Giving your business a thorough evaluation before setting goals for a new quarter, or a new year, is a great way to understand your business goals, growing pains, and weakness before setting new expectations. You may have surpassed expectations the following year, in which case it’s time to raise the bar. On the other hand, your business may have also encountered some areas where there were unexpected struggles. In any case, taking a pulse on previous trends will give you an idea of what to anticipate for the next season of your business. Here are 10 areas to consider as you’re planning for the future of your business:
- Review your previous goals and priorities. Take a look at your goals and accomplishments from the previous year or quarter. Whether it was oriented around acquisition, company growth, or new campaign strategies, understanding the success rate of those tactics will help determine any adjustments for future planning. The bar may need to be raised or lowered depending on what you find, but no matter what, be sure to set realistic goals and expectations that your team can meet.
- Understand your pain points and determine next steps. Evaluating the weaknesses of your business is essential to building a strong business model. Though it is not as uplifting as praising the strengths, it is equally, if not more, important. By pinpointing your weaknesses you can anticipate when and how they will hit in the new quarter and put strategies in place to eliminate them.
- Perfect your positioning statement and mission. Your positioning is “the story” and differentiator of your business, or how your customers see you compared to the rest of the market. When you initially developed your positioning strategy there were likely many variables to your business that were unknown - how you stacked up compared to the rest of the competition, how customers perceived your business, and which products were favored more than others. Now, as another quarter has passed, you should have more research to work from when it comes to the angle of your positioning. In addition to your positioning, does your original mission still hold true? These two go hand in hand. Once you’ve decided on a new course of action, filling in the creative for the year will come next - planning any marketing materials or additional campaigns that will push your business to the top of your market.
- Explore new opportunities. With the theme of “a fresh start” on many consumers’ and business owners’ minds, it’s natural to start thinking about adding a new product line to your fleet of commodities and services. Before expanding your products or services, estimate the overall cost this new venture will take out of your budget, potential return on investment, and whether you can afford it combined with your overhead cost and current expenses. In the long run, the new addition could bring more revenue through your doors, but getting production started and the logistics figured out can take a lot of resources – both time and money.
- Check your numbers. They say the devil is in the details, and unfortunately, this is very true when it comes to reviewing the numbers and stats from the current or previous year. By evaluating your budget, performance of products, and overhead cost from year to year you can identify trends to help you predict high and low seasons. While this will not be 100 percent accurate, it can help you predict low points in the year for cash flow and rate of business during each season. From there you should be able to finalize your financial goals and expectations for a new fiscal year or quarter.
- Reward success. Showing employee appreciation is something that can easily get put on the back burner of a busy mind. However the smallest gestures of appreciation can help you retain the superstars on your team. After all, good employees are key in every business. Determine new ways to recognize your hard working employees with a staff party, a company present, or even something as small as a gift card. That being said, sometimes verbal appreciation is what matters most.
- Back up your files and archive old ones. Saving data and documents is often written off when it comes to prepping for a new quarter. Take time to reorganize, make (digital or hard) copies, or save your past files on a hard drive to prevent loss of priceless files and information. Back up any important documents on an external hard drive in the case of ransomware or data loss.
- Stay informed. One of the many tasks of owning a business in the United States is staying in the know on the amount of government laws and regulations a business owner must abide. Keeping yourself updated on any new laws that may affect your business will prevent you from paying any unnecessary fines, fees, or even jail time. Be sure to watch out for any changes in labor laws, tax laws, social media, and workplace and safety laws.
- Evaluate your staff needs. As your business expands and adds more locations to your footprint, you may need to incorporate new staff into the fold to meet your growing needs. With the opening of a new location, or simply the need to add to your existing team at your current location, ensure there is a training plan in place and the budget to compensate new team members.
- Changes in technology. Every year there are new advances in technology that affect businesses large to small and incorporating these updates can be difficult for businesses, no matter their size. Watch for any new applications, machinery, or software that will streamline your business. It’s also important to research social media channels, website capabilities, and basic search engine optimization.
As you’re entering a new season, understanding where to take your business can seem overwhelming. Take some time to review these 10 aspects of your business to help you define success.
Need some help with the logistics? Reach out to our team and we will be happy to help you get started! Or, get started with Business Analyzer today. Simply enter the basic information on your business and we’ll help you determine the exact products and services you need to run your business more efficiently.