As we approach the second half of 2016, now is the time to dig deep and gather a thorough understanding of what processes are moving your business forward -- and which ones are preventing you from doing so. By removing any obstacles that are getting in your way, you'll make room for more streamlined processes that will serve you well through year's end.
Ten entrepreneurs from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) offer their best "spring cleaning" business tips and how they'll benefit your efficiency (while reducing costs in the process).
1. Implement the 75 percent rule.
You should remove any process or system that your team (or a project team) uses less than 75 percent of the time. As soon as you drop below that threshold, that process is no longer reliable. Take a moment and see if you can refine it to account for the "exceptions" that might cause your team to deviate from using it. But if you can't do that, throw it out and start again.--Aaron Schwartz, ModifyWatches.com
2. Review overhead time.
This year, I spent full days shadowing our operations team to find ways we can improve their process. Employees find ways to make their work functional using tools such as Excel or Notepad, but that doesn't mean it is the most efficient and economical way to complete their daily activities. Simple modifications can improve speed, lessen costs and best of all, improve the morale.--Marjorie Adams, Fourlane
3. Remove any leftover leads.
There's always a stack of leftover leads who seem almost (but never quite) ready to buy. I like to go through these once a year, usually in the spring, and make one last pitch to these older prospects. If nothing happens this time around, I usually remove them from my systems to prevent them from distracting my other employees or leading me down paths that won't pay off.--Matt Doyle, Excel Builders
4. Mindmap your business processes.
Set aside a few hours to mindmap your current operations. Having mindmapped everything, you can look for areas of inefficiency or processes that may be creating clutter. Use a collaborative mindmapping program like Mindmeister, so everyone can contribute to the process of identifying and removing stagnation.--Marcela De Vivo, Brilliance
5. Question your current system's efficiency.
For every part of your business, challenge your employees to ask, "Can we do this more efficiently?" If it's an internal system like tracking your sales pipeline or an external function like shipping or distribution, you should regularly ask the employees whose job it is to manage the systems and if things can be made simpler. Never stick with a system just because it's in place. Innovation is key.--Brittany Hodak, ZinePak
6. Review your financials.
How are you performing against the goals you've set in January now that we are in Q2? Do you have reliable financial data that you can confidently say reflects the health of your business? Take inventory of what financial data you have, what you can rely on, then seek the necessary help to address the issues that prevent you from getting the numbers you need to run your business.--Michael Hsu, DeepSky
7. Eliminate and automate.
Take one day off of work, analyze your current systems and examine what's working. Speak to your key employees on this day and ask them about the processes that are either redundant or unnecessary. Eliminate those processes altogether. Next, find out which processes are being done in a very manual fashion. Automate them. All of a sudden, you've saved multiple hours each and every week.--Anshey Bhatia, Verbal+Visual
8. Consider cloud computing.
The flexibility cloud computing supplies alone is worth examining. As companies begin to cater to more remote workers and flexible working schedules, being able to access work files anywhere in the world is imperative for employees. Not only does cloud computing make things easier for employees, but it also serves as an efficient management tool for business owners.--Anthony Pezzotti, Knowzo.com
9. Run a "Start, Stop, Continue" session.
Meet with each department for a one-hour "Start, Stop, Continue" session. Ask which activities your organization should start doing. Expect this list to be long, especially if you give people time in advance to prepare. In order to start new projects, you'll have to wrap up or "kill off" others. Those get listed on the "stop" list. Finally, identify the projects that should continue until completion.--David Ciccarelli, Voices.com
10. Archive old client files.
Don't be afraid to close files for clients who are no longer working with you. As your company grows and changes, you will naturally see some attrition with the types of clients you work with. Yet, it's sometimes hard to let go of those old accounts. Unless you need to use a client's file for a case study or training example, archive it to make room for new opportunities.--Nicole Munoz, Start Ranking Now