How to review your business

How to review your business

End of year business review

 

The start of a new year is a good time to sit back and review your small business to see what went well and what areas need improvement.

Here are a few ideas of what to review for your small business to see what changes you may need to make next year.

Marketing

What did you spend on your marketing and what return did you get as a direct result?  If you don’t have any system in place for measuring your marketing efforts, then put some in place now.  If you can’t measure your efforts, you could be throwing away good money on something that simply doesn’t work or could be missing a golden opportunity where a low-cost campaign is gaining you higher than average sales.

Review your marketing message.  Is it still connecting with your ideal customer or has your business changed direction in any way and your message needs tweaking to reflect these changes?

Is your website attracting the traffic you want?  Where are website visitors coming from and how long do they spend on your site and what pages do they visit the most?  Google analytics has all this information (and a lot more) so use it.

If any of your marketing isn’t working, stop doing it and focus your efforts elsewhere.  Don’t just blindly follow the crowd because everyone is doing something.  Facebook is a great example of this.  Everyone feels they must be doing it but for some, they are simply not getting any results yet spend hours each day in a vain hope of attracting attention.  Maybe your efforts would be best spent elsewhere such as using Pinterest, Instagram (just take a look at the Body Coach who has built his whole business on this platform) or LinkedIn.

Are there any new marketing avenues that you want to try such as public speaking, running workshops, attending networking events or a direct mail campaign.  Have a review to see what else may bring results for your business.

 

Systems and Process

What systems do you have in place to help streamline your business and save you time and money?  If you don’t have any consider setting some up for the New Year.  And if you already have something in place, is it still working or could it be improved.  From financial software to Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Systems, these can be lifesavers for a small business.  I use FreeAgent for looking after my finances and the time and stress it has saved me has far outweighed the £20 per month investment.  I also use Capsule CRM to keep me up to date with following up prospects and keeping in touch with clients and would simply be lost without it.

I have my own time management system for controlling my diary and setting the most important and urgent tasks each day and since implementing this, my working day is far less stressful and far more work gets done.

 

Outsourcing and staffing

Are you still doing mundane but important tasks that would be better served from outsourcing to someone else?  Could someone else do these tasks in a fraction of the time it takes you which will save you stress, get the job done to a better standard and free up your time for working on the core area of your business to make more money?  You don’t need to go full hog and employ someone on a full-time basis.  You could simply outsource certain tasks as and when required.

On the other hand, if you are already outsourcing or employing staff, are they up to the standard you require.  Take stock and make sure any initial high standards haven’t slipped and make any changes if necessary.  Don’t continue to spend money on staff and outworkers if they are no longer a use to the business or providing some real benefit.

 

Suppliers

Have a review of your current suppliers.  Are you getting a good deal or could you shop around to find something better for your business?  Are they still delivering on their promises or does the service level agreement between you need re-addressing?

 

Clients

Do you love the clients and customers you are working with or do some of them give you sleepless nights?  One of the benefits of running your own business is that you can decide who you work with and who you don’t.  If you have any particularly difficult clients that you dread working with, politely but firmly, release them from your services.  These people can be such an energy drain on you personally and be letting them go, you can have more energy and enthusiasm to work with those people who value and appreciate what you do.

 

Finances

Having a review of the finances is so important and should be done on a monthly basis but if you haven’t been doing this, take time to have a good look now.  Are there any unnecessary costs that could be cut altogether where you have signed up for things that you no longer use or others that could be renegotiated such as insurance or phone charges.  Are there any ways that you could save on tax?  Go speak to your accountant and make sure you are not wasting any hard earned money.

 

Pricing

Are your prices right or do you need to adjust them?  If you offer a service and are fully booked with clients (firstly well done) could you implement an increase in your pricing strategy?  Just a small increase in pricing can generate much higher profits if combined with cutting costs where possible as above.

 

Products and services

Don’t let your products and services get stale.  Do any need changing or could you add something new to your business to keep interest alive in what you do and to attract new clients and more sales?  Do some research and see what your current customers and clients might like.

 

Market Trends

This is so often missed on a business review list but is so important.  What is happening in your chosen industry?  What trends are happening?  Are there any upcoming legislations that might affect what you do or new competitors coming into the market?   Don’t bury your head in the sand and get left behind with any new technology, trends or changes in the market.  Do your research, keep your knowledge updated and stay ahead of the game.

 

External help and support

Are you still spending hours, days and weeks trying to figure things out on your own?  Is this the right time to invest in yourself and your business to get someone to help drive your business forward who has the necessary experience to save you time and money.  Too often we think we can’t afford to hire a coach or mentor but look at it this way – if you spent £2,000 on a coach but this help brought you in £10,000, would it be worth it?

 

Business planning

Review your business over the past year as part of updating your business plan.  Keep doing and improving what is doing well and stop anything that is not working.  Revisit your business plan and look at your sales income against your start of year forecasts.  If you did not meet your forecasted figures, look at what you can do to fill this gap over the next 12 months.  Get help if you need it to take a serious review of your current business and to find ways to make next year your best year ever.


 

 P.S.  If you really are serious about making next year your best ever, come join my private member’s club where you will get all the resources and personal support to achieve all that you want.

P.P.S.  As a member you will also get access to my full Business Building Bundle on How to review your business along with a workbook that will really get you focused and ready to forge ahead to success in the New Year.

End of year review

Why market research is important if you want your small business to be successful

Why market research is important if you want your small business to be successful

All about Market Research

So many people start up a business without doing any market research.  They then wonder why their product or service does not get the sales they were expecting and ultimately, why their business is failing.  Read on to find out why market research is important for your business and why by doing it you will have a better chance of success.

 

Why market research is important if you want your small business to be successful

Unfortunately, many small business owners disregard the importance of market research. It is all too common for small business owners to ignore market research altogether and to base their business idea on their own assumptions.  All too often, this results in the business failing which could have been avoided by doing some basic research.

 

The Danger of Assumptions

Many small business owners assume that they understand what their customers want and what motivates them to buy. But relying on assumptions is a dangerous game.  I have met all too many business owners who think that by creating a similar product at a lower price point, buyers will flock to them.  This is not always the case and has proven to be a downfall for far too many.

You need to find out how to connect with your target market and understand their needs and buying habits. You need to understand why your target market buy what they do (and rarely is it price!), why they choose one supplier over another and what would motivate them to move to a new supplier should one enter the market (you!)

Go out there and get cold, hard facts and figures, not just base your business on loose guesses.  This will then give you a competitive advantage when entering the market.  The more you can find out about how much demand there will be for your product or service, who is likely to buy it, what they will pay and what your competitors are doing the better chance you have of creating something successful.

 

Market research will help you:

  • Test the viability of your business idea
  • Who your ideal customers are (your target market)
  • Will these customers buy from you and how much will they pay
  • What the market trends are in your industry
  • Find out who your prospective customers buy from already (your competitors)
  • What your competitors are doing well, doing badly and what they are charging (competitor analysis)

 

You need to plan your market research carefully to get the answers you need and you also need to allow time to carry it out.

And if you don’t get the answers you were hoping for, this does not necessarily mean that your business idea will fail.  It just means that you may need to adapt your product or service to suit the needs of your target market.  I started up my business consultancy but a lot of the women I met who needed my help couldn’t afford my hourly rate.  That is when I decided to start up my on-line advice which was more affordable for them and gave them access to a lot of the advice they needed.

On the other hand, please do not bury your head in the sand and ignore the results of market research if you don’t hear what you want to.  Too many small business owners get personally attached to their idea and refuse to listen to the evidence in front of them.

Now you know why market research is important, it is essential to remain objective when carrying out the research and to use the results to plan the most effective way to give your business the best chance of success.