Every business, like any house, can do with a good spring clean. In this article we look at six of the more pressing issues that require your immediate attention.
It’s that time of the year where your better half starts scratching around the house. Yes, everything needs to be moved, cleansed from the dust and grime accumulated over a winter of discontent.
The demons of apathy, lethargy and melancholy – exorcised by a wave of optimism (and cleaning products) to reveal a new shine, and a new hope, for house and home. Your business requires similar attention, and these tips can help you forge a fresh path forward.
A quick recap of business sentiment
- 57% of small businesses in South Africa struggle with funding and/or cash-flow management
- 52% cite poor sales as an obstacle to growth
- 43% list sales and marketing as key areas in which they require most assistance.
These statistics come courtesy of last year’s National Small Business Chamber (NSBC) Survey – but you can bet the farm that the picture in 2016 is fairly similar, perhaps identical.
Related: 15 Super things every business owner should know
The problem is that life gets in the way of your grand plans, providing (of course) all kinds of ‘valid’ excuses as to why you have not been able to raise your head above the waves long enough to have a clear idea of how best to reach that island of your dreams.
Spring cleaning tip 1
Assess where you are on the inside
First things first: You must allow yourself some much need time to take a breath. There will always be things to do and take care of, but nothing is more important than taking stock of where you are, and where you are heading.
In order to gain some perspective and clarity of thought you have to put some mental distance between yourself and daily operations.
Spring cleaning tip 2
Where are you in relation to your business plan?
Times change and you have to adapt, yes that is true – but that does not necessarily mean that your original vision is now a thing of a past.
Compare where you are with where you wanted to be those heady nights when ‘being Branson’ filled your dreams. If the end goal is still valid then you need to decide what (realistic) steps can be taken in the next few months, or years, to bring you closer to it.
Adjust the plan if you need to but make sure you are clear about what it is you are trying to achieve.
Spring cleaning tip 3
Do you have the team to execute that business plan?
Just ask the Springbok coach, or any coach for that matter, without the right players, playing in the right positions as a team and to their strengths, in support of your (winning) game plan, you may as well start preparing those speeches about ‘learning lessons’ and ‘building for the future’.
The future is now. Think about the relevance of each role and how it contributes to your current and future plans; and then be prepared to make some tough calls. You may need to invest in more talent, re-organise your teams or scale back a little. Neither are easy decisions to make.
Related: Social marketing overview: What you need to know
Spring cleaning tip 4
Find out what your customers think of you
Sounds simple enough yet most companies do not consistently measure performance against customer expectation. Set up a survey or another response mechanism using any number of affordable (even free) options, and then ask key questions about each step of your customers’ engagement with you.
Don’t overdo it, but make sure you get a general feel of how you are perceived in terms of value, service, price and any other metric that is of value to you. Knowing why you are liked, and where you can improve, will set you up well for the next few quarters ahead. Make adjustments and then complete this cycle again.
Spring cleaning tip 5
Spruce up your online presence
Is your website optimised for a mobile world? We’re not asking if you can view it on your mobile, we’re asking if the user experience is optimised for mobile devices. There’s a big difference.
Audit your website content, is it still relevant? What do analytics say about page performance? Are you guiding site visitors effectively enough to convert into leads, or sales, or downloads; whatever your goals are?
How effective is your social media strategy and are your profile pages consistent in terms of messaging, look and feel? A connected planet lives online; make sure your first impression rocks the boat (in a good way).
Related: How to win the “moments that matter” in a mobile world
Spring cleaning tip 6
Optimise your cash flow
Company growth does not necessarily translate to better cash flow. Overall financial, operational and investment activities all need to be managed efficiently to effect real and positive change.
Strategies to consider include better client credit checks and offering discounts on outstanding loans, leasing instead of buying equipment or services, renegotiating better terms with suppliers, timeous invoicing, inventory improvement like getting rid of slow moving stock, and so on.
Fact is there’s always room for improvement. “Happiness is a positive cash flow,” as Fred Adler says.
There are, of course, other areas in your business that you may want to look at, including your actual premises and working environment, your overall company culture and employee engagement. Now is as good a time as any to reflect honestly on the reasons you went into business in the first place.
Yes, you want to make money, but life is about more than numbers and business has the potential to bring more to this world than a place for people to spend their time.
You can inspire greatness. You can shape tomorrow’s leaders. You can build a better world.
Happy Spring cleaning (your business).