Conduct a Business Health Check-Up
August 27, 2020 | Education
This year, if one thing’s been constant, it’s change.
If you’re in the fortunate position to be righting your ship toward the end of 2020, it’s a good time to take stock of the different areas of your business and make sure that you’re still operating to the highest standard—even as you’ve been hectically writing and rewriting your plans.
Do a financial check-up
You’ve probably been thinking about nothing else but your finances for the past few months and have a good idea about how viable your business is over the next year.
If you don’t feel like you have the full picture yet, you might also like to try some basic inventory-taking:
- Do some ratio analysis, to see how your business has been doing compared to previous years. Your ratio analysis should also look at your working capital. Have your requirements changed this year? Can you compare it to the industry norms?
- Review the position of any lines of credit or loans. Could you get them cheaper or with more favorable terms?
- Check the sales volume of your products or product lines. Are they generally rising or falling? If you have product lines that bring in money but are falling year-on-year, consider whether it’d be appropriate to replace them or let them go.
- Look at the gross margins of all of your product lines. Do you have specific operating inefficiencies that are letting you down?
Do a brand check-up
Our brands live in the minds of both our internal and external stakeholders. Our messaging can get diluted as we bring in more people who each have unique perspectives. Try these tests to see whether your original messaging is still hitting home.
- Survey people within your organization informally. Can everyone at your organization define what the brand stands for in a couple of sentences? Is it consistent across teams?
- If you have face time with your customers, ask them if they can define what your brand means to them. Is it the same key messaging as your employees?
- Take materials from lots of different touchpoints—a website page, a poster, an ad, some social media posts. If you remove your logo, does the visual brand look consistent? Does the tone match up?
- When you look at all of these elements together, does it paint the picture you had intended? Is it strong enough to guide your business strategy? Is it who you want to be?
When you’ve asked these more ‘big picture’ questions and are happy with the alignment of your brand, you might like to go on and conduct a marketing audit:
- Revisit or recreate your customer personas to get a sense of whether your messaging is appealing to your target audience, and if you’re trying to reach them in the right place.
- Update your competition matrix. Plotting and comparing solutions in a competitive matrix gives you insight into where you are in the playing field and whether you have enough of a point of differentiation to breakthrough.
- Deep dive into your website analytics. Are there any opportunities for CRO and UX optimization?
- Analyze social media metrics to determine whether you’re reaching the right people on the right platform.
Do an operations check-up
With so much focus on remote working over the past six months, you might like to consider what your overall vision is for your ideal work system of the future and what kind of resources and assets you might need to make it a reality. For more information on that, try the Harvard Review’s explanation of future-back thinking in the workplace. You should also try a simple review of where you are now:
- Review your organizational chart and budgets. Is there congruence between where you’re focusing your resources and your organization’s strategic plan?
- Talk to your employees to find out whether the technology you’re using covers the full scope of your needs.
- Discuss with your team the capacity of your current facility compared to existing and forecast demand.
- Have an expert review your data security practices. Remember, if you have contact with clients or customers in the EU, you need to be GDPR compliant, too.
- Ask managers to conduct a systems review with each team member and deal with small glitches head-on. Is your marketing person inputting data manually? Are your shared folders out of control? Those hiccups seem small but can suck morale out of a company.
- Think about your relationship with your suppliers. Are they working hard to keep your business? Are they responsive, competitively priced, and delivering great service?
If you’re B2B, and are uncertain about your customer journey, a great tip is to ask a few people in your circle to purchase an item from you. Is the process as slick as it could be? Were they thanked in a timely manner? Did they get the right information and tracking? Were they then put into a CRM funnel that makes sense? Check-in with them again a couple of months later and ask them how often they heard from your company.
Do an employee check-up
You might have had to say goodbye to some team members this year, or maybe you’re training an influx of new people since restrictions have started to lift. Fit Small Business has created a thorough HR compliance check-list. Here are some of the basics:
- Make sure that every employee has a contract with equitable terms, especially if things have changed a lot since you hired your first person. Do you have contractors working with you who you’re treating like employees? Ratify the scope of those relationships so that they won’t get you in trouble with the IRS.
- Do an anonymous employee satisfaction survey to track the mood, morale, and motivation of all staff.
- Look at your hiring practices. Are you making sure to post roles in places where you’ll find a diverse field of candidates? Is the language non-discriminatory?
- Check whether you’re overdue for health and safety training, sexual harassment training, and diversity and inclusion training.
- Make sure all of your policies are clear and unambiguous.
- Meet with managers to review team performance. Is everyone on the team at the right level? Do people know what’s expected of them? Are there gaps in learning and development?
Give yourself and your team some time to reflect on your vision, and if there are ways you can achieve it with better quality and efficiency. Check-in with your clients or customers to see how they feel about your company’s prices, its quality, and service. It’s a good time to take heed of everything you’ve achieved in this tumultuous year, and figure out how to move forward from a strong base.
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