Spring Has Sprung: Small Business Spring Cleaning
Spring represents growth and new beginnings. People get excited to leave the snow and bitter cold of winter behind, and gear up for warmer days, fresh flowers, and the delightful sounds of birds chirping. Because of the energy that accompanies spring, it’s the perfect time to focus on some cleaning and freshening up your small business.
We live in a fast-moving, digital world and it’s really easy to let ‘digital cleaning’ tasks slip through the cracks. What do we mean by digital cleaning? Do you ever struggle to find a file in your email, or have several versions of the same file saved in your folders? Digital cleaning can help you simplify and streamline your digital storage systems. Some common digital cleaning tasks include:
- Organizing your desktop. How frequently do you save a document to your desktop for easy access and then forget about it? While it’s convenient to grab certain documents in a pinch, they rarely make it to a dedicated home and instead just become an icon that will sit cluttering up your desktop forever. Spend some time going through everything and try to find a proper home for it, which ties into our next point.
- Clean up, or create, digital folders. If you’re part of the group that somehow puts everything directly in a folder, we are impressed. But when was the last time you went through your folders and saw what was hiding in there? Similar to desktop clutter, it’s easy for documents to get stored in folders and forgotten about. Try to find a new organization system. If you’re sharing folders with others, agree on some rules to keep everything organized and stored in the proper places so you can easily find documents when you need them.
- Tidy Up Your Files. If you’re constantly making changes to a document or collaborating with someone else and passing edits back and forth, you may want to keep track of multiple drafts to track all the edits that were made (pst, if you’re using Microsoft Word and you’re not using Track Changes, use Track Changes! It makes edits easy to spot). Keeping these multiple drafts isn’t necessarily a bad thing in case you want to go back and refer to an earlier version, but make sure you save them to a folder out of the way so they don’t clutter up your final files. Or, move your files onto Sharepoint or Google Docs, where they keep track of your document’s version history, so you don’t have to keep saving as “File_Draft1”, “File_Draft2”.
- Don’t forget to back up. Whether you are backing documents up to the cloud, or an external hard drive, you should probably be backing up more than you are. Data Recovery Labs recommend that essential documents get backed up at least once a week. Since this is a step that many forget to do, try to set a calendar reminder or write it down on a sticky note to try and back up files at the same time weekly.
- Tackle your inbox. When running a business, you likely have a ton of emails hitting your inbox every day. Because you’re moving quickly throughout the day, there’s a good chance your inbox is full of a bunch of things you don’t need, or something important may be hidden because you have so many emails. Try to create some folders to store emails, either based on who sent them, or if it’s related to a specific project and then delete what you don’t need.
Tidy Up Your Finances
The color green is usually synonymous with growth, whether you’re referring to spring grass or tracking the success of your small business. All small business owners strive to be in the green. Because cash flow is a significant concern among small business owners, it’s a good idea to check in on your finances frequently. Since it’s relatively early in the new year, now is a good time to check-in and see if you’re on track with any goals you set for yourself for the new year. Additionally, tax season falls in the middle of spring. Whether you’re getting ready to file, need to file a tax extension, or want to get a head start on preparing for next year, this is the perfect time to get finances in order. If you’ve been looking for a little extra help with this area, you can consider it reaching out to an accountant or bookkeeper to get some help and have their guidance for the rest of the year.
Freshen Up Your Team
Given the theme of new life surrounding spring, this could be a great time to build your team. In line with evaluating your goals, think about what type of position you need to hire for. With spring comes the time that most businesses are starting thinking about hiring seasonal employees for summer or bringing on summer interns. If you just need some extra help for a little while, it might be worth looking into hiring independent contractors to work on specific projects.
A spring cleaning article wouldn’t be complete without mentioning literally cleaning your business. Whether you work from home or have a physical location, this is a great time to re-focus your goals and start fresh. The winter months tend to be accompanied by illnesses, so you’ll likely want to do a deep clean to make sure there are no lingering germs hiding. All of this cleaning may help if you’re a seasonal allergy sufferer as well. Even if you’re working out of a home office, take a few minutes to clean your computer and accessories – they build up more germs than you think— pay special attention to anything you frequently touch or hold against your face, such as your phone or headset. If cleaning is not your strength and you don’t know where to begin, Martha Stewart has put together a helpful spring cleaning checklist.
All of the above tips above are good to incorporate throughout the year, but the timing just feels right to do a deep clean at the beginning of spring. When your business is fresh and clean, as well as all of the tools you use to run it, it can give new life to your business and put you in the right mindset to lead your small business to success.