Spring Cleaning to Your Business: Trim the Deadwood

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Now is a great time to freshen up your business for spring – particularly as our economy restarts.

April showers bring May flowers in the Pacific Northwest, and flowers have been in bloom aplenty. Just as a gardener is good about removing the debris and trimming the deadwood, a business owner needs to do the same. Eliminating debris and deadwood opens space for your business and the rest of your team – the heart of your business – to grow and thrive.

One of my favorite books is Necessary Endings by Dr. Henry Cloud. Dr. Cloud talks about removing the unnecessary items to make room for other tasks that will move you forward. He uses the analogy of pruning a rose bush and sometimes restructuring the key rose branches, so they are not crossing one another to make room for stronger and healthier growth. Businesses have similar issues: restructuring from time to time, pruning various activities/processes, etc. can all result in significant growth by allowing your true core competencies to flourish.

Spring cleaning is a great time to do some trimming, both in your home and in your business.

“Being alive requires that we sometimes kill off things in which we were once invested, uproot what we previously nurtured, and tear down what we built for an earlier time.” Dr. Henry Cloud in Necessary Endings

So, what are some options for tidying up and trimming the deadwood in your business you might ask? Well, take a look at some of your categories.  

  • Things you’ve meant to get to (i.e., clutter): Items in this category have fallen down the priority list because they are not urgent but will help you get organized and tidy. Things like going through that pile of paperwork that has sat at the edge of your desk for months or ditching a half-started project that is no longer relevant, are key to eliminating the clutter. Action: Spend 60 minutes clearing a pile of clutter each week.

  • Things that are no longer serving your needs: There are many things that once were relevant to your business but are no longer serving your needs. In some cases, you’ve outgrown them; in other cases, you’ve achieved the maximum return on your investment in them – further investment is just a waste of time and resources. For clues on this category, look at your expenses – they are a key pointer to things you can clean up in this category. For example, you might have started a subscription service two years ago that you no longer use, or you outgrew. Action: Call or email to cancel.  

  • Time Vampires: Look for things you thought would be quick to implement/do and yet continue to drag on without completion. In business, there are many projects that started small but have blossomed into tasks that now take 3x the original amount of time you forecasted for the task. Look for these types of things not only in your business, but also assess what time vampires you have in your life and trim them down to at most 1/3 of the time you are currently spending on such things. Action: Identify and trim at least three time vampires.

  • Team members: At any moment in time you can probably name your top performers and also your bottom performers. This is a time when you can assess the bottom performers and decide which can be mentored/coached into becoming at least good performers and which ones cannot. For those who, in your assessment, cannot make the grade, now is the time to work out the transition plan (replace, or simply do away with the position) and execute the plan. Action: Spend 30 minutes assessing your team and craft a plan.

  • Positions: People in your team fill positions that either you consciously defined/structured or which evolved over time as a consequence of your business’ needs and successes. Spring is a good time to review all the positions in your organization and decide which ones are no longer needed, or which should be modified to better support/grow your business. For positions you are eliminating or evolving, then you should look at who you have in those positions. If you think their position could be eliminated, could they move to another position in your business and do they have the skills/experience to succeed in that new position? For positions you wish to evolve, could the current employee succeed in the newly evolved position? Action: Assess the positions in your business for 10 minutes and then spend another 10 minutes deciding how you might eliminate or evolve the position.

  • Compensation & benefits packages: Springtime is an excellent time to look at your company’s compensation & benefits packages. Are all elements of the packages you provide still needed? Do any need to be changed? Identifying such moves now allows you to put in place a plan to implement revisions over the balance of the year. Action: Call your HR or Benefits Liaison and spend 30 minutes proactively reviewing your packages.

  • Software and Technology: Staying current and updated is important to speed and productivity for you and your team. Whether apps you use at home or software for the office, hone in on what is healthy, and what needs to be pruned. Action: Spend 30 minutes talking through what is helping you and your team thrive and what is outdated and needs to be eliminated or replaced.

Just like a gardener prunes out the many buds in branches, use the spring as a time to prune and cultivate your business. This will allow you to focus on what matters without the distraction of wading through the debris and deadwood that is no longer helping your business. If you take the time to do this now, you’ll thrive and grow for the rest of the year.  

Kristen David is a former trial lawyer and partner who went from working 85 hours a week and being a slave to her law firm, built it up to a million-dollar-plus business, then sold her shares and pivoted into a business coach guru. She is now an international speaker, bestselling author, and operates a successful business, empowering business owners to build thriving, profitable businesses that are self-managed with systems. She helps busy business owners build those systems by implementing policies and procedures the Fast Track Way.

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