Dear M &M:
People keep telling me I need to work on my business, not in it. What are they talking about?
They are reminding you to act like an owner, not an employee. Running a business is a full time job and as a business owner, you are responsible for everything. It is very easy to get caught up in the day-to-day operations of your business. Recently, a restaurant owner told me he felt like he was shaking the mayor’s hand with one hand and using a plunger to unclog a stopped up toilet with the other.
Business owners are busy but from time to time they need to step out from behind the counter and try to see what they are offering – through the eyes of their customers. Start in the parking lot. Is there plenty of parking? Are the store hours posted? Are there outdated signs on the window? Is the glass clean? As a business owner, you need to track how you are doing.
Here is a list of questions you should ask yourself from time to time: Do you have a business plan that has been updated in the last three months? Have you revised your business goals to match the current business environment and do you have a method to measure incremental results? Do you have an updated marketing plan and budget tailored to the changing environment?
Do you prepare and monitor your monthly financial statements (income, cash flow, balance sheet and account receivables aging)? Do you know the strengths and weakness of your key competitors and have you adjusted your business strategy accordingly? Do you have a process to measure customer satisfaction? Have you considered possible strategic alliances, merger opportunities or acquisition of competitors or their product line?
Do you have an established process to monitor and control inventory? Do you use a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system to track, analyze and retain your current customers? Have you identified the greatest potential threats to your business and done something to guard against them?
Every business owner knows it is easy to get caught up in the daily routine of running your business but ask yourself the questions presented above and when you look at your business like one of your customers would, you will like what you see.