It’s time for your annual business checkup
Performing an annual business checkup will help you focus on what is working and what is not. September is a great time to really dig into where your business is and how to finish the year off with a bang. Take stock of where your business is related to the strategic plan you have set. Checkin with your staff to find out what their input is. Review budget variances for clues to better planning.
business checkup – progress on strategic plan priorities
Whether you sat down at the end of last year and set out a formal strategic plan for 2018, or loosely set some business goals, now is a great time to check in and see how you are measuring up. Did you take on too much or set your sights too low? Can you move things into next year’s plan so you can really focus on one or two priorities that will make the difference for 2018?
Generally speaking, a strategic planning session is where you sit down with key stakeholders and discuss what your priorities are for the following year. For KISStrategies this involves making a list of everything we want to do, should do, or have to do. This is done without judgment or attachment and there are no bad ideas. This list is then sorted into projects with items relating to the same bigger goal being listed together. We then identify which items are shorter-term objectives and action steps.
At the end of this process, we may have 10 bigger projects to look at. These are then prioritized. Knowing that we can only accomplish so much in a year, we focus on the 3 to 5 top priorities for our strategic plan. Action steps are identified with due dates and responsibilities assigned.
When we check in with our plan we are looking for what has been accomplished already. We check on the progress of items still outstanding and ask if we are on track. Did we take on too much for one year? what might have interfered with our progress? What might need to be moved into the next year’s plan? This is an honest evaluation that also looks at the capacity of our resources.
business checkup – Financials and Variances
Of course, we check our financials at the end of every month and compare it to the budget we set at the beginning of the year. But now is the time to start thinking about next year’s budget. In taking a close look at revenues and expenses this year we can start to identify areas where we may be able to cut costs. Variances from budget provide information that says something happened that we didn’t expect. Dig into these areas until you have an explanation. Remember, don’t just look at expense variances, but at variances in your sales forecast as well.
business checkup – have a staff meeting to deep dive into what is working (and what is not)
These meetings, if held correctly, can be very revealing about how things are going in your business. It is important to set the stage so everyone in the room feels safe. When we hold these meetings, I generally have one of the staff facilitate the meeting. I set up some guidelines at the beginning which include that there are no bad ideas and that no one should take anything personally. I also ask people to try to offer a solution when they speak about something that is not working. We then talk about what is working and not working relative to our physical space, our equipment and technology, our support staff and sales staff, and finally our owner/manager – me. This meeting is a great preamble to a strategic planning meeting.
business checkup – what are you tolerating in your business
Sometimes we get so caught up in our day to day that we end up tolerating things in our business that we should just deal with. These are the things that cause frustration on a day to day basis.
For example, you receive a shipment from a supplier and the cost of items frustrates you every time. You think, “based on the business we give these guys we should get better pricing”. Then you get involved with another task and forget about it until the next time you receive a shipment. Instead, stop and either assign someone to look into better prices or get on the phone and speak with them yourself. How often do you research your costs to see if you can get the goods or services for less somewhere else?
Perhaps you have an employee who is not performing at the level you’d like. What are you doing about this? Are you tolerating it? Is there a client or customer that causes nothing but grief every time you deal with them? It’s okay to “fire” a client.
The more you pay attention to what is happening in your business, the more control you will have over your results. Remember the Pareto Principal, 20% of your actions will yield 80% of your results so focus on the 20%. You might also enjoy