You’ve done it. You have got through the sticky patch, and not only that, your business is growing. You have nice clients, a good product and employees who are performing well. Everything is ticking along nicely - nothing could possibly go wrong if you keep doing what has been working. Right?
Well, no one can predict the future. What might be working today might change tomorrow. Companies like Blockbusters and HMV, who used to be the pioneers in their industries, are now quickly becoming extinct like the dodo. The lesson here: never rest on your laurels. Always review what your business is doing and seek to improve it. The day to day is routine. The challenge is taking an objective look at your activities and looking at what works and what doesn’t. So what should you, the business owner, be looking at when you are reviewing your business.
You can start off with looking at...
This is a good place to start. Without going into too many cliches, think of this as the ‘bread and butter’ of your business. It is the main focus of what you are doing, and crucially what makes you profitable. Naturally, you will be depending on this to some degree. So understanding how your key product or service is performing should be your first port of call when it comes to reviewing your business. Ask yourself, is there anything you are doing which can be improved upon? Nothing is perfect, so we suspect you will find an aspect of your product or service which isn’t performing as well as it can. If that is the case, try and think of ways you can improve this particular product or service. You might benefit in the long run for doing so.
This is perhaps the most important thing you need to look at in terms of reviewing your business. Ask yourself, what is coming in to your business and what is going out and what is greater. How can you know this? You could actually do this quite a number of ways: take a look at your employees. Are they all performing to their maximum abilities and providing value for money? How about suppliers: are you getting the best possible terms or can you get better and cheaper terms from elsewhere? What are you doing in terms of office space? Are you renting out a fixed office? It might be better financially to use a flexible workspace. Looking at your cash flow as a task that doesn’t end, and it’s important to always be on top of it.
Never ignore your competition - ever. Let’s say that one of your competitors starts offering a product for a cheaper rate, this might result in others offering prices at a similarly competitive rate. You ignore what is happening and aren’t even aware of these widespread price reductions. You then discover that you have been pricing yourself far too high - purely because you weren’t looking at the industry as a whole. This is a scenario that you should be very keen to avoid.
Why not avoid this situation by doing an audit of your competitors? Have a look at what they are doing; how they are pricing and what keywords they are ranking for online - important for things like SEO. This should be something you are doing regularly, because you will never know when a competitor does something unexpected until they do it. Be prepared.
Marketing, it’s a big catch-all term. But most businesses will do it to some extent and much of it will not come for free. If this is you, what is your marketing spend and is it giving you the ROI (Return On Investment) that you desire? If you are using Google Adwords to rank highly for keywords and gain impressions, is this being translated into more of your products being purchased as result? Perhaps you are using a fancy CRM platform so your customers are being nurtured and updated with offers. Now, this all sounds great, but are these customers who purchased one item making repeat purchases? Look at your marketing spend - because it can be expensive. Is the money that you are investing in these various platforms paying off in more engagement and a greater return?