Spring Clean Your Business
Spring is here, the birds are chirping, grass is visible, flowers blooming. It's time to put the screen windows back in, start cleaning up the garage and landscaping, and all that fun stuff. What about your business? Any spring cleaning to do there? If you're anything like the majority of business owners, there's plenty you can do to improve your business, without a lot of effort. Let's take a step back and look at some ideas.
Plan your days in advance
I've long been a proponent of keeping a daily to do list. This helps you keep focused on the stuff you really need to get done. What it doesn't do, is allow for the unexpected projects that pop up during the day. Try planning a few days in advance, or even a month. I have a separate calendar with all of the quarterly, monthly, and weekly recurring tasks I do for clients. This enables me to have a broad view of the month, and spread things out so I can make sure I get them done, while building in time for the unexpected. I do still keep a daily list on paper also, and everything is tracked in Trello, our project management system.
Don't do everything yourself
As an entrepreneur, it's all too easy to try to do everything yourself, for multiple reasons. One, you like to be in control of all aspects of your business. Two, you may think you can't afford to hire someone to handle certain tasks. Hiring others is how your company grows. It doesn't have to be an employee. You can outsource your book keeping, administrative, or marketing activities to people that specialize in it, and save yourself both time and money. For example, if an attorney charges $100 per hour to work on a case, and he can have someone handle his accounting for $100 per month, there is absolutely no reason for him to spend any time on accounting other than an occasional meeting with their accountant to go over the reports.
This is admittedly an ongoing process, but it doesn't hurt to start. We keep a series of checklists for each type of project we take on, and track them in Trello. For example, for a press release, we have a checklist of 12 items. For a new website, we have a list of (currently) 48 steps involved in various checklists, then they go into the SEO/maintenance rotation, which is a whole other series of checklists. We divide up the work according to our strengths, and these systems allow us to be consistent, effective, and efficient in our work. This also will make it easier to expand the company as needed.
Yes, I mean don't check your email 58 times a day. Check it once every couple hours, respond to the things that are urgent, and add other things to your project management system to take care of later. Also, try to minimize the in person distractions. This is one great thing about our office being in a house instead of a retail location. We tend not to have the random walk in traffic. Also, in order to keep us from interrupting each other too often, we use a high tech device known as “headphones”. Yep, that's it. When we have something we really need to concentrate on, we put on a pair of headphones and turn on Spotify or Pandora, and the other person knows this as a signal to “not bother me right now, I'm busy”.
Keep an eye on your expenses
Review your monthly and annual expenses periodically. It's easy to add those little expenses at “only $22 per month”, but that stuff adds up. Also review your insurance policies annually and make sure you have the correct coverage for your business. That could save you a lot of money should you need to actually use it.
Figure out who are your best and worst clients
Work harder for the better ones, define what characteristics make them great, and go find more like them. Fire the bad ones. There's a nice way to do this. Find them someone else who can do for them what you do, and recommend they take their business there, as the other company can handle them better. (Google the 80/20 principle)
Evaluate your employees
Do you have your employees in the positions that offer them the best opportunity to succeed? You may find that an employee that isn't good at sales may be great at doing paperwork, or keeping the warehouse organized. Work with them to figure out their strengths and utilize them to everyone's advantage.
Break your work into smaller chunks
If you have a huge project to work on, you may put it off “until you have the time”. The problem is, you'll never have the time, so you'll never get it done. Take that big project, and divide it into smaller, manageable chunks. These will be easier to check off your list, and you'll feel like you're making more headway sooner. These big projects may be the most profitable, so it makes sense to get them done.
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