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Monthly business checklist: What all healthy businesses do

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On October 20 2017, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) reported a scant 12% of 1955 Fortune 500 firms were still in business. Some of the other 88% may have lacked the discipline of an executive monthly business checklist and this could have contributed to their downfall. You can see a list of the survivors here.

The AEI article was not new news when it published. Back in June 2015, the CNBC cautioned that 40% of the then S&P 500 would vanish from company registration records within ten years, because they could not adapt to change.

Business basics and the value of a monthly business checklist

A monthly business checklist serves as a reminder of the things we should consider at the changeover of months. It presents an opportunity to look into the future, and back to see how we have done. Judging by the AEI report, other S&P 500 companies will leave the list too.

History suggests some will go down because their owners forgot their business basics. We detail ten simple steps in this article to keep a business owner’s hand on the wheel.

A business is like raising babies

When we have kids, we have to learn to think on their behalf, and coax them in the right direction. If we do not, they could get in trouble, go off the rails, or even turn out downright failures. Businesses work the same way. It is an urban myth we can appoint a manager and tell them to get on with it. We would still need to monitor key performance indicators in our monthly business checklist. These are the same critical signs we ought to watch for when we are in direct control ourselves.

Check the integrity of data backups

  1. A business is its data, in the sense this is a record of its achievements and its hopes. Many threats face us. The record clerk that once watched our backs is long gone too. Our data is only as safe as our storage method. Outsource thinks 20% of businesses could fail after a data loss disaster. We could probably discount the number. However many companies took a serious knock when they lost their information at Twin Towers.

Nowadays we have the further complication of hackers and blackmailers, who want us to cry until we pay the ransom. If you want to survive a burglary, cyber-attack or other disaster, include backup integrity in your monthly business checklist.

  1. Review what is happening in your industry

We need to look sideways – as well as forward and back – if are to adapt to change and remain relevant in business. Industry trends are a sure-fire indicator of the way our world is moving.

There are many excellent content curation sites gathering information relevant to our sector. When we subscribe to their news feeds, the information comes to us. As a second string, we can opt for Google Alerts. Make notes at the time. Skim through these each time you work through your monthly business checklist.

  1. Discuss what you found with your advisors

To a greater or a lesser extent, we all labor under the problem of adapting new realities to what we already think. This is a natural thing, and one of the ways we cope with change. However, it can be a deadly thing to have in business if we fail to adapt to industry change.

Share what you unearthed with the people you go to for advice. They could a collaborating company, a key supplier, your accountant, a trusted colleague etc. They could also be your board members. Your ideas become richer when you share your thoughts, and your vision of what lies ahead becomes clearer too.

  1. Check the way your inventories are trending

Inventories are stocks of things we sell. We need to right size them according to sales forecasts, and then add safety stock if they are critical. If we have it, we can sell it, but the opposite also applies. If your inventories are increasing, you need to review your reorder points.

Inventory can also be the intellectual property we trade with in a virtual world. If your inspiration is cooling then you are heading for trouble as your opposition catches up. Review your stock of fresh ideas and talent monthly. This is critical to success.

  1. Stay in touch with customers

There are so many road signs along a turnpike, we hardly notice them and miss an exit. Suppliers are similarly distant in the minds of customers, and they soon overlook us too. When you take out your monthly business checklist, try to figure out how well your reach is working.

If you stream your newsletters by email, a service such as HubSpot will tell you who is opening what, and who is just ignoring your messages. Check your social media stats monthly too. The major sites provide amazing feedback, but you have to request it although it is usually free.

  1. Do not allow a supplier to slip one over

This is one of the more important items on your monthly business checklist. Supplier representatives may promise the earth for an order, but they do not always sing from the same song sheet as the people in accounts. Review their monthly statements critically.

Did they slip in a price increase, or forget a discount a rep promised? If you work on tight margins, your profit could be going out the window. Consumer loyalty is a wonderful thing for which we all should strive. However, blind supplier loyalty is a habit to avoid.

  1. Check the performance of your website

You cannot leave your SEO entirely to your service provider. Your efforts to stay in touch with customers should include a back link to your website. However, what happens after that? Which route did they follow to reach it, how long did they stay, what did they hover over, what actions did they take?

Your service provider may remain silent in the hope bad stats improve. Seize the initiative once a month by ordering your Google Analytics online. Did you know you could sneak a peek at what your opposition is doing too? This is definitely one for your monthly business checklist.

  1. Remain active on social media

Social media marketing is a long tramp, not a quick sprint. We have to keep on drip-feeding, especially if we are trading for millennials. But first, you need to turn your back on the idea that social media sites are for selling.

The social media sites are like a virtual golf club where you meet old friends and potential new customers. You hand them a business card but that’s as far as it goes. You achieved your goal because now they know you, and appreciate your take on life.

  1. Compare your sales numbers year on year

All markets cycle. Seasons come and go, and so do new and old suppliers. The economy and the weather also play a role. It is pointless having highs over good months, and lows over bad. You may not have influenced the outcomes at all.

You will find it far more meaningful comparing your monthly sales with those a year previously. Keep an excel spreadsheet  of the trends over longer periods. Play with the data to discover new things that drive your business.

  1. Check your critical numbers in finance

This has been a long tramp but thanks for staying we are nearly done. Accountants are not always the best people for explaining numbers because they do it all the time.

Take time out to understand the most important ratios behind your income statement. Once you have your mind around these as the final item on your monthly business checklist, you could be ready to take on the bank manager for a loan.

The Pursuit of Happiness: The Personal Factors to Monitor

Business is about interaction with people when all is said and done. At a personal level, you need to do a monthly review of how your interactions went with customers, employees, and your family too. How visible have you been to them, and how did you spend the time. Did you know there is a direct link between business success and giving? However, this is not all about money.

Most of us are in business because we want our loved ones to have everything they want. Your monthly business checklist should therefore also trigger a review of how much time you gave your family. They love you too. Just you being with them beats sliced bread hands down. Sure, this is not always easy but we have to work at it.

Finally, what about you? After working through your monthly business checklist, ask yourself how happy you are really. Here’s a solid link that proves how happiness influences success. The writer describes how positive attitude leads to more productive performance. Consider adding a few short days to your monthly business diary, so you can break loose, and be happy doing precisely what you want.

About Business Woman Media

Our women don’t want to settle for anything but the best. They understand that success is a journey involving personal growth, savvy optimism and the tenacity to be the best.We believe in pragmatism, having fun, hard-work and sharing inspiration.

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