It is that time of year again, a time when nearly everyone is thinking about how to make changes that will improve their lives in the coming year. The typical personal resolution will include something about health or physical fitness – eating better, losing weight, exercising and the like.
So this year, while you create your own personal resolutions, why not take some time to evaluate your business and see what aspects need a healthy fix?
Here are the top 5 ways to get your business in shape this New Year
1. Give your business an annual check-up
Just as you would see the doctor for an annual physical, it’s equally important to give your company a yearly check-up. Take some time to make sure you evaluate every aspect of your business to see if your company is on track to be successful and profitable in 2013. Take a look at the key elements of your business: your customers, your employees, your business partners, and your products.
Check your performance against benchmarks, just as you would have your blood pressure checked. Do not assume that no-news is good news. Customers and employees often go very silent just before a departure. Reach out and thank them for their support. Ask how you can improve in the New Year. Consider involving key stakeholders in your planning process. Get outside input from a trusted advisor. Use this information to set concrete, actionable goals and objectives for the New Year. Don’t coast into the New Year. Chart your course and take control of it in the first quarter.
2. Take a close look at your numbers
Although we might look healthy, sometimes looks can be deceiving. Despite looking fit, we might find that we have high cholesterol or high blood pressure, or could afford to lose a couple of pounds around the middle. The same is true for your company’s budget.
Is your revenue concentrated in a few customers? Is your marketing budget getting results? Was your sales compensation plan effective? Is your supply chain secure? Are there areas where you can ‘trim’ unnecessary expenses?
Remember, just because you have been investing dollars in a certain business strategy for years, that doesn’t mean you must continue to do so, especially if it is no longer benefiting your company. Evaluate every major expense from your General Ledger from the top down. Benchmark existing expenses to make sure you’re getting the best deal possible today. Challenge your own assumptions about what is a “necessary” and “reasonable” expense.
3. Relax and recharge
This step is simple and critical for anyone’s sanity. Everyone needs some time to recuperate, recharge and reenergize in order to do their best in their personal and professional lives. That includes you! So, make sure you are making time for yourself, and that your co-workers/employees are making time for themselves as well.
4. Let go of unhealthy habits
We all know that overeating and not getting enough sleep can be bad for your health. The same is true when it comes to unhealthy business practices that may negatively impact your company’s growth. Are you and your employees over-scheduled and spending too much time in meetings? Do you continue to do something “the way it’s always been done” despite the fact that it’s no longer as productive as it once was?
It might be time to let go of certain business habits that are slowing you and your employees down and impacting your ability to grow. Make a “stop doing list”. Try letting go of meetings that are ineffective or reports that are unread. If you don’t miss them then they were unnecessary.
5. Get a workout buddy
Accountability is important when you are trying to stick to your New Year’s resolutions. Fitness experts will always advise getting a workout buddy to motivate you to get to the gym and stick to an exercise plan. The same concept applies to sticking to your business resolutions. Hire a coach. Set up an advisory council. Share your business resolutions with your team and employees. They will hold you accountable so you cannot easily let yourself off the hook. That way you won’t have to make the same resolution in 2014.
Remember, the New Year is a great opportunity to reevaluate any shortcomings and better ourselves. We put a lot of time and effort into improving our physical self and lifestyle, so the same practices should be maintained in keeping our businesses as healthy as possible. Here’s wishing you and your business a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!
Douglas S. Brown is an academic program manager for the Online MBA degree program offered through The Malcolm Baldrige School of Business at Post University where he heads up the program’s concentrations in Entrepreneurship and Corporate Innovation. He has more than 20 years of practical experience growing and innovating companies and organizations. He also is an experienced attorney, general manager and consultant with hands-on experience in virtually every function that companies must master to grow.
Featured photo by Tax Credits