Written by Mark Williams
The weather’s getting warmer and spring is well and truly in the air. It’s a time when many people like to do some spring-cleaning (a winter’s-end tradition that’s existed for thousands of years). It involves cleaning from room to room, top to bottom, of course, and it can transform living spaces, which can leave us feeling happier and healthier.
A similar approach can be taken to your business. Not just physically cleaning it, but improving, updating, de-cluttering and binning things you no longer need. Even small changes can make a big a difference. Spring-cleaning can re-energise us and make us more productive, which can boost your business’s bottom line. So, if you want to spring-clean your small business, how do you go about it?
1 Stock and materials
Obvious place to start – right? As well as gathering dust and taking up space, unsold stock ties up capital. So, why not hold a spring sale? You could offer heavily discounted prices or bundle together difficult-to-shift items with better sellers. Alternatively, you might be able to sell excess stock via marketplace websites such as eBay or Amazon. Another option might be to sell surplus stock or unwanted materials to other businesses. Although, you’ll only get a relatively low price, you’ll still be freeing space and cash.
2 Equipment and IT
If you have unused computers or printers that are just gathering dust and can’t sell them, take them to the tip with the rest of the junk (destroy any sensitive data first). You might also have other machinery or equipment you can sell for cash or get rid of to free up space. Also thoroughly clean the equipment and tech you’re keeping and neatly tidy away any cables. You can spring-clean your IT system, too, by deleting software or data you no longer need, while uploading software updates to boost efficiency and security. You might need to get outside help, but the investment can prove worthwhile.
3 Business premises
Once you’ve cleared space, it’s time for you and your people to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty by dusting, wiping, vacuuming and mopping your premises throughout. Maybe have a day when this is the only work that gets done. It can be a fun experience that helps to bring people together.
De-cluttering your business can also bring great benefits. De-clutter all workplaces and workspaces and pay particular attention to desktops, shelves and other flat surfaces. You may want to de-clutter your home, too (if you’ve got any energy left). Yours might be a home-based business. If you don’t use it – move it or chuck it. Shred and recycle any paperwork you no longer need.
Once immaculately clean and clutter-free throughout, better organise the space to create a more efficient and productive working environment. Budget permitting, why not add a lick of paint here and there? Or some new floor coverings or furniture, as well as new wall art and productivity-boosting office greenery (but not too much, remember, you’ve just de-cluttered)?
4 Products, services and customers
Maybe it’s also time to de-clutter your products or services? You may be able to improve some, while others might simply have had their time. If no one’s buying any products or services, stop selling them and introduce new ones, guided by knowledge your customers and competitors. A customer database can be a potent marketing tool, but only if the information is accurate and up to date. So, if relevant, clean your customer database, updating names and addresses, while removing those unlikely to buy from you. Create a plan to target new customers.
5 Brand, marketing and website
Your brand might urgently require a spring-clean. Perhaps it’s become a tad tired, scruffy or moribund? Your brand is what comes to mind when people think of your business. It’s not just your branding or “brand identity” (ie logo, typefaces, colours), important as these are, but also what you stand for – your brand values. Do those need spring-cleaning?
Your website is key to marketing your products and services, maybe more than you know. Updating your website regularly is essential, never mind an annual spring-clean. Does any information need deleting, updating or copy rewriting? Could you add better customer testimonials? Could you choose better website images?
Could your website be better optimised for search engines? Are all the links still working? Could adding a blog or video content attract more visitors and keep them onsite for longer? Is it time to consign your current less-than-impressive website to the dustbin and create a new and vastly improved version? Also reconsider all other ways you market your business, from signage, leaflets and any adverts to social media. What could and should you be doing better?
Mark Williams is a freelance editorial consultant, editor, journalist and SME content specialist with more than 25 years’ experience. He has written for The Guardian, numerous leading brands and award-winning magazines and websites. Visit www.markiwilliams.com