How To Improve Business Health for 2011

People are in business to make a profit, even not-for-profit organisations need to make a surplus to survive. But, just how healthy is your business? All businesses have weaknesses as well as strengths. Now is the time for you to consider your profitability (PROFIT) issues such as:

  • People Management and Culture,
  • Resources and Risk Management,
  • Operations and Systems,
  • Finance and Focus,
  • Innovation and Ideas,
  • Technology and Timeliness.

A Business Health Check can be a key part of this process; it asks some key questions about your business, highlighting areas of potential weaknesses and pointing you in the direction of relevant help and support.

Do you have enough time to do all this and keep running your business? Do you have the expertise? Well there are third party experts who can assist in your business health check and, whilst you know your business better than anyone, having more than in-house opinions and perspectives is valuable as it utilises the experience and knowledge of expert business advisors – people external to the business with a fresh perspective.

Ensure that 2011 is your healthiest year yet. To ensure you achieve your maximum profit in 2011 you need to consider the following issues and take steps to address areas where you or your business may be lacking.

People, Management and Culture

Consider the terrific people you have on board, are they performing to their full potential? Do you allow them to? Do you listen to their feedback, do you talk to them and let them know that you value them? In looking at the organisation’s operations it is also critical to understand the culture. Remember that people are flexible and require ownership of whatever they do to perform to their best abilities. Is your management structure the best for your operations? Are you working too much in your business and not on it? You have just had a holiday, but was it a really a holiday or just a catch up on lost sleep from 2010?

Keeping your valuable customers, addressing their needs and ensuring your staff are informed and motivated at all times is critical to profitable operations. Is what’s best for you also best for your customers and your staff?

Turn your vision into reality by driving your vision and strategy from the top down. Don’t keep your vision a secret, share and inform and empower your staff to help you achieve your objectives as well as their own.

Resources and Risk Management

Resources and Risk Management are both linked to your strategic business plans. Over-reaching for growth without planning is a recipe for disaster. Ensure you look at the landscape in which you operate and understand it whilst also keeping an eye out for obstacles and pitfalls. Lead through vision and strategy. One part of risk management that is sometimes overlooked is ensuring that staff take their due leave. Holidays are for a reason – we all need a break, but it also allows a separate set of eyes to view procedures and ask questions.

Make sure you arrange appropriate life, accident and incapacity insurance and formal plans to safeguard you and your families interests. Also ensure that your assets are the best and most appropriate for your business and that they are adequately insured – another important part of risk management.

Operations and Systems

Do you have an organisation chart? Do you have a clear road map for your growth and development? Are your operations clear and documented and clearly understood by all? Have you adopted a long-term view or is your emphasis still on the short-term band-aid approach? By focussing on clear operations, simple systems as well as growth and development you remove the reactive short-term approach and align your business growth initiatives to employees’ growth and customers’ needs.

Finance and Focus

Finance covers so many areas of your business and although profits from a business are a measure of success, the flow of cash in and out of a business can be said to be its lifeblood. Cashflow planning is critical to the survival and growth of any business, and even though profits are being earned, without available cash at the time it is required, a business may have to close its doors.

Have you looked at your loan structures recently? Your business valuation? Are you considering growing, acquiring or divesting? Have you done your tax planning? Have you looked at your personal finances and of those of your family? Have you considered all your future needs, your retirement, your estate? Have you incorporated your business succession into your business planning? Have you been focussed properly or even too focussed on your business? Are you being kept awake at night with business issues? These are just some more of the areas to cover in your Business Health Check.

Innovation and Ideas

In establishing and running your business you were innovative and full of ideas. Are you still being innovative and having good worthwhile ideas? Are you taking time out to ensure you know what’s going on in your industry? Or are you feeling dried up of ideas and too pushed for time to meet with other players? Taking time to consider and learn what is happening with competitors, within your industry, and globally will assist you in driving your business and achieving your desired outcomes.

Listen to your staff and remember that if they identify a problem ask them for their solution ideas – that ensures they have at least considered the whole issue.