We business owners often get so buried in the day to day, that we forget the myriad of essential building blocks required to be kept in check, in order to create, build, maintain and ultimately sell a business.
It can be a real challenge to keep all of the plates spinning, regardless of the size or stage of the business. In addition, you might be juggling where you are at.
What we can be fairly sure of however, is that business is tough.
Here is a rough overview of the key areas that I feel are critical to regularly review and audit, to ensure that progress is being made.
These 10 focus areas might be utilised whether you simply have an idea, are a start-up, have a going concern or indeed considering selling and/or a succession plan for the business’s next chapter.
It’s ideal if a business is saleable on any given day, as the sale process is usually not straight forward.
But even if you’re not planning to sell your business right now, asking the following questions and many more within each area, will provide some good outcomes to help achieve daily and long-term value in what you do.
1. Value proposition
- What is our business’ value proposition? Is it unique?
- How are we differentiated from the competition?
- Can we refine it for an ‘elevator pitch’?
2. Asset Creation
- Are we clear about what are our tangible and intangible assets?
- Do we have a strong brand?
- What’s our offer?
- Do we have quality, long-term customers and how close are we to them?
- Do we have the right audience?
- What are our revenue streams?
- What content can we offer that others can’t?
- What’s unique about us?
- What do others value about us?
- Do we have the right platforms in place and the right systems architecture across the business?
- How are we innovating?
- Have we done UX testing?
- What does the rapid advancement of AI, IoT and related fields mean for us?
- How are the relationships with our colleagues, customers/clients, (strategic) partners, distributors and other stakeholders?
- Who do we need to be speaking with?
- Who would we like to be speaking with?
- Do we have a ‘community’?
- Who are our ‘distributors’?
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- How is our budgeting and forecasting looking?
- Is the P&L in good shape?
- Where are the gaps?
- How are our people performing and do we have the best processes in place?
- Is the business structure working?
- Are we transitioning and if so, what to, why and when?
6. Marketing & Communications
- What are our activities?
- Do we have an Action Plan?
- Are these activities working?
- What research is currently underway or being analysed?
- Are we looking at Marketing Automation and what that can assist us with?
- Do we have a single view of the customer amongst all of our data?
- Do we utilise customer segmentation?
- What’s the customer journey?
- What’s the ROI?
7. Succession or Exit Planning
- Are we in a position to sell today? If not, why not?
- Who is on our list of potential buyers?
- What’s our plan and timetable?
- Do we have a ‘blackbox’ of future potential?
8. Capital and Resources
- Do we know what we require, why we need it and how we can provide it?
9. Guidelines (Governance) and Pitfall (Risk) Avoidance
- What must go right?
- What are those things that we know we need to look out for?
- What have we learned?
- Do we have a Plan B?
10. To bring it all together for you
- Do I have a clear purpose with what I’m involved with?
- Does the business have a clear purpose?
- Am I resilient and do I have a plan to ensure ongoing resilience?
- Is the business resilient?
- Am I or are we investing to ensure that there is indeed a sound future for the business?
- Do I need someone independent to help guide things and keep moving forward?
When you have time, it’s a good exercise to answer these questions to get clarity for you and your business. Once you step back and recognise any gaps, it’s a good idea to put your Action Plan in place. Always be learning also, listen to podcasts to motivate you such as Tim Feriss Masters of Scale and How I Built This with Guy Raz, along with Audiobooks like Good to Great (written and narrated by Jim Collins).
Good luck out there! Go get ’em!
This blog is written by Richard Poole, a business coach at The Icehouse. If you'd like to learn more about creating commercial value for your business, contact him to organise a free, no obligation chat.