ve been there. There are some areas where many, if not most, small businesses could use some spring cleaning.
- Technology. This one hits home for a lot of us! Experts suggest that cleaning up and organizing your technology is like cleaning your windows, in that it fundamentally affects how you see and interact with the world. Here’s a must-do technology checklist for spring—simple yet crucial tasks for your security, backup and even your printer.
- Financial Clutter. Contracts, invoices, receivables, that financial checkup with your CPA you’ve been putting off – this is the kind of stuff that’s been in the back of your mind for how long? It can really wear on you, even if you’re not consciously aware of it. Bringing everything current may take a little time. But get the ball rolling and establish a timetable for having it all done. Just doing that will give you a boost and free up some mental energy for meatier tasks.
- Physical clutter. Apparently physical clutter becomes mental clutter that, whether we know it or not, prevents us from being as sharp and fresh as we could be. Take a Saturday, if necessary, to clean out and organize your office! If you’ve been feeling some Monday dread creeping in, this probably was a contributor.
- Ideas. The dawn of spring tends to elicit new ideas and fresh thinking. Certified life coach Jeanette Eleff suggests that spring is the perfect time to help this process along by doing a SWOT analysis. SWOT is a form of strategic planning that you can use to evaluate the strengths, weaknesses (limitations), opportunities and threats of/facing your business. Eleff says that SWOT is an energizing, fun, creative, eye-opening and productive way to get a fresh perspective on anything from Where can I improve my leadership style? to What will it take to make this project successful?
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