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This spring, look for the obvious and immediately tangible ways to cut hidden costs from your business, such as stationary and software. (Photo by Hero Images/Getty Images)

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Spring clean your business with these 7 tips

A few simple changes can get you new clients and motivated employees

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Spring cleaning can reveal whether your organization is on track—or not—from a budget and vision perspective. Here are seven tips on how to shape up operations quickly and efficiently.

1. REVITALIZE YOUR LEADS

Take a look at your sales funnel to kickstart new leads, suggests Lisa Kember, owner of CEO peer network The Alternative Board in Mississauga East who also runs a training and coaching practice to help business owners move beyond entrepreneurship.

“Are you still counting on landing something that you quoted months ago and is long since dead?” she asks. “Clear it out and move forward with new leads.”

For Toronto’s Joshua Zuchter, whether you keep or ditch a lead is cut and dry: If you don’t get a bite within one or two tries, toss that line away. “I don’t like putting in a lot of effort to get someone to be a client,” the international life and business coach says. “[Because if you do,] then how much [time] is it going to take to maintain them as a client?”

Instead, he suggests finding a connection when pursuing prospects. “How do they look at life? What are their values? What are my values?” Zuchter says. “If you have a connection, you’re already setting the relationship up for success.”

2. SAVE SOME CASH

Take the plunge and review where you and your business are financially, Doretta Thompson, director of corporate citizenship at CPA Canada, said in a recent episode of Your Money with Nancy Snedden.

“One of the most important things is to get started. Take that first step, which is what scares people,” she says. “When you ignore things, they seem often to be a lot worse than they are. Once you do that, it gives you the sense of control and then you start moving step by step through it.”

From there, look for the obvious and immediately tangible ways to cut costs, suggests Kember. Review and slash your hidden expenses, from stationary to software. “It is almost guaranteed you will find something you could reduce your costs on,” she says. “And voilà! Instant improvement on the bottom line.”

Zuchter looks at saving from an investment angle. Hire staff to fill a need, rather than outsourcing, he says, adding: “I’m a fan of having employees, because it takes much less effort to get everyone on the same page.”

He also recommends investing in a coach. “Coaches help individuals get the [professional] life that they want, and save money doing it,” he says.

3. REBOOT YOUR GOALS

If you’re like Zuchter, you’ll reassess your goals—both short- and long-term—once a year, not more. He also recommends coming back to your source of inspiration. “Revisit it,” he says, “every day…through something uplifting.”

But what about measuring success? Implement key metrics to assess and evaluate your progress, Kember advises. “If used consistently, these can be indicators that allow the owner or management team to adjust metaphorical levers and pivot or adapt to changing conditions by seeing early indicators of challenges.”

4. PRESS REFRESH ON CONTENT

Digital marketing is not a choice. Likes and shares are no joke. These days, real business leads come out of a company’s online presence, so it must be managed well. “As part of your spring cleaning, you should look at your website and social media activity to move away from just visibility to real customer acquisition-driven marketing,” says Kember.

Zuchter couldn’t agree more, adding that using social media platforms to their full potential—including automating posts to keep content fresh and up to date—reduces marketing costs. Lastly, don’t underestimate the impact of the e-newsletter. “They have not lost their lustre and, in fact, have made more of a comeback over some social media,” he says.

5. MOTIVATE YOUR STAFF

The best way to motivate employees? Give them an opportunity to participate in the business’ evolution. “It makes employees feel a part of the movement of the organization,” says Zuchter. “It increases their motivation and encourages leadership.”

Kember agrees, adding that deeper insights from employees who are on the floor can improve client relations. “The business benefits from new ways to evolve in response to customer needs,” she says.

6. TAKE A SURVEY

Customer feedback is a barometer for how well your business is servicing the needs of others, and the survey—using a tool such as SurveyMonkey—is a simple and effective way to find out what’s working and what’s not. How you implement one depends on the type of business you’re running; perhaps you incorporate it at the end of each project, maybe it’s an email sent out to your client base annually, or it could also be part of a simple Q&A at the end of every interaction. “Sometimes simply sitting across the table from a client and asking for feedback face-to-face can yield exceptional discussion and new opportunities,” Kember says.

7. LOOK IN THE MIRROR

“One thing I ask my clients from time to time: Would you hire you to do your job?” says Kember. “Sometimes it pays to take a look at how well you are performing and explore ways you can improve, from delegating more responsibility, to championing your team better, to consciously managing your time and directing yourself toward the things that directly impact the bottom line.”

If you do find yourself in a rut, chances are your focus is too narrow, says Zuchter.

“If you look right in front of you while driving, you’ll either hit something or you’ll slow down,” he says. “The best thing you can do is look up and out … towards your vision.”