Spring is in the air and for many of us, the spring season brings with it the often dreaded task of spring cleaning. For entrepreneurs and business owners, taking the time to physically and mentally get your business organized and de-cluttered is even more important. So, we have asked the CarolRoth.com contributor network of business owners, experts, advisors and entrepreneurs to share their best spring cleaning tips for business. Their answers are presented below in no particular order.
You may notice some similar ideas listed, but I kept them separate, as something in the way one is framed may resonate differently with you.
1. Clean Up Your Digital Space
Don’t ignore your digital space! Decluttering your computer, your inbox, and your business' website is just as important as physical decluttering. File away old emails, delete unused images or other unnecessary content from your website, and check your computer for stray files and folders. Decluttering your digital workspace will put you in a more productive mindframe, make your inbox a little less overwhelming to look at, and motivate you to keep things organized moving forward.
2. Make the Cleaning Process Fun
Our company holds a fun event two times per year in order to thoroughly clean the office. In short, my business partner and I hide $10 gift cards in various locations around the office for employees to find. It's kind of a like a cleaning scavenger hunt if you will. Once an employee finds a gift card, they are responsible for cleaning that area. Overall, it's a fun way to get everybody involved and not make the cleaning process seem like such a chore.
3. Stars and Dogs Report
Spring cleaning is a great time to run a quarterly or annual Stars and Dogs Report on your inventoried products. The report will reveal, based on turn rates and sales volume per SKU, what adjustments you need to make in order quantities. With Stars, products that sell well, make adjustments to increase inventory so they are in stock 100% of the time. With any Dogs, slow or no selling parts, you may want to reduce or even discontinue these products and then, clean them out at clearance pricing.
4. 15-Minute Clean Out
Yes, 15 minutes. We can do anything in 15 minutes, scale the paper mountain, take out the email trash, or uncover your desktop. Yes, it can be done.
When office overwhelm hits after nesting all winter, I commit to cleaning up my office in 15 minute daily blocks. Picking a dedicated time helps. I recommend right before lunch or the last 15 minutes of the day. Setting a timer and working later in the day keeps me from avoiding work all together.
Restored order inspires productivity.
5. Reorganize Your Time
Spring cleaning is a good opportunity to "clean" out your schedule and make sure you're using your time wisely.
This spring, ask yourself: 1) Do you schedule routine meetings (daily, weekly, monthly) that can be replaced with occasional 1-on-1s? 2) Are you doing tasks below your pay grade that you could be delegating? 3) Are you working too many hours?
Use "spring cleaning" to reflect on how you're using your time, so you can allocate it better and reclaim your life outside of work.
6. Watch Out for News Clutter
The news media relies on fear and lack for its survival. Bad news sells and it can also debilitate and distract us from taking care of business. If you fall asleep with the evening TV news, that’s a good place to cut back. Read inspirational books or write in a journal instead. Each time you find yourself confronted with negative news, whether it’s the "if it bleeds, it leads" TV news or the gossip at the water cooler, ask yourself, "Does this serve me?" If the answer is no, walk away.
7. What Do I Want to Accomplish?
When you purposefully answer the question, “What do I want to accomplish?” you position yourself to de-clutter your mind and then, all that follows. Capture one far-reaching specific goal that is forever in your mind. Then, list smaller goals to achieve the larger. Next, eliminate all paperwork and computer files that do not match your vision and are no longer needed. The de-clutter process will help you advance more quickly to achieving what you want to accomplish.
8. Clean Out Your CRM
Perhaps the best "spring cleaning" tip I can give is to clean out your CRM and other customer databases. Businesses let these databases pile up with old leads which are no longer viable. They just clutter up the system and hold the business back from making sales.
Go through your CRM, mailing list, prospect list, etc. and get rid of anyone who hasn't engaged with your business in the past several months. You may want to try to engage them once more, but if they don't respond, clear them out.
9. Kondo and Fredo Can Help
Let Marie Kondo and (Vil)Fredo Pareto help you spring clean your business. 1st, from the Queen of Lean and Clean: Tackle the clutter by category, one at a time. Then, look at everything on shelves & folders and begin to sort. Finally, ask yourself if you really need the business files/supplies/books you've been saving.
From the principled Pareto: Scrutinize everything & eliminate items and clients only contributing 20% to your bottom line. Keep the things & accounts yielding the most benefit.
Thanks to: Marlene Caroselli.
10. Renewed Spring Focus
Step back and get your organization to focus on the important elements of the business. Redefine what is going to make you GREAT. Plan a one-day strategic planning session with the leadership team and stop chasing the last data point.
11. Use Software to Organize...
To me, spring cleaning means finding new ways to get more organized within my business. One thing I have started doing is to document all of my processes and communicate with my team members in a project management software. This makes it very easy to bring on new employees since they can be plugged into my processes and have a manual to follow inside the software. I can also see all of my projects and the stage of completion on each. Taking time to implement this will propel future growth.
12. Pitch IT and Ditch IT
Every spring, we are all about reviewing what we have in our organization as far as IT goes. We go through everything in our drop boxes, in our Google Drive, in our applications folders... if we do not need it, then it is pitch IT and ditch IT. One of the biggest time wasters and consumption of our time and energy is old out-of-date technology; if we have not used IT or will not be using IT, we make sure it is gone, gone, gone.
Chris Carter of Approyo
13. Ditch Toxic Customers
Spring is a great time to clean house of negativity and toxic customers. Many small businesses have dealt with a bad customer or two. But, if you have toxic customers who cost more to service than the profit they contribute to your business, now is the time to clean house and let them go.
Ditch the constant complainers that are never happy.
Toss out the price under cutters and late-payers.
Finally, ditch the customers that you don't look forward to talking to.
It's time to spring forward!
14. Clean Up the "Shoulds"
Get rid of all your "shoulds!"
Make a list of all those business tasks that you've been saying "I should do this" or "I should do that" for months or years and do one of two things with them.
1. Forget about it! If you haven't figured out how to get it done, maybe it doesn't matter.
2. Delegate or outsource it. If it needs to be done, get it done- even if it's not perfect or you have to pay for it.
"Shoulds" make your business messy. Clean them up!
15. That Pile of Business Cards
Everyone has them! A pile, drawer or even a box full of business cards. Why are you keeping them? Because they have useful information, right? Then, put it in a usable format.
First, sort them into piles: Don't remember them (toss those). Need to reconnect (call or email them). And, useful to have, but not sure why yet (save them).
Next, put all but the "toss" into a CRM system that you will access and update; then, get rid of those sloppy piles and boxes.
16. Harvest Low Hanging Fruit
Don’t only focus on your physical space during spring cleaning - clean your workflow processes, as well. Make an inventory of your primary internal processes and procedures, department by department. Then, get all of your managers and lead employees together around your conference table and review them. Where you find redundant redundancies (*snicker*), eliminate them. Where you find low hanging fruit for greater workflow and process efficiencies, harvest them!
17. Sustainable Spring Cleaning
Look through your organization and find ways to reuse, reduce and recycle. For our small business, this means:
1. If you can reduce paper by digitizing, then get scanning.
2. Adding compost, recycle and trash bins in accessible areas.
3. It hasn't been used for 6 months? Recycle, re-purpose or donate it.
4. Give incentives for the process. The more reduced, recycled and reused items per employee, the better.
Spring cleaning is great; it's even better when it's sustainable.
18. People Want What You Don't Use
Spring cleaning started March 1. I’m using a tip I learned last year, when I moved 3000 miles. First, office supplies and old desks/chairs don’t sell at yard sales; however, one group of people, TEACHERS, need them all and then some. Through the BuyNothingProject.org (BNP), I found a teacher. She took it all and planned to leave what she couldn't use in the teachers’ lounge. From her gigantic smile, you would have thought that I had given her solid gold. A big win-win.
19. Audit Your Annual Goals
I review my books annually at the end of March to see if I'm pacing to meet my YTD goals I've set. Is my website bringing in the leads I want? If not, I’ll have a professional brought in to make sure my website is as good as it can be. Am I getting enough referrals from other business owners? If not, there's never a bad time to reach out to businesses with a thank you card and gift certificate for prior referrals. Even if I’m exceeding my goals, there’s always room for more growth.
20. Detox Your Desk and Office
I went in early one weekend morning and took everything off of my desk and what was cluttering up the office.
Then, I went through every paper and put them into 3 piles: Action, Save, Discard.
I then put everything where it is supposed to be and threw away the 40 gallon trash bag full of 'stuff'. The action items were ready to be handled the first thing the next business day.
This took 3 hours and was worth every second.
21. Update Your Customer Lists
When was the last time you checked what customers are still active or even still in your area? It's time to update your customer lists! Utilize the National Change of Address (NCOA) to see what customers are still in your area. You should also check if the email addresses you have are still being used. If customers have moved or have inactive email accounts, it's time to clear them out.
22. Check Your Links
Scan your website for links that are pointing to internal and external pages. Ensure that they're all working and not leading to 404 pages. By going through your site, cleaning up and updating broken links, you'll prevent confusion among your website visitors.
23. It's Time to Improve Yourself
Spring cleaning (and fall) are great bi-annual times to schedule critical assessments of your operations. We tend to think about spring cleaning as the physical cleaning of our office, which it can include, but it should also be much more. Assess your expenses, lead gen channels, social media reach, and so on. It’s also a great time to critique yourself and evaluate ways that you can become a more skilled professional, whether that's through conferences, supplemental education or similar.
24. Keeping It Personal!
Many business people, especially young entrepreneurs, often forget that many business expenses are actually personal expenses (or vice versa). During a "spring cleaning", it is always a good idea to double check and ensure that your team is keeping personal and business expenses clear and separate.
25. Clean Your Inbox
Unsubscribe from all newsletters/emails that you never look at. Turn off alerts from email, social, text messages, etc. to cut down on the clutter and make what’s important standout, such as meeting reminders.
26. Spring Clean Keys
Spring cleaning a business can take on many meanings. Physically removing old product through spring sales, donations or promotions will help you spring clean your business. Here are a few spring clean keys to success:
1. Assess your business: hire a consultant to help you assess your business based on your industry.
2. Remove dead things: dead business ideas, processes, sales pitches, partnerships, and dead practices.
3. Focus on what's emerging: the new growth of your business.
27. Forward Motion
After a long and snowy winter, my body and mind need fresh air. The best way to cleanse body, mind and soul is to plan time outdoors. My personal favorite... hiking! Yep, increasing my heart rate, getting fresh air, and a change of scenery give me a fresh start--mentally and physically.
Colorado, my home, is full of hiking trails. When winter gets too long, I plan a trip to sunny Florida for January or February. Friends and sunshine do the trick.
28. All in, All at Once
This is not my original idea. Because people are less productive when surrounded by clutter, one company ordered in pizza and had an afternoon dedicated just to tidying up and getting rid of things that had accumulated. All in, all at once.
Here's a link to the research:
29. Shred Old Tax Documents
Most business owners will have tax records going back many years, but you don't need to keep anything for more than three years after you filed the original return. Take the time to reduce the clutter and shred those documents. This applies to personal tax paperwork too, unless you claimed a loss from worthless securities or bad debt (then it's 7 years). If you are concerned, you can scan them to PDFs before shredding.
30. Backup Your Files in the Cloud
Backing your digital files up to a cloud service is a great place to start for business spring cleaning. By backing up your documents onto a cloud service, you can delete them off of your desktop and make room for new work. An added benefit of using a cloud service is that you’ll be able to access your documents remotely if you have access to Wifi. Once you have moved the necessary documents from your desktop to the cloud, it will be easier to organize the digital files on your desktop.
31. Digitize Old Documents
If you still have hard copies of old documents lying around, turn those hard copies into digital copies. Living in the digital age means that you should scan all those documents into your computer and shred what you don’t need anymore. Of course, some original, hard copies of documents may need to be held onto. Although you may need to hold on to some documents, if you have a room full of file folders, it’s likely that there are a lot of documents that you only need a digital version of.
32. Clean Your Cloud Files
Spring is a great time to clean your electronic document library used for daily operations. In today's world where tech is integrated into business, most businesses utilize a cloud-based repository that team members frequently touch or add to on a daily basis. Oftentimes, albeit based on good intentions, this collection of documents can snowball into disorganization, as we can fail to remove unneeded or outdated documents. It’s a process to organize it, but it's a noticeable improvement.
33. Clean Your Processes
Many businesses forget that operational processes are often the reason for many pain points. This spring, check your key business processes and try to improve or add to them as needed. Also, try to allocate some time to retrain your staff. Don't be afraid to survey your customers and ask for their feedback, as well!
34. Do Clean - But, Be Organized
Cleaning is mandatory - to remove junk, as well as to declutter yourself, your business and your office.
Having done so on a previous few occasions, I would highly recommend to keep a note of stuff you are junking and/or removing. Also, keep track of the stuff which you are placing at new locations in your office. You are probably used to a mental image of most things, and the new locations may not be easily traceable in the beginning. The tracking, say over a notepad, would remind you.
35. Can You Live Without it?
Worst Case Scenario:
De-clutter all the paper, books, materials and stuff getting in your way. For each item that isn't required to be kept by the IRS, ask yourself "Have I needed this or used it in the last year?" If 'no' then ask "What's the worst thing that can happen if I toss it?"
If you can live with the consequence, out it goes! If not, keep it, but not in your office space. Stuff doesn't hoard itself - we hoard it on purpose, so we can toss it on purpose. Set yourself free!
36. Save Paper & Go Digital!
To keep pace with digital advancements, consider cutting your business’ paper usage where possible & storing documents online.
When you digitize your files, your office has ability to access, edit, sort & share docs from anywhere. Unlike hard copy papers that can be easily damaged or lost, digital files will be stored & saved safely online.
Update your office this spring by cleaning out papers that can be rehoused digitally to save space, trees & peace of mind.
37. Install All Upgrades… Finally
If you’re like me, when an update notification appears on the computer, it’s ignored. I then enter update limbo where I must choose to continue running on old software, while also forced to allow the horrible pop-up to “Remind me again tomorrow”. This cycle repeats itself for weeks until I'm forced to update due to a file crash.
This spring quarter, avoid unnecessary lagging & devote time to computer updates. These installations are quick & will minimize annoying pop-ups & crashes.
38. Revamp Your Newsletter
If your company sends out a newsletter, think about giving it a face lift this spring! If it’s sent via email, add a video section that features new products or customers to hook & engage the interest of your readers. Highlight limited time deals to boost audience excitement & motivation to purchase. Consider offering a discount to those who mention the newsletter and then, post pics of who came in to take advantage of your special.
39. Clean Up Your Social Media!
If your SMB doesn’t have a fire social media account, you’re missing out on sales. Period. This spring, clean-up your social media by cutting out the unoriginal Shutterstock photos, the less-than-compelling-info-graphics and all that other boring stuff and replace it with relevant, fun and interactive content.
40. Change Up the Office Layout!
Work can become so routine, that it often feels like we're in auto pilot at our desks. Smaller offices should think about changing up the office layout once every 6 months to help combat the autonomous office vibes. In a bigger office, maybe change up your personal desk set up. Though these are simple tips, you'd be surprised about the boost in productivity!
41. Have Your Kids Scan Your Files
Do you have lots of paper files cluttering up your office? Now's the time for you to digitize them! Better yet, if you have tech-savvy children, hire them to do this for you. While your business gets a tax deduction for the money you pay them, each child's income is tax-free to him or her up to the 2019 standard deduction of $12,200 — and they can even contribute up to $6,000 to a Roth IRA. Be sure you pay them a realistic wage though; sorry, but scanning documents isn't worth $100 an hour!
42. Disconnect to Connect
"Hibernation", pulling back to engage in self-reflection and "disconnecting" from the chaos of everyday living in order to "connect" and re-energize through daily meditation, with focus on heartful living and increased outdoor activity to minimize anxiety and boost creativity and vitality. Self. Care.
43. Cut Your Unused Subscriptions
Take inventory of the paid tools you use to run your business, particularly monthly subscriptions, and cancel the ones you don't need or rarely use. Don't forget to check your credit card statements and/or PayPal account settings for long-forgotten subscription payments that have gone under the radar for months on end.
44. Have Your Systems Gone Stale?
Spring is a great time to revisit your business systems. A business can change so much from one year to the next and if you are still using the same systems from the previous year, there is a good chance they are not as effective as they could be.
Take this time to work with your team to revisit your standard operating procedures. Is there a new tool or training available that could improve the process and thereby improve the workflow and profitability? Find out and then implement it!
45. Best Spring Cleaning Tip
As a cleaning company, we have set up a couple of rules to not feel overwhelmed. Our best one is to categorize things by priority and give them a color. Big messes get red, messes that are manageable get yellow and things that could be solved rather quickly get green. Categorizing things this way lets you create a plan. If a storage room has built up a lot of clutter, we set up a red sticky note and in our drive, we change the status of that room as red. This way we create a plan of action.
46. Ducts & Filters
Cleaning your air ducts and changing your filters can dramatically improve your indoor air quality. It only takes a few minutes to improve your breathing, improve your quality of sleep, remove allergens from your home or business, and improve your heating and cooling costs.
47. Organize Important Documents
My best spring cleaning tip for business is to get your corporate docs in order. Often times, important documents like articles of incorporation, annual reports, bank documents, and employee-related documents get moved around and cannot be found when necessary. It’s a good idea to get those documents in order every spring. It doesn’t need to be a big task, and can usually be done in a 2-hour afternoon slot. It’s great for peace of mind and also a great way to keep track of these documents.
48. Get a Roof Inspection
Most roof damage happens during the winter and many roofing companies offer free inspections, especially in the spring. Having your roof inspected while you're working on other spring cleaning tasks means you'll catch damage before it becomes a problem, and you'll be able to get a roofer's full attention while seasonal demand is lower.
49. Annual Subscriptions
Most business owners tend to be fairly on top of their monthly business service subscriptions that they pay for; however, annual subscriptions can be harder to stay on top of because you don't see the payments as frequently. So, it's a good idea for business owners to review their annual subscriptions to try and 'spring clean' their outgoing costs.
50. Focus on the Winners
It's crucial to keep track of your products' sales history to clean up the inventory and grow the business. You should periodically check the past orders, then identify the goods that are contributing to more purchases and those not doing well. The goal is to ditch or limit the products that are selling infrequently and not earning you much money, and focus on the winners instead. You need to offer more of the items purchased often by customers, those goods which are significantly adding to your bottom line.
51. Spring Smart Cleaning
My approach to minimizing clutter is simple: ruthlessly purge. Set aside 10-20 mins. at the end of each week to (re)organize, starting with your computer, phone and/or other devices. Delete apps you never or rarely use — or that consume a lot of battery life or storage, which you can check in your settings — then, organize remaining apps and files into clearly-marked folders. Also, consider scanning documents that can be saved electronically in the cloud.
Lucas Lu of 5miles
52. Best Spring Cleaning Tip
As a productivity and small business advisor, my ONE best tip for business spring cleaning is batch working. Batch working means splitting your day into different parts of one topic, instead of working on various tasks alternatively. For example, you can save hours in a week solely by batch working on your social media posts, and then having an entire week of posts planned out. This can go a long way when applied to multiple areas in your business, such as administrative tasks, meetings and more.
53. Dump Digital Clutter
All too often our computer desktop becomes a dumping ground for those of us who manage it all. Start your spring cleaning off right by cleaning your digital desktop of all clutter. Remove unneeded shortcuts, move folders that don't belong there, delete files you no longer need. You'll be surprised how much this will boost your productivity and give you renewed energy to focus on growing your business.
54. Sustainable Artwork Contest
Don’t throw anything out. Instead, call the art department of a local school, tell them you have lots of unused items and encourage them to have an upcycled art competition with unwanted items from your business. This competition will encourage students to be creative and teach them about sustainability. Assign employees to find nearby locations that will accept the leftover excess and have them drop it off.
55. Spring Clean With the 5S Tool
Having a clean and organized workspace makes work more pleasurable! The best tool to make a perfectly organized workspace is none other than the Lean Six Sigma 5S tool.
The 5S tool has its origins as a Japanese method for organizing, with the S standing for Japanese concepts. Luckily, we have English words that also fit nicely.
Do these every day after you finish with your work processes.
56. Preparation is Key
Spring cleaning has already become an expected tradition, a spring event. A crucial part is making sure you've got everything you need to start cleaning, so make a list of everything you'll need prior to starting. That includes everything you'll need for washing and polishing, such as different cleaning agents and disinfectant wipes, rubber gloves, brooms, and mops, as well as dusters and a vacuum cleaner.
57. Changing Office Plant Life
During the spring cleaning process, we usually replace old plants with new plant life to our office. New plants with high growth rates generate much more oxygen and air filtration compared to older plants. Ideal plants for filtering pollutants are mums, peace lilies, and ferns. The EPA has performed studies on indoor air quality. The indoor air can have 100x more pollution when compared to outdoor air.
58. Declutter Non-Ideal Clients!
Clear the clutter by setting boundaries and saying NO to non-ideal clients. If you’ve been kissing frogs lately, it’s time to re-identify your ideal client avatar and stop attracting non-ideal clients. Make a list of clients you’ve absolutely LOVED working with in the past and identify three to five traits they have in common. This will give you a roadmap to the EXACT types of clients you want to work with and cut out the desperation of saying yes to anyone and everyone!
59. Check Your Financials
Now that taxes are done and your prior year's books are completely closed and done (hopefully!), you can now focus on the managerial accounting side of your business. Analyzing your gross margins by business unit and understanding your margin by revenue line item and utilization and profitability by client and employee is crucial. By doing a complete overhaul of your financials and analytics to see where profits are stemming from, you can know focus on how to strengthen them.
60. Where's the Bin?
Get a recycle bin and put it as close to your mailbox as you possibly can. Doesn’t matter if it's a cardboard box, bamboo basket or ceramic flower pot. But, stand in front of it EVERY DAY the MINUTE you get the mail and toss the junk before it even lands on your desk. And then, actually empty the thing when you need to!
61. Your Regular Cleaner Will Know
When looking to Spring Clean your business premises, check with your regular cleaner to see what areas they know need an extra clean. Allow them special time to fix those areas along with a more in depth regular clean and you will have the equivalent of a Spring Clean of your property.
62. Organize Your Digital Space
Keeping a clutter free desk is not enough. You need to take care of your digital space, as well. Take some time to organize your email and unsubscribe from emails you don't ever open. Remove bookmarks that are in your browser for months and you still ignore them. Delete files from your desktop that you no longer need. Organize your files by project, date or whatever works for you. You'll be surprised at how much easier it will be for you to be more productive and efficient.
63. Marie Kondo it
Get ruthless. Clean it up, a la Marie Kondo- from processes to office layout. Question, evaluate, inspect and execute the change.
Spring clean your company's marketing swag: does it stand up to current trends? Is it in line with your target market?
A telltale sign of how relevant your corporate swag may be: Would your employees stand in line to pay for it a la Tesla (who recently offered the company’s merch on sale for employees with lines stretching across the gigafactory floor)?
Vickie MacFadden of PROMOrx