Looking at the bigger picture
Time flies when you're running your own business. Days can quickly turn into weeks as you focus on the day-to-day work. And sometimes you can work so hard it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture. Having a monthly checklist will ensure you keep your business on track.
This monthly checklist will help you assess the health of your business and stay in control.
1. Step back and do a financial overview
Your business won't survive unless you have a tight grip on your finances. Make sure you carefully manage:
Expenses and bills – pay quickly to ensure goodwill
Invoices – chase all late payers
Payroll – ensure all staff records are up to date
Taxes – file your returns and pay on time, every time
2. Review account statements from suppliers
Are your suppliers charging a price that’s fair? Are you still getting good value for money? If not, it might be time to look for new suppliers.
3. Review annual sales
Look at your year-on-year sales. Are you doing better than the same time last year? Are costs and profit levels where they should be? Refer to your business plan and make changes if necessary.
4. Keep a close eye on stock
If you're running a retail or manufacturing business then stock is your lifeblood. You should:
Carefully match stock levels to sales forecasts
Make special provision for perishable goods
Ensure storage is safe and secure
Work with your accountant or bookkeeper to find the optimum stock levels.
5. Make sure your customers remember you
In a crowded marketplace, customers are likely to forget your service or product, so help them remember:
Use a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) or MAS (Marketing Automation System) tool. This will help keep your customers and partners up to date with news about your business.
Use all available communication methods. For example, email newsletters are a highly effective way of keeping in touch with customers – as long as they're well written.
6. Spread the word about your business on social media
Social media can be a very effective marketing channel if you use it regularly. Make sure your blog always has fresh content, send new tweets and post on Facebook and LinkedIn.
7. Review your website traffic
Google Analytics is a tool that makes it easier to understand your website traffic. It will identify pages that are performing poorly and pages that are doing well. Ask a web developer to help you if necessary.
8. Keep on top of industry news
Set aside two hours a month to review industry news. Sites such as Bloomberg and The Financial Times are good sources to consider. If you are a consultant in the medical industry, you could set one up for ‘medical trends’ or ‘new technologies in medicine’.
9. Keep your data safe
Use cloud-based applications to store data and ensure your information is always available and automatically backed up. Relying on your hard drive leaves you vulnerable in the face of burglary, fire or natural disasters. If you use your hard drive to store data, make sure you do at least one monthly backup online or to an external device.
10. Talk to your advisors
Arrange meetings with your accountant or bookkeeper, board of directors and investors.. Review business performance for the last 30 days and last quarter to check you're on track.