Eight Spring Cleaning Ideas for Your Business
Don’t ask me why, but my seven year-old daughter is obsessed with the cheesy early 1990’s goodness that is Full House. Nick at Nite has scheduled a two-hour block of Danny Tanner, Uncle Jesse, Joey and the Tanner girls from 7-9 p.m. most weeknights, and my daughter begs to watch at least one episode every night before she goes to bed.
Because there are much worse things she could be asking to watch, we typically oblige. As such, over the past year or two I’ve endured more than my fair share of Full House catchphrases (think: “Have mercy!” “How rude!” and “You got it dude!”). Let’s just say that when Nick at Nite (or my daughter) moves on from Full House I won’t exactly be sad. Anyway, in a recent episode that I’m sure probably originally aired in March 1990, the notoriously tidy and meticulously organized Danny Tanner exclaims: “I love this time of year! First, spring cleaning – and now tax season!”
This got me thinking, while most of us do participate in spring cleaning for our homes, garages, and backyards, the concept of spring cleaning, with the feeling of renewal that it brings, is probably also a good idea in our businesses. With that thought in mind, here are eight spring cleaning ideas to give your business a bit of a fresh start:
1) Revisit your Business Plan. If you’re like most small business owners, you’ve probably changed and adapted your business plan over the years to adjust to unexpected challenges and market changes – maybe to the point that you don’t feel like your original plan is even all that useful. Instead of discarding it, you should think about taking some time to revisit it – maybe each spring – to update it based on what’s changed, and to evaluate if some changes may not have been necessary. Going back to the basic foundation you built your business on will always be beneficial.
2) Clean-Up Your Company Records and Documents. Have you been maintaining your entities (LLCs, S-corps, IRA/LLCs) by completing minutes annually? Have you had any changes to the entities? Make sure your company documents are up to date. Also, what about the state? Are your state renewals up to date? If the legal foundation of the company is a mess it only gets more difficult to clean-up and address later.
3) Think about your Long-Term Goals. While you’re taking a look at your business plan, think about your long-term goals, both for the company and for your own professional life. You might find that what you really want is different than what it once was. Maybe your concept of how your business should look five years down the road has completely changed. It’s absolutely fine for your goals to change – but you have to be aware of what has changed and what you will have to do differently to get there. If you determine that your aspirations are the same, then check in on your progress towards achieving them. What could you be doing more or less of? Are you gearing as many parts of your day – and your business practices – into moving in that direction, into attaining those goals?
4) Take a Look at Staffing. Spring is a great time to do employee evaluations and reward those who deserve it for their hard work – and trim what doesn’t seem to fit. It’s most effective to sit down with your management team first and discuss your employees’ objectives, strengths and weaknesses. Then, take the time with each individual employee to go over their measurable results. Always remember to ask for employee feedback about your management style, as well as those of your managers.
5) Spruce up your Web Presence. In most lines of business, an up-to-date and useful website is necessary for attracting and retaining customers. Potential customers and clients expect a smooth user experience that incorporates the latest Internet trends and styles. If your website looks like something cobbled together in the era when we were all waiting for the dial up to connect so the AOL voice could tell us “You’ve got mail!” then customers probably won’t stick around long enough to find out how great you are. Consider including marketing content on your website such as blog articles, white papers and videos. In addition, everyday it becomes more important for your business to be active and engaged on social media. Your website should include links to your social media channels, and those channels should be updated frequently with useful and (if at all possible) entertaining information. In many cases, your online presence is the only tool new customers and clients will use learn about you, and it’s important that you make a good first impression.
6) Lock Down your Intellectual Property. Has your business progressed to the point where the name of your business or of a particular product or service has enough value that you want to make sure no one else can use it? If so, you should think seriously about filing for a registered trademark. Similarly, if you want to keep copycats from stealing online, recorded or printed content, filing for registered copyright protection may also make sense. Finally, you should examine your policies and procedures to make sure trade secrets (like customer lists, manuals, databases, etc.) remain, you know, secret.
7) Actually Deep Clean the Office. Seriously, when is the last time anyone vacuumed behind that filing cabinet?!
8) Dissolve and Shut-Down Entities You No Longer Use. Do you have entities that no longer have business activity or assets in them? Are you paying fees to keep them open? Consider shutting them down if you have no future plans for their use. Keep in mind, that the liability protection of an entity still protects you for acts that occurred when the entity was in existence and in good standing.
Hopefully, these ideas can serve as a jumping off point for how to renew and refresh your business and take it to the next level!