Christmahanukwanzaa heralds the end of the year. It is a time for celebrations, gifts, and looking to the future. It is also the time when most businesses (probably including yours) are getting ready to close the books on the year in anticipation of starting fresh on January 1st. This year, Id like you to go one step further by taking a long look at your business over the past year and asking yourself some probing questions. Here are just a few:
Has your business served your needs and enabled you to live your ideal lifestyle, or has your life revolved around your business?
Are each of your business processes truly necessary or do you find yourself doing some things because youve always done them? Of the necessary processes, how many of them are running at peak efficiency and how many could be streamlined? How could this streamlining occur?
Do you have the information you need when you need it and does this information contribute to your decision-making process? If not, where is the chain broken? Do you need to purchase new accounting software, create customized reports, or rely more on the numbers instead of gut instinct?
If you vanished tomorrow, would your business keep running smoothly, sputter, or fail altogether? Why? How can you create a business that stands on its own two feet instead of sitting on your shoulders? Far too many entrepreneurs reach retirement and try to cash in their businesses only to realize that they themselves are the business, which lacks any real value beyond them. What this question really boils down to is: Is your business building equity that you can cash in later or do you need to think of other ways to fund your retirement?
Is your business self-sustaining or it draining resources from loans, capital, personal infusions, etc? If your business needs additional resources to remain open, are you a start-up? Is this business a hobby where you dont really need or want the money? Or are you struggling? If so, why? What can you do differently to ease this situation?
Have you examined your products and services to determine your most and least profitable lines? Would eliminating the underperformers boost your bottom line? Remember that profit, not revenue, is what matters.
Are you protected in the event of calamity? For example, do you have enough insurance to guard against disasters? If your business requires your presence in order to run, do you have enough disability insurance to replace your income if you are no longer able to work?
Is this business fulfilling or allowing you to fulfill your dharma or lifes mission, or is it limiting or even preventing you? Our time on this planet is limited and the two words no one should have to utter in their final moments are if only.
Do you have a solid, well-defined marketing process that converts leads into prospects into customers into clients into referral sources? Do you see your marketing as a strategy where every tactic (Web site, brochures, signs, etc.) has its defined place and role? Or do you think of marketing in terms of things to do with no unified purpose?
I am sure you can think of many more questions to ask yourself. I hope you take the time to answer them fully and honestly because doing so will paint a broad picture of your businesss strengths and weaknesses.
This is the seasons for celebration. List all of your successes and make sure you celebrate them with your loved ones and with the people (such as your employees) who helped make them possible. You deserve to reward yourself for every single accomplishment.
This is also the season for reflection and looking ahead. List all of your businesss problem areas and your ideas about why those problems exist. Examine each problem from cause to process to effect. Then celebrate again! Why? Because you have successfully identified things to change or eliminate altogether and have learned and grown as a result. Each item on your list represents an opportunity for you to innovate and experiment, a chance for you to recapture the thrill of discovery you undoubtedly felt when you launched your business.
Identifying your strengths and weaknesses will help ensure that your business thrives in the new year. It is not about finding fault or assigning blame. It is all about clearing your slate of anything that might be holding you back from the success you want and deserve.
I wish you and your loved ones a safe and joyous holiday season.