It is so easy to get bogged down in the ‘to do’ lists or action plans of every-day business. The more you do, it seems, the more there is to do. You decide to ‘just check your emails’ and before you know it, mid-morning coffee is calling. LinkedIn and Twitter should take up 20 minutes max and yet three hours later you’re still deciding whether to comment on that Pulse article about time management?! Is there anyone out there who actually ticks off ALL of their tasks each day?
If you’re serious about your business success, there is one ‘must do monthly’ strategy that is often overlooked. It was in favor several years ago, has been renamed and updated more times than Google can remember but often slips down the priority list of most managers I know. It is, of course, the business health check. I’m sticking with the health analogy because the identical thing happens in our personal lives. What is the single most important thing in your life? (Yes, I hear you say, your partner, your children, your financial security, your Audi R8……..) but there is only one right answer really; your health. Ignore it and you may be dead. Ignore the health of your business and your business may be dead. So what would I (or anyone who doesn’t know your business) say about your business?
Morning Coffee Challenge
Ask five different team members around you right now to each give you three words that sum up your business. Do it now. Grab a pen and make (another) list. Which words appear on your list? Save this for later.
Whether you’re a startup business or have been running for years, the business health check is one simple procedure that astute business leaders will never leave off their to do list. Even the ‘work ON your business and not IN your business’ disciples need to be reminded to take time to review business strategy. There are any number of online diagnostic tools and tips and you could pay a fortune for a professionally presented audit and report. But an accurate picture of your current business position doesn’t have to involve equations, formulas and questionnaires.
Regardless of the nature of your business, if you’re not doing a quick health check every month, you’re not driving your business where it should or could be. Highlighting areas of strengths and weaknesses and being objective about your business is paramount to staying relevant, current and successful.
The five main themes that any business leader needs to look at, whatever business are:
- First impressions: if it be phone, web or visual, what are you telling your customer about your business before they even start to think about engaging with you?
- It all starts at the top: the leader will determine the tone and culture of the business, so look in the mirror. Do you recognise that your team are your number one customer? If you love them, they are more likely to love the customers that pay your bills.
- Feedback: Are you getting enough feedback? How will you know what your customers really think of you? Is feedback measurement an integral part of your monthly reporting alongside your P and L?
- The service vision: Feedback can tell you how you are performing now but what do customers want in the future? What is their utopia? Innovation becomes more challenging as our business and social communication channels rapidly expand, but staying ahead of the field is where your customers will expect you to be.
- Finally KISS. Keep your customer relationships simple. Too many businesses make the process of communication too complicated. We have all had the recorded messages and hours on hold with major corporations. We have all received mixed messages and poor communication from our local suppliers. Can your customers find you and speak to you when they need to?
So take a look at the list of 15 or so words that you have on your desk right now from your Morning Coffee Challenge. These 15 words sum up your business from an internal perspective. Hopefully they are positive and professional. Now ask an external team, perhaps some existing or potential customers or a customer feedback professional (we have the tools at the ready!) and when you have your feedback compare the two lists.
Probably only one in ten of you will find the words are similar. How big is the mismatch? And how honest do you want to be with yourself, your team and your business vision. What would the customer say about your business? If you don’t ask, how can you ever truly know.