Make a Lean, Clean Business Machine

The Pace of Business
April 17, 2012
To Do or Do To Do, That is the Brand Question.
May 2, 2012

Ah, the flowers are blooming, the grass is growing and the birds are chirping. It is definitely spring. It’s time for baseball, strolls in the park and of course, spring cleaning. For some, the idea of spring cleaning is about as appealing as getting a tooth pulled. Others love the process of clearing the decks and getting everything spic and span. Whether you love it or hate it, doing a deep, thorough cleaning once in a while is a necessary and important process for both your home and your business.

One of the reasons people resist any kind of cleaning process is because it requires assessing where they currently are. Whatever choices you have made up to that point are reflected in your environment. If the shop has been carefully watched and managed, the cleaning process will be fairly easy with a simple tweak here and there. If overwhelm or complacency has sneaked in over time, the job will be much harder. You suddenly find yourself face to face with the results of your choices and sometimes that can be quite unpleasant. Perhaps you have slacked off in your marketing efforts and your client stream has dried up. As uncomfortable as this realization can be, however, it affords you the opportunity to course correct and get your business pointed in the right direction again.

Even for those who have been doing a good job of managing their business over time, spring cleaning can be challenging. The difficulty does not usually come from doing the manual labor. Ok, so it may not be the most fun to wash windows or to clean up files, but that’s not really so hard. What is more challenging is making the decisions required to turn your business into a lean, clean, money-making machine. You need to ask yourself things like “What is working well right now? What do I need to change? Which systems or services need to be updated or replaced?” Pondering these kinds of questions takes more brain power than sweeping the floor, but taking the time to thoughtfully answer them will clear the path for your business to really grow.

If the idea of undertaking a spring cleaning project seems overwhelming, here are a few tips to help you get started.

1. Concentrate on one area of your business at a time. Don’t try to tackle your accounting system, website updates, and social media strategy all at once. Instead, choose one area at a time and thoroughly address each issue that needs your attention until you feel you have a workable solution.

2. Set specific limits. I’ve addressed interval training in previous posts and it applies here as well. It is very difficult to work at a steady pace for long stretches of time and stay effective. It’s much better to set your timer and work intensely for specific spurts of time. Try doing 20-45 minutes of intense work and then take a short break. Another option is to choose one question to work on for a specific amount time. Do not move on to the next question until you feel you have a good answer to the first one. Having too many questions floating around in your mind can muddle the process and slow you down.

3. Give yourself small rewards. When you do accomplish your task, even if it’s a small one, give yourself some kind of reward. This could be 10 minutes of internet surfing or going for a walk around the block. It doesn’t have to be complicated, just some incentive to keep you motivated. The harder or more tedious the task, the more significant or meaningful the reward should be.

4. Think about how good you will feel afterwards. There are days you just don’t feel like doing the work. At those times it can be helpful to concentrate on just how good you will feel when you get the job done. As long as the big, harry task is looming over you, you will feel dread and a sense of heaviness. Once you clean your space be it physical or mental, you will feel much lighter and ready to move forward.

5. Remind yourself about the financial rewards of an efficient, focused business. This is a biggie. When you have a clean slate and a clear direction, your business can move like a well-oiled machine. Your systems flow better. You have more energy and your mind has the space it needs to be creative. As a result, you waste less time and money and you start attracting and creating new opportunities for yourself.

Cleaning may not be your favorite activity, but the payoffs can certainly be worth the effort. Imagine waking up to a streamlined, clean, efficient business. We reap what we sow. Look around at all the flowers blooming now. Many of those are a result of effort put in months ago. A plan was in place for their arrival and now that day has come. The plans you lay now will also bloom if you do the work, till the soil and clear a path. Happy cleaning!