We’re on the back end of winter, and many across the country are looking forward to the warmer temperatures and sunshine that come with spring. However, there is one chore that often comes with the new season that many aren’t always so excited about. I’m talking of course about spring cleaning.
Regardless of your feelings on spring cleaning, what many don’t realize is that taking part in doing so should go beyond the home. For small business owners, spring is an ideal time to make some changes around the company.
Here are 10 ways business owners can apply the spring cleaning concept to their company.
1. Clean Up Your Website
If a small business’s website is due for an upgrade, spring is a great time to dig in. It doesn’t have to be a complete overhaul, and sometimes just some tidying up is all that’s needed. This can mean reworking the way information is presented to make it easier for Web users to digest, or aiming for a cleaner design. Pamela Springer talks about this in her piece for American Express’ Open Forum.
“Because more people browse the Internet these days before buying, it’s crucial that your website’s user-interface be friendly and easy to navigate,” she says. “Avoid providing all the information about your company—such as hours, offerings and location—on the homepage. Instead, list topics that link to different pages. When you’re updating information on the Web, make sure your network is also aware of the changes, since online connections can often help small businesses generate referrals and leads.”
2. Consider the Cloud
Some small business owners may still be wondering, “What is the cloud?” Or perhaps they just haven’t had the time to analyze the different ways it may benefit their business. The flexibility cloud technology provides alone is worth exploring, Andre Lavoie writes for Entrepreneur.com.
“One of the most alluring benefits of cloud computing is being able to access work-related files and information from any device in any place at any time,” Lavoie explains. “We live in a mobile world. Long gone are the days where files are stuck on a single server on a single computer. As the workplace begins to cater to more remote workers and flexible working arrangements, being able to access work materials, when not at work, is essential for employees. Not only does cloud computing make it easier for employees to work outside of the office, it makes it easier for small-business owners to manage their business at any time of day, from anywhere.”
3. Get Mobile
A simple website doesn’t cut it in today’s Internet-obsessed environment. Mobile sites should make it easier for people to view content from their phone or tablet, and mobile sites are arguably more important these days than desktop versions. Mobile has the potential to lead to additional revenue opportunities, which is why incorporating a responsive site for your business is so crucial. Rieva Lesonsky discusses this in a story for Small Biz Daily, which includes a 2014 study that shows mobile technology’s impact on businesses today.
“If your business is not mobile-friendly, you are likely losing revenue opportunities,” she says. “According to new research from hibu, SMBs that don’t accept mobile payments could be losing out on as much as $1 trillion in annual revenues. The study highlights the paradox of small business and mobile technology: While the SMB owners themselves predict mobile sales will grow an astounding 630 percent this year, 91 percent of them don’t have mobile-optimized websites. What’s worse is only 15 percent plan to upgrade and optimize their sites, which is a prescription for failure.”
4. Upgrade Technology
If budgets allows for it, spring can be a good time to purchase equipment that improves a business’s processes and workflows. Sheen Chen talks about the impact this can have in an article for Business 2 Community, noting that these purchases are often eliminated during leaner times and can ultimately hold a business back in the long term.
“For your business spring cleaning, you should replace malfunctioning computers, monitors and other defective hardware,” Chen explains. “Having malfunctioning equipment can easily disrupt business productivity by potentially breaking at a critical time (e.g. POS system malfunctioning) and causing your small business to lose sales. If you have held back on regularly updating your software, your system may be susceptible to viruses, therefore immobilizing your business.”
5. Inventory Assessment
Just as spring is a great time for homeowners to take on that long-delayed garage project or closet cleanup effort, so too can small business owners with inventory. Set aside the time to examine what’s on hand and what should be cleared out, Madie Hodges explains in her piece for Kabbage.com.
“Spring is a great time to go through your entire inventory and get rid of damaged, aged, or expired products,” Hodges writes. “You are taking this time to make your business a better place, and your product or service is the bread and butter of your company. So taking this time to improve the options your customers have can really make a huge difference in your sales. This is also a great opportunity for you to look into new types of vendors and products. Spring is the best time to expand because it’s the start of a new, high volume-selling season!”
6. Clean Out that Inbox
When emails go unread and begin to pile up, it can become a legitimate nuisance that damages your ability to be productive. A lot of it may be junk mail that just needs to be deleted, but it’s also possible that you’re missing important information in an email buried deep in that unread pile. Springer addresses some other problems of this in her American Express piece.
“It’s no surprise that you feel bombarded by quirky spam, given that an estimated 247 million emails are sent every day, according to Email Marketing Report,” she says. “If it’s difficult to decide what’s trash and what’s treasure, it’s time for a deep-clean of your inbox. This doesn’t mean sacrificing your weekend to delete junk mail; instead, take 15 to 20 minutes at the end of each day to sort emails into appropriate folders. Most email providers offer support for automating cleanup, through use of tools including searches, labels and filters.”
7. Consider Security Measures
Hackers are constantly lurking on the Internet for people and businesses to take advantage of, so it’s a smart call to analyze your company’s security measures. Lesonsky examines this for Small Biz Daily, saying that small businesses are often easy targets for these destructive individuals do to the oversight of implementing strong security protocols.
“What do attackers want from companies as small as yours?” she asks. “Think about the valuable information you have, particularly customer lists, contact information and credit card or other sensitive data. And while the payoff is likely bigger when they attack bigger businesses, the fact is it’s easier to hack into businesses like yours, since you’ve very likely not kept your cybersecurity up to date. You need to make sure you install the latest security patches and updates as soon as they become available to keep attackers from breaking into your system.”
8. Evaluate and Acknowledge Good Work
Spring brings with it a sense of renewed energy and intentions of improvement. This doesn’t just apply to business owners but to their employees as well, making spring a perfect opportunity to encourage their good work. As Hodges writes, springtime can be the right time for employers to evaluate their employees overall performance, and to reward them for all their hard work during the often stressful holiday season.
“Go through and do employee evaluations and reward those who deserve it for their hard work, and trim what doesn’t seem to fit,” she says. “Now is also the best time to adjust your budgets and find out where you can add bonuses to your payroll. The most effective way to handle employee evaluations is to sit down with your management team first and discuss your employees’ objectives. Then sit down with each individual employee and go over their measurable results. Remember to always ask for their feedback about your management styles.”
9. Get Social
In addition to a cleaner website and effective mobile capabilities, social media presence has become a must for modern businesses in today’s world. The ability to connect and engage with consumers helps increase awareness of your business, which can translate to revenue gains from attracting new customers. Chen talks about this in his Business 2 Community story.
“When used appropriately, social media can be a great platform to attract new business,” he writes. “Depending on your business, you’ll need to find the appropriate social media platform to engage your customers. You can also help spruce up your company’s image by adding a blog to your website and keeping your customers informed and improving your website’s SEO.”
10. Literal Spring Cleaning
Yes, taking the time to literally get into taking care of things that need some serious cleaning can be a worthwhile exercise around the office. This can apply to the overall cleanliness your equipment and the office, Lesonsky suggests in Small Biz Daily.
“Your hardware and peripherals are likely much dirtier than you think. Take some time to clean your keyboards (use compressed air), monitor screens and check the batteries in your mouse or wireless keyboards. Check your printer as well. Do all the parts move smoothly? Are you up-to-date on manufacturers’ updates? Is the printer free of paper bits? Make sure you have extra cartridges on hand, so you’re never caught short without ink.”