If there is one thing that the Covid-19 pandemic taught entrepreneurs, it’s that you can’t rely on your plan to go as expected 100 percent of the time. Many companies were reactive during the onset of the pandemic and are paying for the early decisions they made. While this hasn’t been an easy time for anyone, there is a way to ensure you are ready when unforeseeable changes occur.
I’ve found that when specific checkpoints and reviews are set in place, you can relax about your business’s health. Stressing about what could happen in the future isn’t going to get you anywhere. That said, here are the three areas of your business where you should always keep a finger on the pulse.
1. Business finances.
Finances are one area of business where ignorance is not bliss. If you don’t know where your finances stand, every decision you make could unknowingly be misaligned with your capacity. On the flip side, obsessively checking your finances isn’t healthy either. After all, a watched pot never boils.
When tax season was upon us, it blew me away how many professionals started to pull together their finances, documents, and attempt to track purchases. Instead of scrambling with the date looming nearby, set yourself up with small steps throughout the year. Begin by holding a weekly or bi-weekly review of your finances. I have a bi-monthly review with my accountant and a quarterly review with my CPA. This way, that fight or flight mentality doesn’t lead you to make quick decisions that might not be the best for you long term.
Ask yourself the hard questions during these reviews. Did you hit your sales numbers? Are your key performance indicators (KPIs) on track or are they trending downward? What passion project is eating up all revenue? If markers and goals are off, set a plan in place and continue to monitor whether a positive shift occurs.
2. Customer reviews.
Customers are the heart and soul of your business. As such, their input and engagement is a way to check the pulse of forward-moving progress. Dedicate consistent time to read reviews, check social media engagement stats, and observe trends taking place with your audience. You can even ask a lead on your team to pull together and share a handful of reviews that catch their eye.
It’s tempting to avoid reading negative comments, but that is where the gold for growth lies. When I started my first e-commerce business, I spent hours sifting through my reviews and the reviews of my competitors. This taught me a great deal about what was working well versus what was a pain point for my community of buyers. As a result, I implemented a few solutions in the design of our next product version and the feedback spiked our positive reviews.
3. Employee health.
Check in with your employees. Hold a monthly time block to gauge how they are doing. I like to do this in different methods to ensure the team doesn’t become exhausted with check-ins. This could be having one on ones with various team members, sending out a survey, or hosting an in-person or virtual review session. Keep the intake method varied while you look for certain indicators of a happy and engaged team.
These check-ins are some of my most precious moments throughout the year. While I always hope for positive input, learning the truths of where pain points lie or what an employee truly needs creates actionable insight that drives improvement for everyone.
Establish these checkpoints within your business and then set the thoughts of worry aside. The next time a big issue pops up, such as a supply chain material depletion or a shift in tax laws, you will immediately understand how this affects your business and you can take actions accordingly.