Each year, 78% of Americans tackle spring cleaning in their homes. If you’re one of them, chances are you enjoy rolling up your sleeves and using a little elbow grease to freshen up your abode. Not only can the results of this annual ritual leave you feeling less stressed, more at peace and more focused, but it can also give you a big sense of accomplishment.
Did you know that you can do the same thing for your small business – without the mop, bucket and rubber gloves?
Here are seven things you can do as a small business owner to refresh your workplace this spring (or any time of year) without breaking too much of a sweat.
- Your marketing plan. When was the last time you took a hard look at how you’re promoting your business – and the products or services that you offer? It’s important to evaluate what’s working, what isn’t and ask yourself what else you could be doing. Maybe you’re ready to do more on social media to grow your business or it’s time to update your website. Perhaps you’re interested in revising your customer service strategy, running promotions throughout the year or establishing a customer loyalty program. Gather your ideas, make a plan (or update an existing one) and turn those ideas into action.
- Your inbox. If the number of messages in your inbox includes a comma, make it your mission to bring that figure down and get organized. While it may feel overwhelming to start, Fast Company offers a roadmap that can help you clean out your inbox in about an hour:
- Take 10 minutes to clear out the junk. This includes social media notifications, delivery confirmations (for packages you’ve already received), already-perused newsletters and more. Do this en masse if you can.
- Take 20 minutes to create folders and labels. After you purge the junk, you need to organize the messages that you’ve already read – and don’t need to do anything about – but that you want or need to keep. Go with a folder naming system that makes sense to you – and know that you can update this down the road to customize it even more to suit your preferences.
- Take 20 minutes to address those emails that need action. After getting rid of the junk and saving the emails you may need to reference later, it’s time to move on to the messages that you need to act on. Try to follow the two-minute rule: if you can complete the action needed for the email in less than two minutes, go ahead and do it. If you can’t, add it to your to-do list to take care of it later.
- Take 10 minutes to update your settings. Consider creating filters that will sort your incoming messages for you.
- Equipment. Are you saving an old printer because you “might” need it one day? Is there an old broom in the corner clinging to life thanks to a little bit of hope and a whole lot of duct tape? Do you have a drawer of unused – or barely used – USB drives? How many old computer monitors or hard drives are shoved into your storage closet? Clear out any unused, outdated or broken pieces of equipment. If you’re getting rid of items that could potentially contain sensitive information (like said USB drives or hard drives), just make sure that everything is scrubbed and cleared before you purge.
- Digital files and paperwork. Maybe it’s a pile of manila folders sitting in the corner of your office, the filing cabinet you haven’t touched in months or documents on a shared drive in your cloud-based storage platform. Make a commitment to go through all your stacks, folders, cabinets and more. But before you purge, make sure you know which records you are required by law to keep – and for how long.
When you determine which items you can get rid of, make sure you dispose of them properly – especially anything that contains personal information. For any paper documents, the Federal Trade Commission recommends that you either shred, burn or pulverize them. (But don’t get rid of papers that can help you track your small business expenses too quickly!)
- Data security protocols. When was the last time you backed up your data? Do you have established best practices for passwords? As a business owner in an increasingly digital world, you maintain a delicate balance of staying on top of ever-changing tech trends and keeping important business data safe. And it’s more than guarding against user error or equipment failure. It’s also about reducing your risk of data breaches that can occur when personal information like customers’ credit card numbers or employee tax information is compromised. Read 6 Things You Can Do Right Now to Protect Your Business Data to put the right practices in place to keep your business information safe.
- Your business plan. According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), your business plan should be the foundation of your business and guide you through structuring, operating and growing your organization. But how often do you review it? Quarterly? Annually? Why not make spring the time you examine this “roadmap” and determine what comes next. Maybe you’re considering things like opening a new location or adapting to changing customer expectations resulting from the pandemic. They all should be part of your plan. If you don’t have one, now is as good of a time as any to create one. The SBA has templates you can use to craft your own.
- Your business insurance. If you don’t have adequate protection from a business insurance policy, an accident of any kind could be detrimental to the health and well-being of the business you’ve worked so hard to build. So schedule a meeting with your insurance agent to review your policy. Together, you can make sure you have the proper coverage that fits your company’s needs and covers any risks associated with your operations. Find out more about Why You Shouldn’t Cut Corners on Business Insurance.
How to Tackle Your Small-Business Spring Cleaning Projects with Confidence
If you want to take on these projects (or more) but feel overwhelmed, we get it. As a small business owner, the idea of adding several more tasks onto an already overloaded to-do list may seem daunting. But there’s help! Psychology Today offers 10 tips you can follow to tackle your next big project.
- Make a plan. Set your goals, get organized and be extremely specific about how, when and where you will complete your project.
- Commit. You set your goal in your plan. Let others know what you’re trying to achieve, as well. Having some accountability can be a powerful driving force in your work.
- Split it up. Divide your large plan into smaller chunks. This can make it feel less overwhelming and give you the time to complete each task the right way. Plus, achieving small goals can help keep you motivated.
- Make it a habit. Schedule your project tasks in advance so that they become part of your daily – or weekly – routine.
- Start off in your head. By imagining the work you’re going to do via a process called mental simulation, you can get over the procrastination hump and prepare for what lies ahead.
- Make it easy. Rather than finishing one leg of your project because you have to tackle a more challenging task next, try to set yourself up for success by starting your next work session with an easy task. That way, you can ease yourself back into your work – then move on the harder work.
- Stay positive. Staying upbeat can help you be even more productive, which brings you closer and closer to reaching your goals. So celebrate all your wins, even the small ones.
- Reward yourself. A reward for reaching a project milestone can be a great means of positive reinforcement. Bonus points if you can tie your reward back to your work.
- Let others know how you’re doing. Sharing your progress with others can keep you on track to reaching your project goals.
- Give yourself a break if you need it. If you’re feeling stuck, find another unrelated task to do. Switch gears to another project. Take a short walk. It can be re-energizing and even provide some inspiration for when you do come back to it.
Here for Every Step of Your JourneyAs a business owner, the sky’s the limit on where you want to take your business. Whether you’re growing your home business or expanding to a second location, it’s important to make sure you have the right coverage to fit the needs of your business – and your employees. Contact your local Erie Insurance agentand set up a time to discuss your options.
ERIE® insurance products and services are provided by one or more of the following insurers: Erie Insurance Exchange, Erie Insurance Company, Erie Insurance Property & Casualty Company, Flagship City Insurance Company and Erie Family Life Insurance Company (home offices: Erie, Pennsylvania) or Erie Insurance Company of New York (home office: Rochester, New York). The companies within the Erie Insurance Group are not licensed to operate in all states. Refer to the company licensure and states of operation information.
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