How to give your company a spring clean

Take time away from working in your business to work on it, says Jo Haigh.

by Jo Haigh
Last Updated: 10 Apr 2015

We don't really spring clean anymore, do we? For my mother and grandmother it used to be an annual and positively cathartic experience.

Turning out the cupboards and drawers, taking down the curtains to wash, polishing the silverware and beating the rugs and carpets; the tasks could take weeks, especially with none of the labour saving devices we now take for granted. Yet the result must have felt like a new beginning - and with the added bonus of making the cleaner fitter.

We may not do this in our homes much any more, but giving your business a ‘spring clean’ is well worth it. It's profoundly sensible to think we all need time to work on our business, as much as we spend in it. A luxury, indeed, for many owner managers, and one I have to force myself to face up to on a regular basis.

This cleansing process is particularly useful when looking to get your business ready to sell, of course. In the corporate finance profession we call it pre-sale grooming. Not unlike when selling your house, getting rid of the clutter and having a general tidy up will hopefully make the property more attractive to a would-be buyer.

When putting together a list of things to do, think input and output:

Input

Suppliers. Who are they? Are your terms and conditions as good as they could be? Are you being looked after as a premium customer?

Stock and work-in-progress. Are the levels saleable or convertible? Have you got too much or too little?

Staff and the Board. Who is hanging in there, and do you need to consider hanging some people out? How are you going to keep the good ones? What's your succession plan, and how is the board performing?

Premises. What's the impression they give? What do they say about you and what do you need to look at to improve?

Output

Products and services. Are your sale prices correct? What's your customer concentration? How are your contracts standing up? Have you got robust T&Cs?

IT systems and website. Are they up to date and relevant? Do a mystery shop around your site and compare it to your competitors.

Customers. Who are they? Do they know and value you? If not, what are you going to do about it? When did you last do a customer survey?

Marketing. What do you do? What's the payback? Just how savvy are you about social media?

And that’s just for starters. What about the legals, insurance, banking, the local community, engagement, risk and stakeholder management and team engagement?

Put in the time to do some cleaning this season and put the ‘spring’ back into your business.

Jo Haigh is CEO of FDS Director Services and the author of 'The Keys to the Boardroom - How to Get There and How to Stay There'. Get more advice from Jo at Inspiring Women Birmingham on April 23. Check out the programme and book tickets here.

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