Fine tuning your business

We are half way through the year.  How is your business going? What have you achieved so far? What challenges have you overcome and what are you proud of? What do you want to achieve for the rest of the year?

We regularly check our bank balance and our business stock and resources, we put fuel in our vehicles and make sure the engine is properly tuned yet how often do we stop and review our business progress.

I often hear business owners and leaders complain about being too busy and not having enough time for the important things – what can be more important than making sure our business does not run out of fuel!

We need to be constantly reviewing our plans and if necessary fine tuning them to get maximum performance, just as we would with an engine.

We need to be constantly demonstrating our care of our people.  We need to make sure they are properly trained and supported and that they are fully engaged as active team members. Disengaged staff cost us a lot of money!

We need to be treating every customer as special – we want a whole army of raving fans out there telling others what a wonderful business we are.

We need to ensure that our business systems and processes are up-to-date and fit for purpose – businesses waste an enormous amount of money on propping up systems which are way past their sell-buy date and which no longer add value to the business.

We need to make sure that we are leading from the bridge and that we have a committed, engaged and capable team in the engine room!

It is time to take stock of our business progress in 2016.  We need to pull back from the day to day activities of making money and engage in some reflection on how we are making money!  Are we working harder and harder doing longer and longer hours or are we working smarter?

We can only work smarter if we have created some clear plans in the first place – we need to know where we are going and what it will take to get there.

Follow this 6-point plan to help you review business progress at this mid-point of the year.

  1. Ask your staff to identify what they feel has been achieved so far this year

Our staff probably think much more about the business than we give them credit for.  They are at the sharp end and they see what is happening and what could happen.  We often take them for granted and just don’t ask them for their opinions.

  1. Find out what is worrying or challenging your staff at the moment

This is not about encouraging people to moan and complain but unless we really know what is causing problems or challenges for the workforce then we can never find ways of improving things.  We need to engage all our people in a culture of continuous improvement.

  1. Go out and actively seek feedback from your customers and suppliers – what do they like or dislike about your business?

In my experience customers love being asked what they think and it gives out the message that you care about their opinions – after all they do pay your bills!

  1. Write down your own feelings about your business so far this year. What are you proud of and what disappoints you?

Don’t fall into the trap of asking everyone else but forgetting yourself – you might find it useful to talk to a colleague or friend or mentor.  Not talking is not an option!

  1. Think about all this feedback. What is it telling you?  What changes, if any, do you need to make to your plans for the rest of the year?

All feedback, however painful it is to hear, is a gift in that it gives us a chance to put things right but we have to be receptive to feedback and to the comments of others who may well see our business differently to ourselves.

  1. Let people know what you have decided – get them on board!!

Smart business leaders engage people in their business journey and make twists and turns in that journey when it is necessary.  They are aware, reflective and future focussed.

By using this simple 6 step process twice a year you will be more likely to have a fine tuned business that runs efficiently and smoothly in most conditions.

Chris Elphick is Director of Learn.fast Pacific, supporting the development of a range of businesses and organisations in Vanuatu and other Pacific countries.  He is an experienced business mentor and has years of experience of working with Small & Medium Enterprises.  He works in Vanuatu as a mentor, coach and trainer.

If you have a business issue for Chris to comment on please contact him at [email protected]