It is easy to get into a routine and watch the days pass without adding value however it is those who have the self-control and willingness to improve that will succeed. Below are a few simple questions that I ask myself, in regards to my business, to prompt conversations and start to analyze key components of our business. By asking yourself and your management team these simple questions, you can be sure you start the year off with a bang.
What would have I done differently in my business this year?
Whether you made a large financial error or missed a great opportunity, it is important to acknowledge your mistakes and learn from them. Did you burn your marketing budget on expensive mass marketing campaigns with little return? Did you invest too much in the new technology gadgets that provided little benefit? Did you miss a relationship opportunity that could have blossomed into big business returns? This exercise is not intended for you to beat yourself up or be overly critical, but it is crucial that you make note of these issues and not repeat them in the future.
What are future opportunities for my business to grow?
The business world is an ever changing market. New competitors come and ago, technology is always changing and providing new challenges and opportunities and federal, state and local laws are evolving. What was extremely profitable for you one year may cost you money the next year if you do not allow your company to adapt and change. Make note of any changes on the horizon and look at ways you can profit from the changes around you. Whether it is a market area which a competitor left available when they moved locations, a new internet marketing strategy that fits your company’s goals, or a new law that you could piggy-back on to generate more business, try to be aware of opportunities that offer low hanging fruit to pick up new business.
What is the bread and butter of our company?
Many times in business you may offer several products or services. All companies that offer multiple things have a select few things that perform better than others. Make note of what products or services that you offer create the largest cash flow stream for your business and are most profitable. It may be obvious however if your company operates on a large scale, you may not be aware of what is making you the most profit. Focusing on what makes you the most money and trying to expand and grow this while dropping of things that are not as profitable may make more sense for your company.
Taking it a step further, if you continue to narrow down what is the most profitable and try to center your company around this may help you create a niche that you can dominate. With all the competition in business, it is important to have a niche that you can be the best at which will help define your business.
What is the competition doing to expand their business?
Being a small to medium sized business, you do the best you can with the resources you have. You might not have the budget, staffing or resources to try new ideas or to keep up with changes in your business environment. The best way to overcome this small business challenge is to analyze what the competition is doing. There is always another player in the market that is going to be more innovative, creative, and daring than you are. Take a look at the big players in the game and make note of what marketing they are doing, what products they are offering and what similar strategies might work for your business. Using these industry best practices, you might be able to benefit from the competition’s large marketing budget.
In summary, the ending of a year opens the opportunity for you to review mistakes and opportunities that you can learn from. Once you take the time to talk through some of these crucial business questions, be sure to make a plan to implement changes and business goals to redirect your company to be successful and profitable in the New Year.