Spring is in the air, at least in parts of the world that aren’t southern Manitoba, and everyone is getting their homes and their lives ready for the change in season – but what about your business? Even if you don’t have a store front to wipe down there are still cobwebs lurking under the guise of disorganization and mismanagement of time. Maybe you vowed January 1st to get organized this year, finally, but did you actually do it? Time to tidy up your small or online-based business.
This is the largest detriment to any small business and something that’s very challenging, if not impossible, to perfect. That doesn’t mean there aren’t changes you can make today to manage your personal time better. If you have employees, your inspiration will rub off on them too.
- Set aside blackout times from social media to get work done without distraction.
- Plan social media specific times to market your business effectively.
- Take advantage of a planner or scheduler to keep on top of tasks and easily see what’s coming up in your day to plan better.
- Learn to multi-task effectively – listen to industry specific e-books and podcasts in the car, take care of your social media updates or emails when stuck in a waiting room, use a voice recorder app to take down notes during your morning walk, and so on.
- Invest some initial time in setting up some kind of task management system (I use Trello.) This only works if you use it correctly!
- Focus on each item one at a time instead of jumping between tasks.
- Learn what makes you productive – if you work better at a certain time, strive for that, chew gum, listen to music, sip tea. If it works, make it work!
- Create a music playlist that helps you be more productive, but that’s also ready to go when you sit down to work so you don’t waste time choosing songs.
- Consider using an online or cellphone use time tracking app to figure out where your time is going and decide on ways to correct it – you’d be surprised how much is wasted.
- Before starting a bigger task or project, collect all the information you need and write it down. Accurate notes and documentation keep you organized and save time searching when you come back to it later.
How organized are you files? Is your desktop filled with so many icons you can’t find the thing you just saved? When was the last time you went through your old folders?
- Clean off your desktop and make a commitment to keep it clean.
- Create folders and subfolders to organize your important files.
- For long term storage, choose a solid state hard drive.
- Give your files meaningful names so you can search for them later.
- If you need storage space, zip files you don’t need to access regularly to save on drive space.
- Go through old files and delete things that you don’t need – don’t forget to empty the recycling bin when you’re done.
- Consider using some kind of online cloud storage system like Google Drive (PS, contact us and we can create you a Google Apps account that works with any email address for only $5 per month that includes 30GB of online storage)
- Don’t forget to go through the apps, photos, and contacts on your cellphone to make sure everything is up to date.
- Go through your email lists and contacts to make sure everyone’s info is still correct.
- Update your desktop and phone wallpapers to something cheerful to help you be more content when working.
With so many social media sites and different uses for each, it can be overwhelming to keep track. Are yours up to date?
- Go through each of your social media pages and look at who you’re following or connecting with – are there people who are no longer active? People who don’t align with the brand your creating? Remove anyone who isn’t a positive influence.
- Update your header art and profile picture to reflect the latest image of your branding.
- Make sure all your contact information is accurate and up to date wherever you are connecting with others.
- Make a list of all the social networks you’re using and what kinds of posts are needed to keep them active, then create a social media posts calendar to keep them up to date.
- Look through your old posts and pictures and delete any that do not reflect your company’s branding or image.
Billing and Expenses
If you’re not organized with your billing you could be missing out on income, likewise, late bills incur fees and reflect poorly on your business.
- Create a storage system of all your receipts and documents for income tax purposes.
- Start a spreadsheet to track all expenses and income – don’t forget to include the little things that come up like $5 coffee at a meeting or a $2 app, you need everything to paint an accurate picture of your costs.
- Set up a billing calendar so you know when to invoice your clients or pay your bills.
- Shop around to find the best payment gateway methods for your business with the lowest fees – We use Paypal and Square.
- Create an accurate inventory of all stock or detailed pricing documents of all of your fees – make sure to increase for inflation if you haven’t upped your rates recently.
Websites are often created and neglected, but they’re also usually the first interaction your customer has with you. What are you doing to keep yours up to date?
- Make sure all the copy on the website is still up to date and reflects positively on your brand.
- Confirm all the contact information is accurate and links are in good working order (especially to other sites).
- Test all forms, newsletter sign ups, and any other multimedia on your site to make sure it’s still working.
- If you have a portfolio, does it include all the latest work you’ve done? When was the last time you updated your testimonials? Etc.
- Check to make sure your website is working on newer cellphones and goes responsive on smaller screens.
- Consider an SEO review or total redesign/modernization.
- Check to make sure your social media is still integrated correctly (the companies like to update the code).
- If you have a CMS or other add-ons, make sure everything is updated to the latest version to avoid security risks.
- Update your blog if you have one, and make a blog posting schedule (or hire someone to do it).
Branding and Company Image
Really decide what image you’re putting out with your company – is it the best possible one? Is it unique?
- If you haven’t already, make sure you have a professional logo.
- Make sure all your signage is professional as well. If not, time for an update!
- Update your business cards so they have accurate information, your logo, etc.
- Create an email address for @yourdomain.com so you look more professional – to keep things organized, forward your old addresses to that one.
- If you have a storefront, consider updating your decor or paint to give a more professional and modern appearance.
- Create a marketing plan to target your core audience and set goals for yourself. Look carefully at where to spend your money most effectively.
Other ways to spring clean your business
- If you don’t already have one, create a dedicated work space for your business. If you do have one, make sure it’s clean and tidy.
- Commit to professionalism and dedication – set a dress code for yourself, plan your days to connect with clients more effectively and regularly, set certain work hours, etc.
- Make sure all your equipment and tools are clean and well organized so you can access them when you need it.
- Get out of the house if you’re not motivated, even if you bring your computer to work somewhere different. A change of scenery can really help and you never know who you might meet.
- If you work from home or around your family, make sure they’re all on board with your business and work with them to create success. Learning how to juggle work and family is difficult but not impossible.
- If your current computer or laptop is slow and out of date, consider an update, especially if it’s making you not want to work.
Is your business up to date and ready for spring or will you be trying a few things on this list?