This is the final part of my 4-part serious on spring-cleaning and taking stock of your business.
Here, I’m going to be focusing with my team of expert contributors, on our top tips for successfully taking stock of your business and what is helpful for moving forward. (You can find the other parts to this series, covering why and how you should review your business and what to prioritise, on merlie.co.uk)
So what are our top-tips?
There are 15 of them. Here are the first 5:
1. Take stock regularly and be honest with yourself about what you learn
2. Clean up & be smarter, with data so when you’re reviewing and planning for your business, you can be confident you’re relying on your real position and you’re not missing anything/anyone crucial
Wherever you can go paperless and back up everything digital; collect and analyse as much quality data about your business, your customers, your competition and the market, it will keep you on track and well-positioned to pursue new ideas/opportunities, able to replicate what clearly worked previously and discard things that evidently didn’t
3. Always be conservative on your financials, always include a worst-case scenario when doing cash and costs projections. If you can still make a business work on paper in pretty adverse situations, you can expect success; after that, it’s just a matter of degrees…
4. Act promptly where things need to improve, to change, or there’s a good opportunity
5. Find and use good resources and be focused on them, this is an area where you shouldn’t dilute your time / resource, quality is everything
Ready for the next tranche?
6. Take advice having one or more business mentors is highly valuable – you can often find your own and not have to pay someone. Just make sure that it’s someone suitable and unbiased, who is sufficiently experienced to be able to offer you valuable observations and suggestions
7. Find your tribe and keep connected Network, you can’t attend and read everything, but between you and your network, you can get the key things covered, and share the learnings; meet regularly, collaborate where it makes sense (to share costs, to exchange mutually helpful skills, etc.); make sure your contacts are all collated in a decent database/CRM system
8. Stay current make sure all your materials are up to date, including the legal ones; read current business news as often as you can – social media, used wisely, can be a great source of news, ideas and inspiration, as well as useful connections and new leads; go to meet-ups and network events – don’t stop learning or meeting people
9. Embrace project management tools like Basecamp or Asana will ensure your to-do lists are getting done; Trello is helpful for lists. Appointedd is fantastic for diary management and CRM
10. Make success a team responsibility (where you have a team!) – get everyone looking for what it will take to keep you on top of your game; there’s no monopoly on ideas or information, and make sure you take the time to hear what your team is reading and thinking
11. Develop rough prototypes/concepts and test before committing to full-scale build and production;
12. Check compliance with legal and regulatory requirements, from web-site disclaimers and policies to terms and conditions, employee matters and reporting or financial requirements
13. Monitor and grow your profile set up Google Alerts for your URL and business name online so that when you’re mentioned, you know about it and can act to make the most of it; if you’re a local business, check out helpful tools like Google My Business and make sure your Google Maps listing is clear so your local customers can easily find you
Consider using your content better and harnessing tools like Passle to make content marketing and social selling simple, affordable and efficient
14. Bills and invoices get your invoices out promptly, don’t tolerate late payers and make sure your terms and conditions give you the right protections to take action where you’re owed money; avoid giving freebies, especially where they take up a lot of your time to deliver
15. Believe, because after all, running a business is special. It takes a special courage, inner strength, tenacity and vision. You’ve got this. So give yourself permission to believe in what comes next.
Huge thanks to all my expert contributors to this series.