Saturday, May 7, 2011

Now's the time to start a little small business 'spring cleaning'

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A:  Let me take you one better. The weather is improving. People are beginning to feel better about things and get out more. So I say that spring cleaning should be but one step in a bigger plan — it is time to get your business ready for summer. Winter blahs be gone!

Here's how:

Spring cleaning: Spring cleaning can take two forms. There is the traditional spring cleaning. Give the shop or office a once over. Get rid of the clutter, clean out the storage room, and get into the nooks and crannies. Most of us have some old files hanging around that can be moved or tossed. And what about some new paint, or blinds, or even some new furniture?

You, your staff, and your customers will like and notice the difference.

But don't stop there. Consider some spring e-cleaning. Clean out your computer in-box. Delete unused, old e-files. Back up your system or sign up for a monthly backup service if you do not have one. Update necessary software.

I am not suggesting spring cleaning for tidiness sake alone (though my wife would say that is a fine enough reason) but rather, as a smart business practice. The ugly secret of owning a business is that it can become repetitive and stale. Cleaning things out – both literally and metaphorically – can shake things up for the better and create new thoughts and new avenues.

Spruce up your website:  If there is a © 2008 at the bottom of your website, it is time for a little updating, wouldn't you say? We are deep in the Web 2.0 era, meaning, your site needs to have some interactive tools if you want to be taken seriously – a blog, some video, a poll, something. If your site still looks like it looked in 2002, you are missing a significant opportunity to impress people and get some new business.

Check out Craigslist. There are plenty of highly-qualified twenty-somethings with skills who can freshen up your site at very affordable prices.

Planning ahead:  This is also a good time to get ahead of the game a bit. Make a list of projects you would like to get done in the next six months or before the end of the year. Prioritize them. Write them down. List them on the white board. I read that President Obama's political strategy is to "have a long-term strategy and goal in mind, and then work backwards from there." (And say what you will, but anyone who gets elected president knows a thing or two about politics.) That sounds like a pretty good business strategy too.

Planning ahead can also involve planning for some fun this summer. Build in some time off. And while you are at it, consider some fun things you could do with your employees, or some ways to give them a little extra time off during the warmer months.

Try something new:  For many businesses, summer is a slower season. As such, it is a perfect time to try out new ideas that you don't have time for during busier times. For instance, what about making a commitment to experiment with social networking a few hours a week for a few months? Set up a Twitter account and begin to tweet, or create a Facebook fan page.

Or maybe all you need is an iPad, you know, too see how it might fit in to your business, right?

Today's tip:  Are you in retail? If so, then you should pick up a copy of a great new book: The Retail Doctor's Guide to Growing Your Business. In this book, Bob Phibbs, the "Retail Doctor," helps you with any issue your retail business may have – from marketing more effectively, to mark-ups and price points, increasing profit and much more. Steve says check it out!

Ask an Expert appears Mondays. You can e-mail Steve Strauss at: you can click here to see previous columns. Steven D. Strauss is a lawyer, author and speaker who specializes in small business and entrepreneurship. His latest book is The Small Business Bible. You can sign up for his free newsletter, "Small Business Success Secrets!" at his website —

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