Today (a public holiday in Canada), I’ll head to the office for my annual office clean-up. This rather strenuous work requires several trips to the dumpster outside our building. I’ll chuck massive amounts of old papers and outdated equipment, which, just a few months ago, might have been vital to the business but now just clutters the place.
The housecleaning isn’t that much fun and occasionally in the past I’ve chucked stuff that we actually still could use. However, if I failed to complete the clean-up, our offices would become uninhabitable. We would never be able to complete the work that needs to be done today within all of yesterday’s clutter.
Similar clean-ups may be in order for your overall marketing approaches. These occur naturally and without much effort if you have a structured planning and review system (tied in with your overall business plan). If not, you’ll need to take some time to answer a few questions.
Are your old advertising and marketing methods still working, or are you just carrying on because that is the way you’ve always done things?
I especially encourage you to review your Yellow Pages advertising, if you’ve used this media for years. Don’t quit advertising in the printed directories if they work for your business, but if you are simply paying the invoices because they’ve always been paid, ask yourself why.
Do you have deadwood on your staff?
Formerly useful employees may have outlived their worthiness. Keeping bad employees around just because “they’ve always been there” can be costly in more ways than one, since they may lower the bar to productivity and effectiveness for all of your employees. Some successful busnesses (I cannot claim to be one of them), have a “no layoffs for economic reasons” policy — but I don’t know of any successful business which has a “no layoffs even when the employees fail to contribute to the enterprise.” Of course, I am not suggesting you act carelessly here — you should always consult with a competent employment lawyer before dismissing anyone, especially in jurisdictions where employees have significant severance or notice rights. (Thoughtless actions may result in you paying huge legal settlements without gaining any valuable work at all from your dismissed employee. Ouch!)
Do your business model or practices need a clean-up or shake-up?
This is perhaps the hardest form of housekeeping because it asks you to consider major revisions or even throwing out business approaches and methods which have served you well for decades, if you’ve been in business a long time. You certainly don’t want to fall into the trap of falling for the latest fad, but I’ve been fortunate over the past few years in learning to think differently when conditions change.
Finally, of course, you can simply go in and clean up your office. The quiet days between Christmas and New Years are perfect for this type of work. With a somewhat decluttered office, I’ll be ready for the free Year End Review video presentation on Dec. 31 at 11:00 a.m. I’m hoping everyone who registers can attend, but may need to put anyone past the first 50 on a waiting list.