It is easy when you own your own business to have a too narrow view of how you are doing. If things are going well and you are making money, you are doing pretty good, right? And if you are in a rough spot and money is tight, then you need to be doing something better, no?
Both views are probably too myopic, and as a result, probably incorrect as well.
Judging the success or failure of your business by a snapshot of how you are doing today, or this week, or even this month is not what the savvy businessperson does. Do you think Tim Cook determines how Apple is doing based on the sales of one day, or one region, or one product? Of course not. A lot more needs to go into the equation.
Here then are 7 things to examine vis-à-vis your business so as to determine how you are really doing.
1. Marketing: Of course you have a few marketing tricks up your sleeve, after all, if you didn’t, you wouldn’t still be in business. But having some old standbys is not good enough. When was the last time you invented a new marketing campaign? Great businesses not only have a variety of marketing methods, but they innovate and try new ones on an ongoing basis. No, they don’t all work, but the point is, by continuing to market in different ways, they learn what does work, and that’s the ticket.
2. Social media: Hot on the tail of marketing generally is social media specifically. Social media is of course the new frontier when it comes to marketing, and therefore is something that you have to have begun to have mastered by now if you want to conclude that your business is on the right track.
Well, is it?
3. Culture: All small businesses have a culture; most are by default and only a few are by design. What you want is a culture by design. The reason is because culture is the air that your staff breathes. It is the values they work by. It is your vision for your business made tangible on a daily basis. Is yours a fun place to work, or not? Are people treated with respect, or not? These things make a huge difference.
4. Brand: Think of your brand as your culture turned inside out. If your culture is how your business is run internally, your brand is what people on the outside see when they see your business. The best businesses have a synergy and integrity between their culture and their brand. The values of each should be the same.
4. Operations: How is your business run on a day-to-day basis? Is it efficient and effective? Do you treat customers well? Are emails returned promptly and professionally? What about returns?
6. Innovation: It doesn’t matter whether you work in a big or small business, great businesses innovate. Innovation may be a new product that shocks the world (the Xerox machine), or just a new way to serve sushi at your sushi bar. Either way, new ideas are exciting, get people jazzed, and lead to new opportunities.
7. Strategic planning: Finally, the best businesses continue to take their vision, brand, culture and the rest and put them down on paper. They strive to apply their lofty rhetoric to the real world by setting goals and committing to numbers.
Do that, and your business cannot help but to be on the right track.