Spring Cleaning Your Business 

By Sherry Lutz Herrington 

When was the last time you deep cleaned your business?  I mean from top to bottom.  Everything from the old dusty filing cabinets full of paper that you’ve been meaning to digitize, to the back closet full of old supplies.  If you’re a service business, not a physical entity, then maybe it’s your digital record keeping, your systems and procedures that are long overdue for a good cleaning. 

Whatever business you’re in, since it’s spring, it seems an opportune time for some cleaning. 

Shake out the rugs, air the cushions, sweep the dust bunnies out of the corners, metaphorically speaking. 

Depending on your business, spring cleaning could look like a lot of different things.  Start by taking a full assessment of how your company is working and where the bottlenecks are to get an idea of what needs to be addressed.  Step back if you can and try to get a bird’s eye view of everything.  As a leader, it’s easy to get down in the weeds and forget about the big picture.  This is your chance to look at your business with a wider lens. 

Try to see your business as if you were a complete stranger walking into your business for the first time.  What would they see?  Again, if you exist in a physical space this will be different than if you’re a remote company.   

Let’s start with a brick-and-mortar company.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a manufacturer, a restaurant or something in between.  You still have a presentation to consider.   

What would someone walking into your building for the first time see? 

What first impression does your company make? 

Is it clean and fresh feeling?  Is it esthetically pleasing? 

If you can, do your assessment when no one is there so there are fewer distractions, and you don’t get interrupted.  Maybe the paint’s getting a little dingy, or everyone’s desk is overflowing with messes, or the floor’s a little sticky.  Take an inventory of what needs to be cleaned up.  Start a to do list. 

Then take a stroll deeper into the business, whether that’s a back office, storeroom, or the kitchen.  Again, look as if you are a stranger entering for the first time.   

What do you see? 

Can you easily get where you need to go or have the aisles slowly been filled? 

Are things disorganized and making it impossible to find what you need? 

Do you have backstock that’s so outdated it’s unusable? 

Take it all in and make a list of what needs to change or be cleaned up.   

Now let’s look at a digital company or a small one-person operation that doesn’t have physical space.  This also applies to the brick-and-mortar business because everyone has record keeping and systems they can review. Begin by taking a step back from your position and look at the entire business.  

Who is doing what and how are they doing it? 

Do you have a company-wide system for how to do everything? 

If so, is everyone doing things the same way? 

The same functions should be done the same way no matter who is doing them.  If everyone is doing things differently, you’re running with semi-organized chaos. 

Look at your tech stack, has it gotten out of hand?  If you have too many different tools, likely some will overlap, and you can trim it down to the most essential ones. Examine the role of each one and if they no longer serve a purpose, eliminate. If they overlap with another, eliminate.  

If you need to understand what each person is doing, then take a survey or send out an evaluation form for everyone to complete.  You need to get a good understanding of all the various pieces and how they fit together.  You may have redundancies in what people are doing and not even realize it.  Also, look at your procedures.   

Do you have them in place for everything you do?  If not, you need to get them established so everyone is doing things the same way.  

Are they written down or recorded on video so anyone can easily reference them?   

This is especially critical when you bring on new people or move people to new positions.  Don’t wait until it’s time to do one of those things, get the procedures standardized and recorded now so you’ll have them when you need them.  This is also a great way to eliminate inefficiencies if not everyone is following the same procedures.   

Set up teams to establish standardizations if you have overlaps, duplications, or differences that need to be sorted out and eliminated. 

Once you’ve done your full assessment, then it’s time to create a to-do list and assign duties. 

Some you may need to outsource.  Perhaps it’s time to get an exterminator in to get rid of those pesky mice or bugs that you’ve been tolerating.  Maybe you need to bring in a painting crew or a handyperson to do repairs. 

If you are overwhelmed with your systems, then you might need an outside expert who can help evaluate what you need and help you implement the recommendations.   

I realize doing all this while keeping your business running is a lot, however, doing it will help your business in immeasurable ways.  We don’t always recognize that the energy we’re working in is dragging us down.   

Messes, both physical and digital, wear on us and make our jobs harder. When things are neat, clean, and organized, it lifts our spirits, makes our jobs easier and generally helps influence everyone in a positive way. 

Same goes for digital records, internal systems, standardized procedures, and streamlined efficiencies.  We deal with what we’re used to and don’t always recognize what a slog things have become.   

Taking the time to spring clean your business, top to bottom, will bring a freshness to your physical space, your digital space, and your energy.  You’ll feel better and your staff will have renewed enthusiasm.  It’s an investment in time and energy to do a deep clean, but it will pay off in a big way so figure out how to work it in around the other things that never stop.  It might not all get done at once, or maybe you need to take a day when you’re closed to bring in an outside crew, but taking the time to step back, evaluate, plan, and implement a deep cleaning will bring a spring freshness to your business that you won’t regret. 

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