Business spring cleaning: Five tips for entrepreneurs
Spring. It’s a season when renewal is in the air and spring-cleaning projects await.
If you run a company, spring can be the best time to get to those tasks that seem to have hibernated during the winter.
So, we asked five BDC experts to give us some spring-cleaning tips for busy business owners. Their advice will help you scour what may be hiding in those hard-to-reach corners of your operations.
Do year-to-year financial comparisons
Nadine El Saddi, Regional Manager, Client Diversity at BDC, suggests you use the spring season to dive into your financials to better understand your company’s performance.
“Compare your current figures with the targets established at the start of the year,” says the Montreal-based manager. “Ask questions and review past decision making.”
El Saddi, who works with diverse entrepreneurs on such issues as accessing capital, networking and financial literacy, offers a couple of other housecleaning tips: she suggests prioritizing the clientele that align with your company’s values and revising supplier agreements that are not benefiting the organization.
Ask questions and gather info about your clients
Chris O’Shea suggests some spring cleaning that delves into sales, including data, pricing and customer info.
“Look at the last year of sales data,” says O’Shea, a Senior Business Advisor with BDC Advisory Services who’s based in Halifax. “Go into platforms to see how things have faired and set goals for the year ahead.”
He also suggests using this time to define your pricing strategy. “Do you have a good sense of where the market is going and where your pricing model fits for your margins and your customers?”
O’Shea also suggests speaking with sales staff to gather information on customer insights. “You need to know what collateral will help close more business.”
“It’s also a good time to ask lots of questions that could turn up blind spots. Like, 'Do you know how much it costs your company to acquire a new customer? Do you know what’s happening in your markets? How are you attributing success to your marketing efforts?'”
Look at your overall strategy
For Rony Israel, a Senior Business Advisor based in Toronto, spring is a great time to step back from your business to get a wide-angle view. “Look at your strategic priorities and the assumptions that led to them,” he says. “Also, see if your key performance indicators (KPIs) are delivering as planned.”
Israel, who has worked extensively with entrepreneurs, says spring is a good occasion to look at who is doing what and whether they could benefit from some professional development.
“Offer training to your employees to strengthen their skill sets and capabilities. That can also encourage retention.” Speaking of employees, he says use this time of the year to revisit your compensation plan to ensure you’re attracting the right people with the skills the company needs.
Do a springtime tech check
Senior Business Advisor Tyler Lockyer, who helps BDC clients develop their digital strategies, offers a tech to-do list for the spring.
- Take a global view of your systems and see what upgrades or training are required.
- Establish a roadmap of technology initiatives, including documentation updates, implementation plans and training requirements.
- Ask yourself what new functionality you’re missing out on from your existing systems and what an implementation plan would look like.
- Take advantage of the webinars that software vendors provide at this time of year.
- Revisit your cybersecurity plan.
Check your insurance coverage
Florence Mazerolle is a BDC account manager specializing in small businesses. She is based in Moncton. She suggests using spring as the time to look at how your business is covered for unforeseen disasters. “Make sure your insurance is up to date and you have sufficient coverage for assets and the interruption of your business,” says Mazerolle, who offers a cautionary tale about one of her clients.
One day Mazerolle was going through his financial statements and she noticed the high insurance costs the company was paying. “I learned that his agent, who is his best friend, insisted that he be fully covered.”
It was a good thing that he listened to his friend.
“Two years after that conversation, a fire destroyed my client’s equipment, inventory and all that he had built for over a decade. I visited him outside of his burned-out building in the dead of February and we both shed some tears.”
Eighteen months following that disaster, it was a different story.
“Not only did he get a state-of-the-art building and brand-new equipment, but all his lost income was covered. This would have been a different story had he not taken out full coverage.”
She suggests you look at the fine print on your policy and see how your business would fare from a disaster like that.
Discover how to set measurable targets for your business, create an action plan and ensure you have the capabilities to succeed by downloading the free guide, The Foundations of Strategic Planning.