Making a go of your small business is all about building a solid set of processes you can rely on to keep the money coming in and make the best use of your limited time. Getting those processes right isn’t a one-shot deal, either — it’s something you’ll have to constantly revisit. The arrival of spring presents a wonderful opportunity to take stock of how far you’ve come and clean house in every aspect of your small business. To make that process smoother, here are six spring cleaning tips you can use to start the year fresh.
6 spring cleaning tips for your small business
Take on one tiny problem first.
Identify a big, hairy mess to tackle over time.
Throw an outsider at your process.
Walk a mile in your customer’s shoes.
Have a chat with the future you.
Create a spring cleaning schedule.
By dusting the cobwebs off your operational processes early, you set yourself up for another successful year with these steps.
In this piece, we’ll break down this simple six-step sequence so you can use to tackle spring cleaning effectively without falling victim to inertia or becoming overwhelmed. Follow the steps in order, and you’ll be looking at a new and improved business. Let’s start with an easy win!
1. Take on one tiny problem first.
Just as with cleaning an actual house, it’s easy to get overwhelmed at the thought of how much work is in front of you if you’ve let things slide.
Start by picking a tiny problem that you’re absolutely certain is self-contained and easy to fix. It could be something as simple as changing a lightbulb or cleaning out your desktop — small, quick tasks are on the agenda here. The point is to get one completed task up on the scoreboard as quickly as possible to confirm to yourself that, yes, you are actually doing this!
2. Identify a big, hairy mess to tackle over time.
Sadly, not all your spring cleaning problems will be small ones. There are bound to be urgent matters to attend to in your business that fill you with dread over their potential complexity.
Again, the key here is to avoid becoming overwhelmed. Your second task is to identify one of the trickier organizational issues you face and consider it in isolation. Rather than panicking about how you’re ever going to approach it, break the task into completable chunks and put them on some sort of schedule. Even the simple act of isolating mini-tasks will make the overall work much less daunting, and you’ll pick up some useful momentum as you blast through each one.
3. Throw an outsider at your processes.
Running a small business requires a certain degree of tunnel vision to stay on top of things. The risk is that it’s genuinely difficult to take a step back and spot potential areas of improvement when you’re busy scrambling to keep the lights on.
Whether it’s bookkeeping chores, fulfilling an order, or dealing with customer support, get an outsider into your business and try and talk them through a task. Simply explaining your approach to common processes out loud is guaranteed to highlight weak points in execution, and the external feedback you get will identify easy wins you might never have thought of alone.
4. Walk a mile in your customer’s shoes.
Our next step is to turn yourself into your own customer for a day. Most of us are so used to looking at our businesses from behind the cash register that we’ve forgotten how things feel for our customers.
Regardless of your industry, map out your typical customer journey and actually take that trip yourself. Walk through the process of purchasing an item or signing up for a new subscription. You’ll inevitably find areas of potential friction or uncertainty that could damage sales and cost you money.
5. Have a chat with the future you.
Our next step might sound a little woo-woo, but it’s a practical mental hack that delivers results. Picture yourself sitting in your office in one year’s time and ask yourself what positive aspects have changed over the last 12 months. For example, how did you set yourself up for the successful year you’ve just had, and what processes and resources did you add or remove?
By mentally working backwards from this happy scenario, you should more clearly see the practical steps required to actually get there. A detailed chat with your future, better self sets you up psychologically for success and provides a roadmap to attain it.
6. Create a spring cleaning schedule.
By this stage, you should have made some serious progress in tidying up your general act. The key now is to put the spring cleaning process itself on some sort of schedule.
Rather than a dimly defined burden that hangs over you each year, spring cleaning should be a predictable event you actively look forward to. The simple act of putting next year’s start date on a calendar will get you ready to rock again when the time is right and will help solidify a very healthy habit for your business.
Every business can benefit from an annual root and branch review of its operations, and there’s no better time than spring to do it. Your reward for getting through another hard winter is the opportunity to fine-tune your processes so you will continue to prosper throughout the coming year.
Let’s briefly recap our six spring cleaning tips:
- Build momentum by chalking up an easy early win.
- Identify a big task and break it into chunks.
- Get some outsider perspective on internal operations.
- Be your own customer for a day to identify areas for improvement.
- Work backwards from projected future success to spot potential obstacles.
- Commit to making thorough spring cleaning an annual event.
Hopefully these spring cleaning tips set you on the right path for success. As you move through these tactics, keep your eyes peeled for more opportunities to further streamline your business processes.
Also published on Medium.