We may not normally think of vital signs when reviewing and planning our business but what if we did? What would we notice and would it be useful?
Here are a few for each of the key business areas. Do any of these ring true for you?
- Margins are so tight that any unexpected cost or lost opportunity makes the business unprofitable.
- Your prices have been static for several years, or perhaps even reducing.
- You can’t afford to recruit extra resource even though there is too much work for the existing team
- Customers are taking longer to pay than previously
- No momentum. Each piece of business seems to consume a massive amount of energy
- Leads drop out of the pipeline very quickly
- Leads are erratic and can’t be linked to any particular marketing activity or campaign.
- You are losing out to your competition more frequently
- Order size or order frequency is falling
- You rely mostly on one or two products or services to deliver all of the revenue
- You rely on a small number of customers
- Decision making leadtimes by customers are longer than the sector average
Operations and team
- Difficulty in recruiting
- Increase in customer complaints
- More incidences of sickness or unexplained time off than before
- Teams blaming each other for slow progress or mistakes
Noticing problems can be a great way to start revitalising your business. Like vital signs, when looked at in total, they create a picture, clues to what is happening beneath the surface. Is the sympton a simple indicator which points directly to the cause of the problem – for example, the wrong marketing channel being used for the target market you want to reach or weak credit control practices meaning customers put your invoices at the bottom of the pile? Or does it point to something more deep rooted – for example, no clear plan to connect finance, marketing, sales and operations teams so that teams operate in silos, feedback loops are inactive and customers sense a lack of interest in their custom. (A little extreme, I know, but not an unlikely scenario.) What does your picture tell you?
Ignoring health issues in the hope that they go away is rarely a good idea and so it is for our businesses too. While you’re swapping the latte for a kale and apple smoothie take some time to check your business’ vital signs!
At All About Results we help SMEs to find their distinct strengths and magic and use them to grow. Typically this is a blend of facilitation, business coaching, training and project work.
For owners of small businesses, (1 – 5 people), our next business planning workshop will run on February 7th. Click below to find out more.