Earlier this year I read the Marie Kondo ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up’
The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organising. I applied this to my home life and realised how useful it would be to do the same and declutter my business. Think of all the unnecessary and unused “stuff” that can accumulate as a business grows—practices, processes, tech systems, even employees. Recently, I’ve set out to purge my business of the things that are no longer useful or relevant (a process I’ll admit is easier said than done). Here’s my approach to decluttering a company.
Step 1: Restore order
Much like my possessions had grown through purchases made by impulse decisions, as my business grew it also started being cluttered with ad-hoc processes and systems. The beautifully easy and simple processes that fitted the business in the start-up phase had morphed into a beast of mismatched processes that was strangling its efficiency.
So I decided to start by restoring order. Just as I really don’t need 10 different cooking utensils to stir my epic curries, I decided I really don’t need more than 2 different ways of bookkeeping for myself or clients. Yes, the different genres of business have different requirements, but staff needed the same strategy each and every time they logged into Xero if we’re going to get all parts of the business running on the same strategy, we need to use the same processes.
So, we all had to agree on one basic system to follow and reduced our ‘they are different because clients’ by awaiting a year end or quarter end process and switching them to the same process. This seems minor, but just think how having one unified system cascades into data collection, tracking and the message it sends to your organisation that we’re all on the same team. Any one of my team can pick up any client at any time and help them with queries or holiday cover for staff for bookkeeping and vat.
Step 2: Get rid of items that no longer fit (even sentimental ones)
We’ve all done it—kept that beloved old t-shirt long after it ceased being something wearable in public. Such sentimental items stay in our closets collecting dust because we’re waiting for the fad to come back or, more accurately, we can’t bear to get rid of it.
I’ve had to ask myself: are you keeping certain policies, rules or employees just for sentimental reasons? Do they really fit in our growing business? There is nothing wrong with admitting that a policy or employee that was a fit at the beginning does not fit the culture of the growing business now. After all, at one point, even the founder and owner will no longer fit where the business may be heading. We all have our time and place.
I regularly have sit-down meetings with my team, I have frank discussions with each about how they fit in with the changing business and try and ensure that their personal and career aspirations are being met both inside and outside of work. Their happiness is paramount to me as this directly feeds into the business success and it changes constantly so being available to discuss this openly all the time has meant we have a motivated and dedicated team that self regulates and keeps an eye on each other within this culture.
This has meant we have been approached by great staff wanting to join our club as we are genuinely a happy team that work hard for each other and our clients.
Step 3: 80-20 rule
I read about the Pareto principle or 80-20 rule and applying this to the wardrobe it means that the average person wears 20% of their wardrobe 80% of the time. I have always thought this to be the best rule for business and I encourage clients to work out the 20% of clients that pay 80% of their overall income and get them to re-evaluate the other 80% taking them back to the step 3 question ‘are they a good fit’?
Our growth in the past year has been challenging. Moving from the purpose built home office to a large ‘proper’ office and back to the purpose built home office but now the business has full use of the house meaning staff have a quiet office, garden, lounge and bike and car parking as well as a nap room, increasing their well-being. I spent too much time on doing the work and too little on strategic issues and steering the ship. I knew it was time to make a change. I got Emma involved who has been charged with taking over most of the day-to-day operational tasks, so I can spend most of my time on strategic ones. As a result, I’m left with more time to help my staff and more time to focus on my business.
Step 4: Magic Word
The best lesson I have learned is relearning the magic word and it is not please – it has been the word help. Asking for help in business and in life has pushed the business forward, and myself the most. Staff have engaged and been motivated to help and come up with ideas all the time to improve current systems and make easier more simple processes. I am not expected to be able to come up with all the answers anymore in fact I am left out of most processes more and more. I have outsourced 20% of my tasks that would have taken up 80% of my time and work hard on what I love which in turn increases my happiness and those around me.
To find out more information about outsourcing your accountancy or bookkeeping to our Xero Accountants please get in touch 01452 546682.