In economically challenging times, how do you keep focus on what really matters in your business?
From my experience, my background and from running my own businesses, I have a broad knowledge that I want to share with start-ups as you work towards the business you desire and deserve for all your hard work.
I often act as a sounding board, an additional pair of ears and eyes when talking to my clients, so what are the seven main areas that I'm having most discussions about currently?
1. Firstly, it's about vision, objectives where they are heading
Take time to connect with your purpose and what's motivating you on a day-by-day basis. Keep a focus on your short-term objectives that will help you reach your long-term goal when performed with consistency.
2. We're looking at marketing
What's pulling people towards you with interest? What's building traction for your business? Who are you trying to attract, with what message? What are the tactics your using?
Take one question at a time, identify the positive things in your marketing and see how you can build or duplicate them. Identify the not so positive things and see if they can be eliminated, changed or outsourced.
3. Is your sales process converting as many opportunities as possible into paying customers?
Looking at each step of your sales process, where are the conversion points and what are the rates of conversion? Do people immediately purchase, or do they need a few more steps first? Where do customers fall out, and how can tweaks be made for improvement? Perhaps you need to add in a few steps and build out your sales process to better develop relationships with your customers.
4. Then it's about the delivery of the promise
Otherwise known as operational excellence. How do you deliver the promise made in your sales and marketing messages? And how do/can you retain those customers? That may be within your systems and processes, or it may be other areas of operational performance such as fulfilment and logistics.
5. Knowing the real numbers in your business
Yes, you'll have your financial accounts and it's good to understand what those numbers mean, but what are the real numbers that drive the success of your business? I them call success drivers. Many of the things in your accounts will be outcomes such as turnover, margin and profit. They are outcomes of activity. Focusing on the activity that delivers those outcomes answers the question of ‘how’ and prevents surprises at the end of the year!
6. Another area to look at is data
What is the data in your business telling them about your business? Now it could be related to sales and marketing, i.e. where your customers come from, how large your customer base is, how often people come back for more… Or it could be related to the delivery of your promise, such as how many positive reviews you have, but what are the key things that you want to focus on, and understand in detail?
7. The final area, which many people feel is quite strange, is obstacles
Why do I ask you to focus on the obstacles you’re likely to face running your business? Well often when we face an obstacle it stops us from achieving what we wanted to because we bail out or we don't know how to overcome it, so we procrastinate or take a completely different path. Whereas if we focus on the obstacles and the potential solutions before they occur we can build them into the plan about getting from where we are now to where we want to be. That way it's less likely that those obstacles occur and if they do, you’re armed with the tactics to conquer them.
My aim with this article was to bring your focus back to the near time, so you feel more grounded, closer to your business’ positives and able to tackle the challenges that the current economic uncertainty brings. I hope it has been of use to you - Mike