5 Tips to Declutter Your Business Operations
One job we business owners often forget is to regularly review our business operations. If you are like me, the cost of doing business (business operations) has increased dramatically over the years. Part of this is that we are now using more SAAS (software as a system) solutions for e-mail and social marketing. Part of it is that websites are more complex and have more useful plug-ins than ever before. And part of it is that we buy access to programs and systems that we then don't have time or forget to implement.
My recommendation to my clients and to you is that it's smart to schedule a once a year time on your calendar to review your backend systems and declutter your business's operations. Click To Tweet Get rid of what you bought but are not using. Check for updates to the things you are using.
Declutter Your Business Backend Virtual Workshop
To help you with organizing your business's backend and evaluating what to get rid of you can register for my Declutter Your Business's Backend workshop, coming up on September 16th, 2020. We'll take a look at what tools you are using, what's working, and what's bugging you. The goal is to have you feeling freshened up for the upcoming year, confident about the systems you are using, and feeling relief to get rid of what is not working for you.
5 Tips to Feel Decluttered and Organized
- Pay annually. When you subscribe to a back end system that helps you run your business be sure to pay for it on an annual basis if you possibly can. Click To Tweet Most tools give you a discount for paying annually. It's often a 5 to 20% savings when you do this, which brings your operating costs down. You'll find that it is a relief not to be saddled with a half dozen monthly fees, too. Paying annually helps you focus on your true costs of staying in business. For years I didn't manage this very well, and to my utter shame I didn't keep a good handle on the cost of doing business. My business doubled in sales about 5 years ago when I started paying attention, like any good business owner should, to what I was spending where.
- Schedule a calendar check-in. When you buy an annual subscription to a back end service go forward in your calendar 10 months. That's two full months before payment due again. Mark off 15 minutes to review this tool. Ask yourself or your team members these questions:
- Have you used this tool?
- Is it still doing what it is supposed to do?
- Do you really still need it?
- Is there a new tool that is cheaper and better anyway?
- Is this tool still being supported by the company with upgrades and tech support?
3. Ask your peers for recommendations before you buy. If you are in my Women Biz Leaders free Facebook group you can post a question about what tool others are using or what they think of your tool. Back end tools change often, and sometimes not for the better. If you decide to make a change ensure that you can see the direct and clear benefit to you. (Cheaper isn't always better, but sometimes it is.)
4. Consider the paid version of a tool you use often. If you've been using the “free” version of a tool but you use it a lot, take a look at the “pro” or paid version to see if that would benefit you. Here's an example from my own business. For several years I used the free version of Canva and the free version of Later, too. (These are affiliate links.) As we used Canva more and more, and they added more benefits to the Pro edition, it became one of our go-to tools and well worth it to upgrade to the Pro version. The same thing happened with Later – until this year I used the free version, but now I am on Instagram so often that the paid version is well worth it to me.
This doesn't mean that I might not go back down to the free version in a year – my needs might change, or another tool might add the features I use a lot. It's sort of like figuring out a jigsaw puzzle, thinking about and buying access to the tools you need. And it changes – which is why you want to mark your calendar to review your tools at least once a year.
As an example, recently I had to pay my annual fees for Missinglettr, Hootsuite and Canva. Already, because of a change that happened with Canva in the past few days, I know that next year I probably won't have to buy Hootsuite again. So I've marked it in my calendar, and I've got to remember not to pre-schedule past one year into the future on Hootsuite (which I rarely do anyway).
In your written business plan make a short section that lists all the tools you use. In fact, go back and figure out all the tools you've bought. (I know that might take some doing, but it's your job to know these things!) With a list you'll know when each one is due, what it's costing you, and whether you even need it anymore. (In my Declutter Your Business's Backend workshop you'll receive an inventory template to use.) Using this inventory might, in fact, help you stumble across something you paid for that you forgot all about but could be using.
5. Lose the guilt! Don't feel guilty about wasted money – I've wasted thousands of dollars over the past 18 years on tools I rarely or never used. We all do. Just move forward and make sure you are using what you need, and drop the rest. Things change and we all make mistakes. Wasting time feeling guilty or bad is not the CEO mindset you need.
Benefit: Decluttering your business's backend will sharpen your focus, give you a sense of “newness” about your business, and probably save you time and money now and in the future. It will help you keep your eye on your business's operating costs, which is your job to do.
Related article: The Best E-mail Marketing Tools in 2020
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