You have your business up and running, but do you have a clear plan in place to ensure that you can take it to the next stage?
Assessing your business after the first year will not only be an effective way of analysing performance, but will help you build your vision and roadmap for handling all business developments and managing your day-to-day goals, says independent property adviser Mike McNamara of Strategic Buyers Agents.
McNamara gave his tips for assessing your business to a recent StartUpSmart and Business Victoria webinar.
Step 1: Are you working ‘hard’ or learning to work ‘smart’?
“Efficiency is what makes the difference between an ordinary business and a great one,” says McNamara.
SMBs often work unsustainably long hours, but you don’t have to do everything by yourself. Are there any processes that are too manual, repetitive and time-wasting?
“You should look at someone externally who can help you work better and faster,” McNamara says.
There are networks and strategic alliances that can help share the load and ensure your efforts are well directed.
“Working hard is admirable but maybe it’s time to move on to working smarter,” McNamara says.
Step 2: Comparing results to plan
‘GAP analysis’ involves you comparing the actual performance with potential performance. This means getting back to marketing principles to understand whether you are getting results, says McNamara.
What did you want your business to be known for? Are you offering something different from your competitors?
Your point of difference might be convenience (better distribution), location or a better product quality to your competitors, he says.
Ideally you must be in a situation where people want to buy your products and there is a high demand for it, says McNamara. Are you in a market where demand is greater than supply? There’s no point reinventing what everyone else is doing.
This process will help you identify flaws in potential performance, resource allocation, and planning, he says.
Step 3: Do you have the right brand presence?
Is your business name easy to remember? Does it emphasise what your business actually does? Does it stand out from your competitors?
Your business name shouldn’t be confusing to say or difficult to digest, says McNamara. That should extend to all your brand presence online including your email and social media.
“For example, I buy property but I’ve also been doing vendor advocacy,” says McNamara. “I’ve changed that title to ‘seller assist’ so people understand my job and what I do.”
Step 4: Do you need to upgrade your business plan?
Update your business plan if you have any changes in your competitive environment, any regulatory changes, changes in software and technology or any changes in your circumstances, says McNamara.
Your plan should include:
1. Clear achievable business objectives;
2. Marketplace information – including updated competitor analysis, research and identify who your customers are;
3. Any new infrastructure, resources and logistic requirements;
4. Changed financial requirements and budgeted financial performance;
5. Action plan.