What are you doing today to improve your business? Are you so busy operating the business that you are not moving forward and making improvements? You must be proactive to get results.
Here are five ways to improve the performance of your business.
Step outside your comfort zone
Your business may be running smoothly, but has become stagnant and is not reaching its true potential. You may have become complacent and settled into a comfortable routine. To improve and grow, you have to shake things up. Is your own trepidation stopping you from taking action?
You may have to step outside your comfort zone and take some risks to make things happen. Remember, “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are for,” (a quote often attributed to John Shedd).
Learn a new skill
You should of course be taking action to improve your business, but when was the last time you did something to improve yourself? Are you truly aware of your strengths and weaknesses as the leader of your business? Take an honest look at yourself and identify your own weaknesses that affect your business’s performance. Are there local continuing education classes you could take to learn a new skill? Are there online classes you could take? Do you have a mentor that can help you learn a new skill?
SWOT your competitors
Conducting a SWOT analysis on their business helps owners develop strategies for improvement. SWOT is Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. An internal analysis looks at strengths and weaknesses of the business. An external analysis looks at opportunities and threats.
Have you ever conducted a SWOT analysis on your competitors? This is a valuable tool for evaluating your competitive environment. Based on this, you can develop ways to deal with your competitors’ strengths and capitalize on their weaknesses. You become better prepared for threats your competitors pose and for taking advantage of the opportunities they create.
Set goals and measure performance
Have you identified goals for your business that are essential to success? The answer to this question varies from business to business and may include things such as number of sales calls or customer retention rate. But identifying and setting goals is only part of the process.
You must track and measure performance to impact your business. Measurement of performance leads to improvement because what gets measured gets done. If you are not measuring and managing performance, your business will suffer.
Develop an exit plan
It is difficult to think about getting yourself out of business, especially if you have recently started. Even if you have been in business for a while, you are likely to be focusing on increasing sales and keeping the business open, not on someday exiting the business.
But you need to think about how you want to eventually exit your business. For example, do you plan to sell your business at some point? To an outsider, or maybe an employee? Are you getting processes and systems in place to improve the value of the business and prepare it for sale?
Are you helping an employee prepare for buying and leading the business? Or are you planning to pass the business on to a family member?
It may sound strange to use an exit plan to improve your business, but the process of developing an exit plan leads to a long range vision and strategy with specific goals for development and growth, and this can improve operations and performance. Even if you just want to eventually close your business and retire, there are still business and personal financial goals you will want to reach before shutting down.
One More Thing
You may identify ways to improve by having a fresh set of eyes take a look at your business. There are resources available offering skilled, experienced consultants who can take a look at your business from the “outside” and provide a fresh perspective. One of these resources is your local Small Business Development Center, which may be found at www.georgiasbdc.org.
Connie Edwards is a Business Consultant with The University of Georgia Small Business Development Center. She may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.