All business owners are looking for ways to improve top-line revenues, reduce expenses and increase profits in order to grow their respective businesses. However, the troubling economy and other factors have forced many of these same business owners to replace the word “grow” with the word “survive”.
The majority of business owner’s I have met with in the past all responded with the same answer when I have asked them, “what is the one thing that is critical to your business success”. The simple answer is “more customers”. More profitable customers are the life-blood for any viable business.
Every successful business has or should have a universal checklist of the things that are central to acquiring new customers, growth and yes, survival.
Here is the list of ten things that I believe should be included in your Business Survival Checklist:
- Business/Marketing/Financial Roadmap. What are your existing plans to deliver maximum ROI performance in the next 12-24 months, 3-5 years, 5-10 years and 10+ years? The roadmap for your business, at a minimum, should address the next two fiscal years. Don’t be too optimistic – it is much better to over-deliver on your projections than to fall short.
- Working capital, cash flow and reserves. Do you have enough cash-on-hand to pay the bills, cover unforeseen expenses and provide for future investment and growth? You should have access to the allotted capital required to cover these areas, to enhance the scalability and sustainability of the business.
- Great people and great business relationships. What are your current staffing plans, e.g., in-house versus outsourced services? How do you integrate new supplier and partner relationships in order to accelerate revenue growth, launch planned initiatives, expand market reach, and improve the return on sales and profits?
- Excellent products and services … that customers want to buy. Is there high customer demand for the products and services you currently offer? If not, what are the missing components required to increase the market appeal of your current offerings? Do you have the time, people, capital and resources necessary to address any significant gaps?
- Clear differentiated value. How do you differentiate your products, services and support from the pack? Do you have a strong value proposition that connects with customers and prospects alike in the defined target market(s)? Is your company’s CVP integrated into your branding, marketing and promotional efforts to help drive demand?
- In-depth knowledge of the industry. Do you and your team members possess a thorough understanding of the market and the competitive landscape? Have you completed a detailed market analysis and assessment of your key competitors in order to effectively address customer requirements and stay ahead of the competition?
- A solid Recovery Plan (Plan B). What is your fall-back plan if the industry takes a nose dive, or the economy falters? How will your business respond to a downturn? Many successful business owners have multiple income streams or businesses as their Plan B approach. How frequently do you assess business shifts and make course corrections?
- Customer satisfaction initiatives. A must goal for any business owner should be to retain 100% of their profitable customers. What are the specific plans, programs, etc. you have in place today to achieve this goal? How often do your survey customers’ to obtain their feedback on current and future requirements?
- Relevant performance metrics. How do you measure, audit and track the performance of your business? What are the relevant benchmarks and metrics you have implemented to ensure your sales, customer, staffing, operations and financial objectives are achieved? How often do you audit performance to keep things on track?
- An Exit Strategy and Plan. What is your end game? Remember Lewis Carroll’s great quote, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” Your exit strategy will help determine how you develop and invest in the business over time; therefore, it should be a cornerstone of your overall business planning.
The category leaders in any industry tend to outperform the competition because they are better at execution, and have implemented plans, programs and systems to address these ten business survival checklist areas.
How is your business currently performing in these survival checklist categories?
Are you leading the pack, just holding your own, or are you struggling to survive? If you’re finding it to be increasingly difficult to meet your business goals, maybe it’s time to seek the expert advice needed before your business ends up on life support.
Enjoy the journey!
COPYRIGHT © 2012-23 John Carroll