The daffodils are out, the cherry blossom is in full bloom and newborn lambs are standing by their mums. Spring is in the air.
Just as we spring clean our homes, I want to encourage you to spring clean your business to ensure it’s in the best possible shape for the next year – it’s going to be a tough one.
Start with the basics…
At home, we take down the curtains, pull up the rugs and give them a good shake to get rid of the dirt and rubbish.
In your company, take a long hard look at your products and services. What is selling and making a profit? Which ones sit in a market that can be developed? And what are you hanging onto that really is no longer valid?
Try a technical tool like the Boston Matrix, which allows you to categorise your products or services into Dogs (past their best), Cash Cows (can be milked and grown as long as you keep feeding them), Stars (have great potential but need money spent on them to keep them on track), and, finally, Question Marks (could go either way). This system will help you shake out the dross and concentrate on the good.
In a cash-starved economy, use your limited resources in the best possible way. If you are too close to your favourite legacy products to be realistic, involve a third party to depersonalise the process.
Clean out the cupboards and drawers and get rid of all the accumulated rubbish. In your company, this may be a staff review. The past two years has seen substantial culling across the board and you may well believe you have a mean, clean team.
However, part of this cupboard-cleaning exercise may highlight the need to mend precious items found squashed in at the back, long forgotten but clearly needed. Do you have a great employee who could be so much more if they were trained and supported? You may even find you need to replace this person because, no matter how much you try, they can’t, or won’t be able to meet the new demands of the business. Now’s the time to declutter.
Polish all your windows. Check your brand and route-to-market is crystal clear. Are you using all the right tools available in this 24/7 community? If not, why? What do you need to do to address it? Is your brand what you want it to be, or does it need a clean and polish?
Assess your work…
Now, sit down and enjoy a coffee to celebrate your clean home. In your business, make sure your stakeholders know what you’ve done. But remember: dust settles very quickly and all your hard work could be wasted if you become complacent. The thorough clean you have just undertaken shouldn’t be needed for another year. But make sure you keep dusting and checking for damage. Keep monitoring your performance and rectify any problems as soon as possible.
Jo Haigh is head of corporate finance for Corporate Finance Services.
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