When you think of Spring cleaning, what may come to mind is straightening out your files, cleaning up your desk, and washing down desktops and equipment. But this time of year is ideal to apply the same cleanup thinking to the big view of your business.
5 ideas to consider for the big picture view:
1. Reexamine your goals
One of my favorite quotes from Antoine de Saint-Exupery (author of The Little Prince) is “A goal without planning is just a wish”. But you need to start with a goal. Throughout the pandemic, many small business owners were in crisis mode, finding ways to merely survive. Those who did now need to look ahead and set new goals. Some ideas:
- Short-term goals. What do you want to accomplish within the next 6 to 12 months? nTask has a list of short-term goals (check numbers 28 through 37 for short-term business goals) which includes incorporating SMART goals: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. The goals listed here may give you some ideas.
- Long-term goals. Where do you see your business in 2 years? Five years? Are you planning on expansion? Do you envision franchising your business. Are you thinking about selling the company. Setting long-term goals will dictate the direction you move in.
2. Review your business plan
Now that you have new goals in place, check your existing business plan to see whether it supports your new game plan. You probably need to make adjustments, especially in light of current economic winds…inflation, supply chain disruptions, and workforce shortages.
Your new business plan can be a simple list of goals and the actions you expect to take in order to achieve them. Or you may want a more formal business plan Bplans offers 500+ free sample business plans that you can use for guidance on crafting your own blueprint for action.
Reviewing a business plan isn’t just a Spring cleaning activity. It’s something you should do regularly (e.g., monthly) to be sure you’re on track and to make changes when needed.
3. Look over your customer list
See whether you need to expand your list (something you probably should continually do). Or you might want to weed out customers or clients who you no longer wish to service. Remember the 80-20 rule (the Pareto Principle) when it comes to customers: 80% of your revenue probably comes from 20% of your customers. This means you likely spend too much time and effort on a number of customers who don’t generate sufficient revenue for you.
Work on customer retention for your “good customers,” including heightened communication, loyalty programs, rewards for referrals, and special services and/or pricing. “Fire” customers who you may have outgrown (or they’ve outgrown you) as well as those who are too much trouble to continue working with.
4. Update your marketing
Your website, your social media messaging, and your entire marketing approach may benefit from some Spring cleaning. Assess what is and is not working for you. Determine how much you should invest in upgrading your marketing activities now.
For example, perhaps it’s time to make your website ADA compliant, which is something we’re in the process of doing. Use a free tool called Web Accessibility to test your site. Inc.com offers a number of ideas on how to become ADA compliant.
5. Get a grip on finances
In this era of rising interest rates and inflation, be sure your profit and loss projections still ring true. You may need to increase your prices and/or reduce your expenses just to maintain your old profit margin.
Be sure you continue to monitor cash flow so you can pay your bills on time. This will minimize the need to tap into a line of credit, which has an interest rate sure to rise over the near term. And if you don’t have a line of credit in place but your operations are sound, it may be a good time to get one. Like Mark Twain said, “A banker is a fellow who lends you his umbrella when the sun is shining, but wants it back the minute it begins to rain.” Get the line of credit set up before it rains.
Australian-American professional organizer and author Peter Walsh says: “Spring cleaning doesn’t have to be a dreaded list of chores. It can be a rewarding experience that helps you provide some structure and organization in your life.” And I’d add…in your business.