The life of a small business owner is a busy one making it easy to see several months slip past without noticing. It is always important, however, to take time out to check that everything is as it should be, and that you are on the right track. Use this 10-point monthly checklist as a starting point in your small business to put in place a system of regular review and planning. It doesn’t have to take long to complete as this is not necessarily about doing. It is more about taking time to review, think and plan to keep your business moving forward.
- Review Your Finances
Check that suppliers are being paid on time, and that you are up-to-date with tax and VAT returns. Also make sure your payroll is up-to-date, and review your debtors list – are late payers being followed up effectively enough?
It is also worthwhile reviewing your cash flow to check it matched expectation over the previous month/quarter, and to remind yourself of changes or potentially difficult patches coming up in the near future.
- Compare Sales Figures
Compare last month’s sales figures with the previous month, the previous quarter, and the previous year. Are their particular products that are not selling as well as before? Are there clients who are not spending as much with you this year than they were last year? Are there previous clients who are not now spending with you at all?
- Review Marketing Initiatives
Marketing is an area that many small business owners spend a lot of time planning, but not much time properly reviewing, so it is worthwhile making some time. Did you spend what you expected to spend, and were the results in line with your expectations? Do you even have proper systems in place to analyse marketing efforts, or are there things that could be done better in the future?
- Review Costs
Spend some time looking at costs, including the deals you get with regular suppliers. When was the last time these deals were renegotiated and fully reviewed? Would it be appropriate to schedule that onto your to-do list for the coming month, or to task a staff member or manager to complete it for you? Have market conditions changed or are new services available that enable you to reduce costs in certain areas?
- Review Online Activity
Review traffic and conversion levels from your website, comparing the results to the previous month and the same month last year. Do the same on any third-party websites you might use (such as eBay or Amazon), and review your product listings and company pages on these sites – is there anything that can be improved to increase your visibility? Also review your social media activity and pages.
- Read About Your Industry
Almost every successful entrepreneur says one of the keys to success is to have an insatiable appetite for knowledge in your industry. That can be hard when things get really busy, but you should always spend time every month reading as much as you can to improve your knowledge. You can even take it a step further by getting involved in online discussion groups and forums related to your industry.
- Talk To Your Accountant
A conversation with your accountant every month will highlight areas of your business that can be improved and opportunities you might be able to take advantage of. It is always good to have someone give you a fresh perspective, and your accountant is in an excellent position to do this.
- Review Life Outside Business
A successful small business owner has to have a well-balanced life. That means looking after your health, spending time with family and friends, and having interests outside of work. Are you doing well on each of those measurements?
- Check Plans Are On Track
You will have plans for your business for the next months and years, so spend time each month checking to see that sufficient progress is being made.
- Develop New Ideas
Finally, take time to think about new opportunities for your business. This could be new product ideas, expansion plans, IT initiatives, or anything else that will help your business improve.
For further help with managing your business, or to get accounting advice, please contact an advisor at Gilroy Gannon today.