Organize Your Business with the KonMari Method

Japanese organizing queen Marie Kondo and her KonMari method of home-organizing has become a phenomenon. When her bestselling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, came to the world’s attention it completely redefined the world of organizing. Marie Kondo was included in TIME magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2015. Her new Netflix show,Tidying Up With Marie Kondo, has become a blockbuster hit. Many of her followers post their Kondo-style results on social media. Ms. Kondo has created international buzz with her catch-phrase “Spark Joy”. She instructs you to keep only items that “spark joy” in your life and “thank” all items that are given away.

The saying “a place for everything and everything in its place” has been and continues to be a mantra. Who could have imagined years ago that being a Professional Organizer would become a profitable and popular career choice? Just about every magazine today has published an organizing article with tips on how to streamline every room in a home.

It is interesting to note a few statistics that relate to organizing. Escape Magazine reported in April 2000 that “you are contributing to a $154 billion industry if renting a self-storage space to store excess belongings.” Uppercase Magazine reported “the $8 billion home organization industry has more than doubled in size since the early 2000’s—growing at a staggering rate of 10% each year.”

Companies lose millions of dollars every year due to disorganization. The Wall Street Journal reports that “the average U.S. executive wastes six weeks per year retrieving misplaced information from messy desks and files”. According to Forbes ASAP “the typical executive today wastes 150 hours a year, almost one month, searching for lost information.” To avoid this problem in your company, it could be beneficial to try the KonMari method. Rieva Lesonsky, CEO @ GrowBiz Media utilizes KonMari to help entrepreneurs as follows:

1. Be committed. It is important to dedicate yourself wholeheartedly to KonMari. Kondo recommends completing the whole process over a weekend or consecutive series of days. That’s not always realistic for a business; however, you can commit to finishing the project. Kondo advises decluttering each category completely before stopping in order to maintain your momentum. For instance, you should plan on one weekend to focus on files and documents so you can get everything done in one fell swoop. If the whole company is going to be involved, you can treat the process like an offsite planning meeting and block out time to accomplish the task.

2. Imagine your ideal situation before you start. Do not lift a finger until you take some time to think about how you want your business or life to look like when the process is finished. What do you hope to gain by decluttering? Perhaps you want your business to be more successful, more efficient, more fun for you to manage, or be a happier place for employees. The Marie Kondo Method emphasizes being mindful, introspective and forward-looking. By pre-identifying your goals, you will be better able to focus when you start decluttering.

3. Tidy by category, not location. Most of us organize and declutter based on location. For example, cleaning a single desk or file cabinet. Instead, declutter all desks or all file cabinets at the same time. At home, this could mean piling all your clothing no matter the location on the bed. Whether you normally keep clothing in the hall closet, the bedroom closet, the garage, or whatever, it all goes on the bed before you begin the process of organizing. For a business, it could mean going through all your office equipment first and then all your paper documents, then office supplies, etc.

4. Finish discarding first. In the middle of decluttering, you may get inspired to set up a new organizational system. However, you must wait until the whole decluttering process is done before organizing what is left.

5. Start with the easiest category. Begin decluttering with a category that is easy for you to make decisions about. For example, at home Kondo says to declutter clothes first and then sentimental items (the hardest to let go of). In your business, the easiest for you could be starting with paper documents and tackle more challenging areas such as business processes last. This will get you used to her method, let you move faster and give you a sense of accomplishment.

6. Keep what sparks joy. As you begin the declutter process, KonMari instructs that you hold each item in your hands and ask yourself, “Does this spark joy?” Don’t overthink it, go with your first instinct. In the average office for items such as staplers or file folders, ask if it is necessary to help you accomplish a task. If so, then do not keep more than you need. If a drawer is crammed with file folders, keep those that spark joy, like the colorful ones, and get rid of any old, worn-out brown ones. KonMari also suggests that you “thank” each item before discarding. Even though you do not need the item, it was useful at one time and therefore deserves a moment of appreciation.

Organizing a business is not just about cleaning out supplies. Gregg Schwartz, Director of Sales @ Strategic Sales & Marketing has these suggestions on how to apply the KonMari method in reevaluating his sales process and client list.

1. Declutter your client list. One of the biggest mistakes many solopreneurs and small business owners make is believing they need to go after every single client and chase down every last dollar. The truth is, not every customer is right for you. Everyone has clients who take up too much time and energy for too little reward. Do your clients spark joy or drag you down? If you can get better at getting rid of clients who aren’t quite the right fit, or who take up more energy than they’re worth, you will have more energy to deepen relationships with your best clients—plus you’ll have more fun and make more money, too!

2. Tidy up your sales process. Are you using outdated brochures? Are there steps in your sales process that have much lower conversion rates? Are you satisfied with your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system or would you be open to trying new, simpler software? Is there a sales conference or trade show you always exhibit at, just out of a sense of tradition, even though you’re not getting the results you hope for? Is there a part of your sales process that feels clunky or outdated, but you keep doing it “because that is how it’s always been done”, or just easier not to plan for a change?

Just as Marie Kondo brings order to a cluttered home, you can improve your sales process to run more smoothly. Go back to first principles: If you had to design your sales funnel today for the first time, starting from zero, what would it look like? How long has it been since you updated sales-call scripts, company mission statement, or elevator pitch? You would be surprised at the amount of antiquated jargon that can creep into your sales pitch over the years if you don’t make the effort to update.

3. Achieve clarity on big-picture goals. Give yourself a timeline with specific deadlines to work on a few crucial big-picture actions. For example, end an association with three under-performing clients, edit and revise sales demo, or write a new sales or elevator pitch.

4. Practice gratitude. Marie Kondo teaches her clients to say “thanks” to every discarded item. Even if you no longer want the item, it served you well and deserves gratitude. This is a constructive attitude in business. Whether you are cutting ties with a client, getting rid of an outdated brochure, or changing some aspect of how you do business, remember to be grateful for what you have discarded and thankful for new opportunities. A client who is thanked may turn into a future source of referrals. Gratitude can help you stay focused and energized through the ups and downs of running your company.

5. Find joy in your business. Marie Kondo has tapped into a widespread longing for simplicity and order. People often feel overwhelmed with the amount of clutter and material possessions in their everyday life. Business-owners also can feel overwhelmed, by the sheer volume of communications, decisions and strategic options they deal with every day. Aiming for of minimalism helps get the most value and enjoyment out of every client relationship and every facet of your business, you can create a simpler, better-performing business that will hopefully “spark joy” and generate big profits for many years to come.

About Ellen Tuchman Rothmann

Ellen Rothmann has 30 years of experience in sales and marketing and utilizes these skills to support and facilitate seminars for Tuchman Advisory Group (TAG). Prior to her role with TAG, she was VP of Operations for Richard Wolffer’s Auctions that specialized in sports and entertainment memorabilia. As an Account Manager for K101 – a San Francisco Bay Area radio station – she worked with small businesses to build unique and profitable advertising and promotional campaigns for her clients. Growing up in the dry cleaning business, Ellen worked in numerous capacities at Tuchman Cleaners. She also held sales positions at Apparelmaster and Tuchman Cleaner’s Home Carpet and Drapery businesses. Rothmann earned her B.A. in Marketing from Indiana University. She lives in San Francisco with her husband John, they have two sons For more information contact Ellen Tuchman Rothmann, President, Tuchman Advisory Group. e-mail: ellenrothmann@yahoo.com