Every business owner needs a simple checklist that they can spend a few minutes reviewing on a regular basis (at least weekly), to make sure that their business is on track (and being on track is not just about the money).
This keeps us focused, it ensures we take action early if one part of our business is not being given the attention it deserves and it increases our chances of being successful.
1. Am I focused on where my business is heading?
From my observations most entrepreneurs share one common challenge, they are butterfly chasers. This means they are incredibly easily distracted to run after the newest opportunity or idea that happens to flutter by. Sure, the very nature of being an entrepreneur means we look for opportunities, but if you are not careful you can spend all of your time chasing new opportunities and not realizing any of the ones under your nose. So be focused on your core business and stay focused.
2. Are you on top of money that you are owed?
We all need to keep track of the money we are owed. One of the best ways to monitor this is to watch your average length of receivables. Put simply, this means how long it takes you to get your money in. If this is starting to take you could be headed for trouble.
3. Are you actively marketing your business?
Successful businesses never stop marketing. When times are good they market, when times are tough they market even more, because they understand that the marketing you do today generates the business you need tomorrow. Every business needs to be committed to business development every week, and ideally every day.
4. Are you charging enough?
From my experience many businesses simply don't charge enough. This is generally due to their own state of mind around self worth. One way to benchmark your charge out rates is by how many job you win. If you get every job you quote on, you are too cheap. If you get less than a third, you are probably too expensive. I like to sit somewhere in the middle, around the sixty percent mark, I know then that my rates are about right.
5. Are people referring others to your business?
If you are not getting referrals there could be a problem. So clearly you need to make sure you are asking people how they heard about your business and ideally, the number one reason will be they were referred by someone. It is always good to do an online search as well to see what people are saying about your business. Even if you don't like what you read, you can at least do something about it. Putting your head in a bucket is a sure fire way to failure.
6. Are you up to speed with trends in your industry?
We all need to stay abreast of what is happening within our industry. I spend at least an hour a day researching online to see what people are doing in the entrepreneurial space. It is the best hour of my day and it has huge returns.
7. Are you investing in yourself and your staff?
To put it simply, if you're not growing, you're dying. From my experience really successful entrepreneurs always invest in growing their own skills and knowledge and they do the same with their staff. This is not just a once a year retreat, this is a daily investment through books, online, time committed to exchanging skills, seminars, workshops and so on.
8. Are you contributing to your community?
Now more than ever, businesses are under scrutiny to show that they play an active role in the communities where they operate. This means stepping up and giving time and money (if you can) for good causes. And make certain that you tell your customers what you do in your community, most businesses don't do this very well.
9. Are you driving your business or is it driving you?
There's no two ways about it, being a workaholic may bring short-term success, but it is not sustainable or enjoyable. We need to have a very clear life outside of our business, one where we do the things we really enjoy doing and that recharge our batteries.