2015 is winding down, and I hope it was a great year in your small business. I wish you even greater success in 2016. One of the best ways to get ready for a successful new year is to clear the decks of stuff you no longer need, physically and mentally. It’s time for a little office and psychic organizing.
The slow period between Christmas and New Year’s is the perfect time to get rid of the junk that’s holding you back. Every year during this slow week, I make it a tradition to toss the business detritus I’ve accumulated during the past 12 months. I invite you to join me by ridding yourself of all that stuff you don’t need to drag into the new year.
10 things to toss before the end of 2015:
- All those stacks. You know what I’m talking about. The papers you intend to file, articles and magazines you hope to read. Toss the magazines and articles. Go through those papers and ruthlessly toss most of them and file right now the ones you really need. Or better yet, scan them and file them electronically.
- Old electronics. Do you have a closet full of non-working printers, outdated laptops, and old phones you no longer use? Even if out of sight, they’re taking up space. Donate any working electronics and recycle the rest. Of course, first clean up your hard drives to eliminate sensitive data. Here’s how: https://www.microsoft.com/security/online-privacy/safely-dispose-computers-and-devices.aspx
- Your server. If you haven’t done so already, make 2016 the year you move your business applications to the cloud. You’ll be able to access your information from anywhere you have an Internet connection, and there’s less worry about losing everything in an earthquake, fire, or other disaster. We got rid of our server–and its problems–in 2015. What a relief.
- Costly customers. Even in the best of times, it’s hard to jettison any client or customer–after all, you need the cash flow, right? But what if they’re actually costing you money? Take a good hard look at your high-maintenance, low-profit customers and evaluate whether you’d be better off without them in 2016.
- Swag. If you attend a lot of trade shows, conferences, and other industry events, I’m betting you’ve accumulated a large pile of swag just collecting dust. Toss it and think twice before you take the freebies you’re offered at 2016 events.
- Business cards. If you’re like me, you’ve probably accumulated piles of these, along with the swag, from all those networking and industry meetings. Scan them into an electronic reader that can both capture and export data into applications like QuickBooks, Outlook, and expense reports.
- Old inventory you can’t sell. You probably have to pay taxes on that inventory so get rid of it while you can before December 31. You’ll liberate even more space in your office or warehouse, and if you donate your inventory, you may get a tax deduction too.
- Excess office space. If you have a conference room or cubicles you’re not using right now, get rid of them–in other words rent them out–through LiquidSpace, the website that connects start-ups with real estate owners who have excess space available to lease short-term.
- Things that don’t bring you joy. In her global bestseller–The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of of Decluttering and Organizing–Marie Kondo urges readers to only keep things that “spark joy” in their lives. That’s a good way to approach most of the things you do in your small business as well. Ask yourself questions like: Does this make me more creative or more productive? and Does it foster a more successful and harmonious team? Challenge yourself to ask whether each activity achieves a purpose. Does it propel you forward or hold you back? (Or meet a critical administrative need? Filing taxes doesn’t spark joy, but you better do it.)
- Your spouse. I’m not suggesting divorce, but if you’re constantly turning to your spouse for support or business advice that isn’t forthcoming, it’s time to recognize they’re not your best advisor. So concentrate on your home life at home, and find impartial advisors and supporters for your small business.
Copyright, Rhonda Abrams, 2015
This article originally ran in USA Today on December 25, 2015