Spring is finally here! I had gotten into such a habit of extreme bundling up this winter that I almost feel naked going outside without my face mask on. Seriously.
Since my January article about using “when-then” statements to achieve goals, I’ve done all right going outside for a walk every day.
I did not make it out every day. But my success rate was much higher than previous winters, and I’m going into spring in better physical shape than normal.
In fact, I’ve got enough energy to do some spring cleaning, and have been using some of the best odor eliminator cleaning products.
Just like our shelves, cabinets and closets, our businesses get filled up with clutter over time.
Too many products or services, too many networking events, a hodgepodge of social media posts, a confusing assortment of fees, and we end up with major business dust bunnies.
- Those business dust bunnies can be insidious…
- They clog up your creative channel…
- They slow down your productivity…
- They make you feel sluggish and uninspired…
- They can even make you question what you’re doing in business at all.
If only we could turn on some magical business vacuum that would suck out everything we don’t need in our businesses.
Sorting through what is and isn’t working can be daunting. How do find time to do this kind of spring cleaning when we’re busy launching, promoting and selling?
Let me interject here that I do not enjoy decluttering or organizing. At all.
Well, I do enjoy alphabetizing books and CDs. But when it comes to dumping everything out in the middle of the floor, sorting what to keep and what to toss, then finding new homes for everything, I’m tempted to let the clutter build up until I can’t walk through it anymore.
Unfortunately—and opportunistically—that’s how it can end up feeling in your business. When we avoid decluttering our businesses, we end up feeling stuck and confused: stuck in a dip of no growth and confused about what to do about it.
In that dip of no growth, we may think it’s time to add a new product or service, or rebrand, or share a new photo on Instagram.
When I get to that point of scrambling for a way out of the dip, I think about Stephen Covey’s lesson about sharpening the saw. He said that taking a break to sharpen the saw will end up taking less time and make you more efficient than continuing to chop down a tree with a dull saw.
As much as I may want to ignore the business dust bunnies, I’m rounding them up and going into full declutter mode.
Here are some essential areas that can use some business spring cleaning:
Product and Service Offerings
Do you have so many offerings that you can’t keep them all straight? If you can’t keep them straight, then you know your customers/clients can’t either.
Even when you can keep them straight—this is your business after all—it still may be too much for your customers and clients. Research shows that too many options actually leads to lower sales. For service offers, that can mean too many services or too many payment options.
So, what’s the right amount?
Amazon shows you a maximum of six suggestions when you add a book to your cart. Restaurants have found that people will choose the middle choice when they are given three options of different prices. (No one wants to look cheap.) And online marketers of information products have found success by funneling customers through a one-option-at-a-time model.
What about you?
For this business spring cleaning exercise, spread out or write down all of your offerings. Go through your sales records and put your offers in order of best-selling to worst-selling.
If you have “too many” offers, you can safely eliminate the worst-selling ones. You can also eliminate whichever ones just don’t fit you anymore.
If you’ve rebranded, revised or simply don’t love a particular offer, get rid of it. It’s your business. If you don’t love it, don’t sell it.
When you’ve pared down your offers, look at your pricing model. What can you do to make it easy for a customer/client to say “yes”? Give them fewer options.
I was coaching a massage therapist on simplifying her business model. She had more than a dozen treatment options, different options for length of treatment time, and basically a different price for each option.
What she really wanted to do was spend 75-90 minutes with each client and make recommendations based on their health and wellness needs.
I coached her to make all sessions 75-90 minutes long and charge the same fee no matter what treatment she ends up giving them. She was thrilled with the idea because it really simplified the model for her and would make it easy for clients to say “yes” to whatever treatment she recommended.
Did you get stuck on that suggestion above to go through your sales records?
If you had ready access to that information, that’s excellent. You may just need a little dusting off of your bookkeeping.
Are you happy with your current bookkeeping process? Have you been considering making a change?
If you didn’t have easy access to sales information, then you’ll want to spend some time getting your sales records in order and setting up a system for moving forward. You don’t have to have your sales numbers memorized. But it shouldn’t take me more than a few clicks to get that information.
I’ll admit that I haven’t always kept good records. I’ve never liked using Quickbooks or other similar software. (They’re not very pretty. And, yes, that’s important to us creative types.) Instead, I created my own multi-page spreadsheet (in Apple Numbers) to track both money and coaching hours.
It’s great, but it’s gotten a bit unwieldy after more than five years and hundreds of clients.
So I recently started using WaveApp in addition to my spreadsheet. I was thrilled to discover bookkeeping software that didn’t feel clunky or look ugly to me.
I’m still getting used to it, but my message to you is to do what you need to do to get organized. Your form of organization can look different from someone else’s.
That’s great. The point is that you (read: we) should be able to access those sales numbers effortlessly—joyfully, even.
Explore different bookkeeping software out there. Look into hiring a professional bookkeeper. As cumbersome as it may feel now, it will be easier to handle now than trying to wade through even more disorder later.
What’s your marketing ROI?
As a former marketing consultant, I know how hard it can be to answer that question. So, let’s leave money out of it for a moment and look at it anecdotally, for purposes of spring cleaning.
First, write down all of your marketing activities. Anything you do with the intention or hope of attracting a customer or client: Speaking, blogging, writing guest articles, in-person networking, professional breakfast meetings, monthly membership meetings, sponsored Facebook posts, regular Facebook posts, Twitter, free webinars or teleclasses, email, cold calls, connecting on LinkedIn, whatever.
Next, go through your list and circle the activities that have resulted in getting a customer or client. Yes, this can be tricky if a post on Facebook started a conversation that led to a level of trust that facilitated someone becoming a client two years later. If that client mentioned Facebook when you asked how they found you or why they decided to hire you, then circle Facebook.
Now go through your list and jot down an estimate for how much time you spend on that activity. You’ll probably have a different unit of measure for each one. You may do one speaking gig a month for 30 minutes.
Maybe you go to two in-person events a week for a total of four hours. Maybe you spend two hours a week on email newsletters, three to four hours a month on free webinars or teleclasses (this includes prep time and follow-up time), and an hour a day on Facebook.
How does your time spent compare to sales generated? If an activity isn’t generating any sales at all, you’ll want to rethink that activity. You might not need to toss it out, but you’ll definitely want to change up how you’re doing it.
For the activities that are generating sales, go back to your sales records and do a quick estimate of approximately how much money those activities have brought in.
Again, I know this part can be tough. Don’t fuss over the details. Just get a rough estimate. You’re pulling out some numbers to support the gut feeling you probably got when you started circling the sales-generating activities.
You likely already have a good sense of which activities are paying off and which aren’t. Now you know for sure. So go back through your list and cross off the ones that aren’t truly supporting you and your business.
Now that you’ve gotten rid of those, you can add in a new activity—or beef up an old one.
Marketing is a constant experiment in what works and what doesn’t. It’s OK when something doesn’t work. That means you’ve discovered something to cross off the list, and you get to move on to something else.
When you view marketing as an experiment, you’re more able to play and have fun and not worry about marketing “failures.”
When you’re done with your business spring cleaning, be sure to celebrate!
Notice that I didn’t mention tidying a messy desk anywhere in this list. I’m with Einstein and Jobs on the benefits of a messy desk!
If your messy desk muddles your thinking, then by all means, include it in your spring cleaning list. (I do dust mine off and rearrange the working stacks.) While a tidy desk feels great, it won’t affect the real changes you’re looking to make in your business.
So be sure to take advantage of this change in seasons to do the deep spring cleaning your business really needs. What is your top priority for your business this season?
About the Author, Kelly Eckert
Kelly Eckert is an author, professional speaker, and shamanic leadership coach. She is a graduate of Harvard College with a bachelor's degree in biological anthropology and Tufts Graduate School of Arts and Sciences with a master's degree in biology.
Kelly is a certified MentorCoach® and a certified coach member of the International Coach Federation. She is the creator of the Fear Releasing Method™ and Coaching with Animal Archetypes™. Kelly speaks nationally and internationally on the topics of fear and unleashing the animal within. Her latest book, What's Your Spirit Animal?, is now available. Find out more at kellyeckert.com.