It’s the ultimate checklist for fall cleaning your business.
Fall cleaning has almost surpassed spring cleaning in general popularity and effectiveness – and it’s a great pre-winter stress reliever! For business, autumn is an especially important time of year. There are fourth quarter sales, all that year-end paperwork, holidays to work around, and shorter days in which to get it all done.
While autumn is still weeks away, wouldn’t it be nice if you could begin the new season with a huge chunk of the work already done? Or maybe even all of it?
If you have a micro or very small business, it might be easier than you think! Use this checklist (you can download and print it here for free):
- Start sorting your important documents and filing them: business and personal statements, business tax receipts and documents, personal tax documents, investment statements, and product manuals and warranty information.
- Filing cabinets are traditional but use what works for you. If a simple expandable vinyl file will work for you, that’s an inexpensive and handy alternative.
- While you’re working, pull out tax records more than ten years old, bank statements at least a year old, and credit card statements older than three months – unless you need them to support business purchases. These documents can almost certainly be shredded, but if you’re unsure, check with your financial advisor.
- Clear out the clutter in your office and work space. If it’s getting in the way, cut back on decorative items as well.
- Actually clean – sweep, scrub, do the windows, spot clean the carpet, and clean the crumbs out of your keyboard. (I know I’m not the only one who eats at my desk!)
- Even if your business never sees a client or customer face-to-face, your work space should be clean enough to serve as a lobby. This makes it easier to maintain, it provides fewer distractions, and there’s the psychological benefit of a more professional atmosphere.
- Air out your mission statement and review your business plan. Look at your projections for the year and compare your actual progress. If you’re on track, that’s great! If not, figure out what adjustments you need to make to get back on track, and make a note to account for those things next year.
- Get your employees into the spirit, too. Ask them if they see particular products as stale, or if there are processes that are bogging things down. They have a different perspective (and often can share the customer’s perspective) that you shouldn’t ignore.
- Evaluate your merchandising, cross-selling, and add-on practices. If they aren’t effective, change them up for the fourth quarter! Also take a look at your customer retention methods to see if they need some revision.
- Review your website and Facebook page with the intent of keeping things relevant. Try to take the view of your audience and see what they see. Too many of the same images, or the same types of images? Is text error-free and easy to read? Make notes of things to edit.
- Go through your Facebook comments and be sure you’ve responded to every one. Facebook rates you on your response times now so if you’ve been slacking, you’ll want to make this more of a priority. Keep up to date with how Facebook and other social media channels determine who sees your posts; this summer brought a few changes. (And some of them suck.)
- Make sure your key images (if not all of them) include ALT text.
- Update your passwords if it’s been more than a month or two.
- Clean out and organize your computer files and emails.
- Start filling in your calendar for the rest of the year with upcoming projects, schedules, special days, and appointments you need to plan for or around.
- Plan how to ramp up your social media engagement and/or presence if your business is influenced by holiday spending.
- Plan for a business audit before spring. Bring in your go-to accountant, tech guru, legal advisor, mentor, or consultant (hi!) for a spot-check or full-on evaluation, depending on whether you’re sailing through the year easily or constantly adjusting for challenges and obstacles.
For me, the only one of these tasks that’s intimidating is the filing, because I’m lazy about it. Still, it’s nothing that can’t be done in an hour or maybe two, and I’ve got about 6 months worth of paperwork stacked up! I’m certain nearly all of you can make it happen before the official change of seasons.
One note: the checklist is in this order for a reason: priorities. Of course everything is important, so if there’s one task you can do quickly and easily, do it, but stick to the plan. For example, if you’re online to pay a bill and can take an extra 30 seconds to change your password, go ahead and do it, but try not to jump around. The last thing I want is for you to get distracted, forget all about the all-important paperwork, and in a few months, get a tax audit or a loan rejection because you didn’t file that one piece of paper. You don’t want it, either!
Remember, you can download the checklist for free, share it, and make all the copies you’d like: just click here. As always, likes and shares are nice to see, but stop by and say hi on Facebook, or DM me on Twitter.
Till next time,