It doesn’t need to be spring for a business spring clean

13th January, 2015

It’s time to shake out the dust and to brush away the cobwebs!

Originally referring to the annual undertaking of physically cleaning a dwelling from top to bottom, the phrase “spring clean” has more lately been used to describe the process of getting one’s house in order in the business world.

A forward-looking small business should carry out a regular spring clean to clear away legacy issues and obsolete matters and allow you to focus on the future in a more structured manner.

Physically cleaning your office or premises may be a wonderful starting point, of course! But here are five other areas of your business that might benefit from a spring clean.

1. The laptop cleanse

For most small business owners and the self-employed, the laptop or PC has become an integral tool of the trade, and it should be treated as such.

Delete unnecessary or superseded files from your hard drive, and put in place a plan to archive key documents appropriately. Critical data should be backed up securely or saved to a cloud drive – DropBox and Google Drive can help with this.

In order that your laptop or PC may continue to function smoothly, run any mandatory software updates and action a disk defrag if appropriate.

Finally, clean up your email inbox and your electronic calendar so that you are absolutely clear about what you are supposed to be doing and when!

For some more information, Microsoft have a nice guide for optimising Windows 7 performance.

2. The accounting detox

Show me a thriving and profitable business, and you will most likely be showing me a venture with regularly reconciled accounts! A full spring clean of your accounting and administrative records should be carried out periodically.

Review your aged debtors or receivables listing, and determine what action needs to be taken with regards to overdue balances — should they be chased, factored or written off? Is your credit policy working effectively, or does it need to be remodelled?

A fair-minded business owner or self-employed person should also review their aged payables listings and purchase invoice files, and resolve to tidy up any outstanding issues with creditors.

In respect of the year ahead, review your direct debits, paid subscriptions and recurring charges. Are you securing the most advantageous deals for all essential fixed and recurring costs? Can better rates or terms be negotiated? Might some subscriptions be dated, and, if so, should they be renewed or cancelled?

3. The stock and fixed assets evaluation

Proceeding down the business balance sheet, review your inventories for obsolete, damaged or slow-moving stock, and take action accordingly.

If you operate in a services business, consider your fixed assets, such as IT and other equipment.

Are all assets working to their optimum capacity or capability, or do impaired or broken assets require repair or servicing? Determine to dispose of items that are not functioning properly or are surplus to requirements (while simultaneously taking up valuable space).

Remember that it is imperative to perform all required safety checks on premises, equipment or machinery.

4. The marketing and planning refresh

Update your business marketing material and jettison materials that are now obsolete, such as outdated business cards or letterheads that are no longer used.

Are your business testimonials still relevant, or do they need to be revised or reconditioned?

Ensure that your social media biographies and online marketing strategies are both complete and current. Do you have a coherent business plan, and have you set goals for the year ahead?

5. The staff boost

The success of a business is often really about the calibre and the effectiveness of its people, and duly motivated staff members tend to garner the greatest job satisfaction and perform accordingly.

Undertake staff appraisals or performance reviews and set appropriate career plans. Are you meeting staff training requirements for your industry, for health and safety compliance, and, importantly, for staff development purposes? And make sure you approach staff appraisals the right way!

To complete the spring clean, ensure that all password or premises access has been curtailed for departed staff.

Out with the old and in with the new!

An effective spring clean will purge matters or items that are no longer of relevance to your business in order that you can operate more effectively and with greater focus going forward.

As with most business strategies, you may need to prioritise, so consider which areas of your business are the least efficient or are the most time consuming, and whether you can carry out a spring clean thereof so that your business can be more streamlined for the year ahead.

OK, brooms at the ready? Then let’s get sweeping!