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Starting the business year without the clutter from the prior year really helps you to focus on the future in a more structured manner with a clear head.

Physically cleaning your desk, office or premises may be a wonderful starting point, but here are five other areas of your business to give some attention to gain that 'fresh as new' feel.

1. The laptop cleanse

For most small business owners and the self-employed, the laptop or PC has become an integral tool of the trade, and it should be treated as such.

Delete unnecessary or superseded files from your hard drive, and put in place a plan to archive key documents appropriately. Critical data should be backed up securely or saved to a cloud drive – DropBox and Google Drive can help with this.

In order that your laptop or PC may continue to function smoothly, run any mandatory software updates and action a disk defrag if appropriate.

Finally, clean up your email inbox and your electronic calendar so that you are absolutely clear about what you are supposed to be doing and when!

For some more information, Microsoft have a nice guide for optimising Windows 7 performance.

2. The accounting detox

Find a thriving and profitable business, and you are most likely be see a venture with regularly reconciled accounts!  A full clean up of your accounting and administrative records should be carried out periodically.

Review your aged debtors or receivables listing and determine what action needs to be taken with regards to overdue balances — should they be chased, factored or written off? Is your credit policy working effectively, or does it need to be re-modelled?

A fair-minded business owner or self-employed person should also review their aged payables listings and purchase invoice files, and resolve to tidy up any outstanding issues with creditors.

In respect of the year ahead, review your direct debits, paid subscriptions and recurring charges. Are you securing the most advantageous deals for all essential fixed and recurring costs? Can better rates or terms be negotiated? Might some subscriptions be dated, and, if so, should they be renewed or cancelled?

3. The stock and fixed assets evaluation

Proceeding down the business balance sheet, review your inventories for obsolete, damaged or slow-moving stock, and take action accordingly.

If you operate in a services business, consider your fixed assets, such as IT and other equipment.

Are all assets working to their optimum capacity or capability, or do impaired or broken assets require repair or servicing? Determine to dispose of items that are not functioning properly or are surplus to requirements (while simultaneously taking up valuable space).

Remember that it is imperative to perform all required safety checks on premises, equipment or machinery.

4. The marketing and planning refresh

Update your business marketing material and jettison materials that are now obsolete, such as outdated business cards or letterheads that no longer have current details on them.

Are your business testimonials still relevant, or do they need to be revised or reconditioned?

Ensure that your social media biographies and online marketing strategies are both complete and current. Do you have a coherent business plan, and have you set goals for the year ahead?

5. The staff boost

The success of a business is often really about the calibre and the effectiveness of its people, and duly motivated staff members tend to garner the greatest job satisfaction and perform accordingly.

Undertake staff appraisals or performance reviews and set appropriate career plans. Are you meeting staff training requirements for your industry, for health and safety compliance, and, importantly, for staff development purposes? And make sure you approach your staff appraisals the right way!  If you need help, please let us know.

To complete the clean up, double check that all password or premises access has been curtailed for departed staff.

Out with the old and in with the new!

An effective clean out will purge matters or items that are no longer of relevance to your business in order that you can operate more effectively and with greater focus going forward.

As with most business strategies, you may need to prioritise, so consider which areas of your business are the least efficient or are the most time consuming, and whether you can carry out a clean-up of select areas so that your business can be more streamlined for the year ahead.

Please contact your Hanrick Curran Adviser if you would like to discuss the high priority areas of your business that need focus to ensure you are clutter free to take on the opportunities of 2015.


Thanks to Peter Wargent for contribution to content.