Springtime in Paris might be the stuff of legends, but before you hot-foot off to this (or any other) delicious destination, you might want to take the opportunity to do some spring cleaning — both at home and in your business. But what is spring cleaning, and how does it apply to business? These 4 spring cleaning tips will give you some ideas you can use to boost your company’s performance.
1. Clean Out Your Website
Your website is effectively a virtual storefront, so it makes sense that it requires periodic maintenance. Just as your business premises can use a good office spring cleaning, your website can also use a cleanout. Here are some of the tasks you should do to maintain a healthy business site.
Update Your Content Management System
Web Technology Survey results show that 35.7% of all websites are powered by WordPress. That makes it highly likely that you’re running a site using this popular content management system (CMS); even if you’re using a different platform, we all know updates are critical. If you’re set for auto-updates, it’s all good, but even then it doesn’t hurt to take a peek now and then and make sure there isn’t a major update you’ll need to manually make. If there’s a critical security flaw, the company will usually release a vital update; this might require backing up your website before you update it.
With the cybersecurity risks that small businesses face daily, it’s worth making the effort to ensure you’re running the latest, most secure version.
Remove Old Plug-Ins
There are some very good reasons to remove old plug-ins — additional software that contributes to your site’s functions — that you aren’t using any longer. Most plug-ins add new code, which can slow down your site’s loading speed.
Unused and out-of-date plug-ins increase your risk of intrusion by malware, viruses and bad actors, so if you aren’t using them, it’s best to get rid of them.
Refresh Info and Links
Change is constant, and as a small to midsize business owner, you can’t afford not to have the latest and most relevant information available for customers. Make it a point to carefully reread your website copy and update any wording that no longer applies to your product or service.
Another spring cleaning tip? Check all of your hyperlinks. Outbound links can break anytime the external website makes changes, and those vitally important internal links can easily corrupt. Nothing says “amateur” as loudly as broken links and error messages on your website.
2. Dust Off Your Business Plan
Every business needs to have goals and a road map to follow. Your business plan helps you identify short- and long-term objectives. It also enables you to focus on the steps needed to achieve those objectives. It’s important to revisit your plan often to make sure your business optimization efforts are on track. You might find that your needs, expectations and ambitions have changed since you first created the plan.
Measure Your Performance
Any time you review your business plan, it’s good to check how well you’ve done against your objectives so far. When you initially set your goals, you probably identified some performance metrics to help you determine whether or not you had succeeded.
As part of your spring cleaning exercise, measure your progress toward achieving those goals. Are you moving in the right direction? Do you allocate enough of each day’s time and effort to feeding the goals? What could you be doing differently to realize them faster and achieve business optimization?
Check Your Timeframe
It’s one thing to know how you’re doing in terms of your business plan, but quite another to establish whether you are doing it on schedule. It’s easy to be ambitious in the beginning and set the intention to reach a certain milestone in a specific timeframe. It’s often less easy to actually do it in that timeframe.
When you’re incorporating these spring cleaning tips to optimize your business, evaluate how accurate your projected times were and whether they need revision for the future.
Revise or Reaffirm Your Goals
After you’ve assessed your performance in terms of objectives and timeframes, you’ll be in a good position to revise or reaffirm your main goals. Some objectives might need drastic changes to tie in with new developments in your market, audience or industry. Other goals might just need refreshing and a renewed commitment to achieving them. A new TD Bank survey shows 1 in 5 entrepreneurs use a vision board, so consider trying that option to help you clarify your priorities.
3. Refresh Your Competitive Advantage
Your competitive advantage is what makes your goods or services the best choice for your customers. It’s important to know why clients choose you. Is it because they feel your pricing is better than others, your marketing is more insightful or your service delivery is faster? Whatever the reason, it’s vital to focus on ways to enhance your advantage and maintain it.
Some ways to follow through on this spring cleaning tip include:
Embrace Digital Transformation
Technology is becoming a larger part of the customer experience, and if you aren’t keeping up, you probably aren’t enjoying the same benefits that your competitors are. Take small steps toward using technology that doesn’t require hefty financial investments.
Start by automating something simple, such as your customer relationship management (CRM) efforts. Even if you’ve never done anything more than keep handwritten notes about your clients, one of these CRM programs can help you benefit from digital transformation.
Conduct Competitor Research
Do regular competitor research to find out what other companies in your industry are doing and prevent losing customers to the opposition. After all, what is spring cleaning for if not to get ahead and give yourself a fresh start? You can:
- Sign up for Google alerts about your top competitors so you’re notified if they make an announcement.
- Follow their business LinkedIn pages and Twitter profiles, and those of their top employees.
- Check how well their website is performing, and do a reverse lookup to see which of their keywords are getting traction.
- Use your personal email address to sign up for their newsletters to follow what they are saying to their customers.
Doing ongoing competitor research helps you to learn new ways to serve your customers, spot new opportunities for products, and discover why — and how — other companies are successful.
Analyze Market Share
Think of the market as a pie, and your slice of it is your share of the available business. Outside of your slice is all potential new business for you. One way to grow your company is to increase the number of customers you have. Another method is to raise the value of products and services you sell to them. Both of these relate to your share of the market, so calculate your market share by dividing your business’ sales by the overall industry’s sales. Find out how much opportunity awaits you and develop accurate business plans to secure it.
4. Polish Up Your Pricing
Prices change, and so does value. Products your customers paid premium rates for last year might now be available from other companies for a lower rate, or even for free. If you’re still charging the same prices as before, you could be losing out on business. On the other hand, if you’ve always been at the low end of the market, this might be a good time to play catch-up.
Revisit Your Costs
Just as your business’s prices can change, so can those of your suppliers. If you use any outside vendors for raw materials, services or components, you might have missed a price increase notification in the daily flood of emails. Before you change or affirm your pricing for the year ahead, review the costs of everything you purchase to make sure you’re maximizing your profit.
Revisiting your costs also includes factoring in increases in overheads, such as your toner cartridge costing another $4 a month, or the slightly higher monthly fee your bank introduced at New Year. It might seem insignificant, but these additional charges add up over time. Before you know it, your cost of doing business might be higher than you realize.
Check Your Competitors’ Prices
Even in industries where cost isn’t the main differentiator, it still matters if you charge more than others for the same things. It’s fine if it’s part of your strategy because you provide better service, deliver faster or give value in some other way. However, you need to know what your competitors charge so you can determine whether you’re still giving customers good bang for their buck.
Let spring be the start of a new push to make your business successful. Clear your desktop of clutter and implement these business spring cleaning tips to take you into a great 2020.