With spring finally here, you may be thinking of spring-cleaning your home. I certainly am – there’s something about the warmer weather that almost compels me to clean away winter’s dull energy.
This got me thinking about the benefits of spring cleaning your business. And who better to draw inspiration from than the Queen of Tidying, Marie Kondo?
When I read her bestselling book, The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up, I noticed how many similarities there are between her philosophy and ours at Accounting Heart. Kondo connects the process of tidying up to your personal values, and surrounding yourself with what you love. There’s a perfect parallel here with our 4 Pillars philosophy, especially the Know Yourself pillar – knowing what’s important to you and finding joy in your state of flow when you’re doing what you love.
Kondo’s approach to reducing clutter also reminds me of how we help you simplify processes – less paper and digital clutter means more time to do what ‘sparks joy’ for you.
If your business has become bogged down in mess and disorder, it’s time to make a fresh start and create the space for doing what you love. And in this two-part blog series, help is at hand!
So, let’s get into part one: Our 6 tips for how to spring clean your business, Marie Kondo style:
1. Commit to tidying up
You’ll only benefit from being organised if you 100% commit to it and see it through. In the process of tidying up, you’ll have to make a few hard decisions and some change may be necessary. But, as Kondo says, you can’t change your habits without changing your thinking. “We can only transform our lives if we sincerely want to,” she says, adding that even small changes can transform us. Kondo also suggests that tidying your life (or business) should be done quickly – like ripping off a Band-Aid – so you confront the important issues and don’t have time to waver in your decisions. And rather than being an end-point, tidying becomes a tool to help you establish the life you want once things are put in order.
2. Imagine your ideal business and lifestyle
How would your ideal business fit into your ideal lifestyle? Remember to look at the whole picture. Imagine your end goal; this gives you purpose and the motivation to keep going until you reach it. This aligns with one of our four core values at Accounting Heart: creating holistic finance habits where we look at your whole picture – in business and life – to design a growth path you’ll stick to. This helps you deal with the stress of being a business owner in a rapidly changing world, too. As Kondo says: “Anxiety arises from not being able to see the whole picture. If you feel anxious, but are not sure why, try putting your things in order.” This also ties in with our Plan pillar, around defining and aligning your values and goals.
3. Finish discarding first
Here comes the scary part – letting go. Kondo says there are two reasons we struggle to do this: “an attachment to the past or a fear for the future”.
In choosing what to keep and what to discard, you need to answer Kondo’s famous question: “Does it spark joy?” If ‘Yes’, keep it, if ‘No’, let it go.
This gets tricky in a business setting, because when did an email, a piece of paper or a business process spark joy? Kondo’s solution is to throw out anything that doesn’t fall into one of these categories:
- Currently in use (e.g. an email requiring action, current year budgets, software you frequently use)
- Needed for a limited time (e.g. tax returns and business records)
- Must keep indefinitely (e.g. company records and legal documents)
Once you have discarded what you don’t need, you can focus on bringing order to what you love and what will move your business forward.
4. Tidy by category
Now you know what you’re going to keep, it’s time to put it in order. Kondo recommends tidying by category. First, you need to take every item you want to keep and put it all in one spot. From there you’ll divide into categories.
In her book, Kondo deals with common things found in both homes and offices: paper, stationery, books, magazines, training notes, manuals, warranties and surplus IT cords and equipment. To learn more about how to deal with these items, I recommend you read her book. But in this blog series, I am looking at how Kondo’s concepts can be applied specifically to your business.
5. Follow the right order
When you start to tidy, you don’t want to start with a category that will bog you down. Here’s where you practise your decision-making skills on easy-to-master categories before tackling those big hard ones. Kondo acknowledges it can be hard to decide, especially when an item is rare or high value – or both. So, start with categories where the items are not rare and have low value. She identifies three additional factors that add value to belongings:
- Function (it serves a particular purpose; you need it to run your business)
- Information (something important you need to know now or in future)
- Emotional attachment (something that evokes an emotional response. In my years as a business accountant, I’ve found finances definitely evoke an emotional response, as do the products and services you offer, dealing with people and your own mortality.)
That’s why for this exercise, we recommend the following order:
- Emails: Archive old emails, unsubscribe from unneeded email lists, sort the rest into categories from point 3
- Subscriptions: Audit then cancel or reduce redundant software subscriptions
- Processes: Audit your processes and eliminate non-essentials
- Finances: This is a big task, so you may need to enlist an accountant to sort out your bookkeeping, tax and BAS lodgement, your business budgets and debts
- Products/services: Audit your offerings and what they’re worth to your business – what needs to stay or go?
- Clients: Do a client audit – which bring joy to your business and which drain your time, energy and profits?
- Human resources: Review the job description and cost of each person in your business. Tweak as needed.
- Legal documents & insurance: Getting these sorted helps you rest easy that you’re covered if something happens to you or your business.
In part 2 of our blog series, we’ll go into more detail about these 8 points.
6. Ask if it sparks joy
If you struggle to tidy any category, focus on the outcome and how having it sorted will spark joy in your life. If something doesn’t bring you joy when you think of it, maybe that category isn’t one you value, so leave it and move on.
At Accounting Heart, we want to encourage you to create and operate a business you love; one that ‘sparks joy’, so you can live the life you love. Otherwise, why are you doing it? It’s about aligning your head, heart and values – and tidying is one way to do this. Kondo says, “As you put your house [or business] in order and decrease your possessions, you’ll see what your true values are, what is really important in your life.”
If you’d like to go deeper into creating your ideal business and life, download our eGuide, The 4 pillars you need to build a rock-solid, future-proof business you love. You’ll learn how to reconnect to your business purpose, the importance of self-care, creating a plan you’ll stick to, and using your numbers to help you grow.