Running your own business makes for a very busy life. And with so much to do in the day to day running of your SME, it can be tough finding time to check you’re on track… not to mention focusing on your wider business goals.
Which is why committing to a monthly checklist is so important. From our experience with our clients, stepping back to look at the bigger picture for your SME can help you refocus your efforts. And this in turn can help you spend less money, grow your revenues and achieve your long term objectives.
Ready to get started? Here’s our essential 9-step monthly checklist to help you review your progress and grow your business…
1. Review your financial position
This is arguably the most important task in your monthly checklist.
Make sure you’re on top of paying all your bills, suppliers, payroll and taxes and spend time chasing any outstanding invoices. It’s also worth doing a sense check on the prices your suppliers are charging. Are they still competitive? Can you get a better price elsewhere?
And how’s your cash flow? Is it as expected?
This monthly finance review can feel daunting at first, but it’s vital for keeping your business on track.
2. Compare your sales figures
Knowing your sales figures inside out – and making sure your profit levels are where they should be – is another must-do task on your monthly checklist.
Spend time comparing your sales from the previous month, the previous quarter and your year-on-year sales.
Go through your business plan to ensure you are where you should be. And if you’re not, why not? For example, are certain clients not spending as much as before, or are some of your products not selling as well?
3. Make sure you’re visible
Are you posting regularly on social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn? Are you reaching your target customers and connecting with key influencers who can help raise awareness of your brand?
A LinkedIn report in 2015 found 93% of SMEs surveyed used social media for growth – are you making this a priority?
Also, spend time analysing your website traffic. Use Google Analytics to see which pages are performing well and which ones need improving.
4. Ensure your marketing is on point
Along with your social media platforms, spend time reviewing your other marketing activities.
For example, if you have an email newsletter or are running an email campaign what are the conversion rates? And are your Google Adwords driving traffic to your website?
With so much else to focus on, it can be easy to commit to different marketing strategies and then not properly analyse the results.
Which is why, every month, it’s so important to spend time reviewing what’s working and what isn’t as part of a monthly checklist.
5. Talk to your accountant
Getting a fresh perspective on your month’s business activities is incredibly useful. Allocate time to have a catch up with your accountant to discuss your business performance over the past month – and the last quarter – to make sure you’re on track.
At Square Mile Accounting, we work with you to form a strategic plan to really grow your business. We’re on hand to talk in person, on the phone, Skype, email… whichever way works for you.
6. Stay on top of your inventory
If you have a manufacturing or retail business, it’s crucial you’re on top of your inventory. Too much stock could mean less cash flow as it’s tied up in products, while too little could see your customers going elsewhere.
To overcome this, as part of your monthly checklist ask yourself the following questions:
* Are your stock levels in line with your sales forecasts? You can make predictions based on the previous month, quarter or year. Also, consider seasonality, end of month spikes or any other trends.
* Are you tracking your stock, keeping on top of breakages for example? An electronic inventory system is ideal – just make sure you always keep a backup copy of your data if you are using a hard drive.
* Is everything being stored correctly? Make sure everything is secure and you have a special management system for perishable goods.
7. Keep up to date on industry trends
Stay relevant – and ahead of your competition – by keeping up to date with all your industry trends.
Set up Google Alerts for key topics you are interested in. Creating expert lists in Twitter is also a great way of catching up with your industry news, along with news aggregator sites like Right Relevance.
Taking a step back once a month gives you fresh eyes on your business.
Allocate some time for brainstorming new ideas for your business. Ask all your employees to come armed with suggestions and ideas.
We love the tip of asking everyone to say their bad ideas first – this will help relax your team and get everyone having a laugh.
Other ideas for brainstorming sessions include mood boards or asking everyone to write down three ideas and pass to the person next to them. You can then start discussions around these suggestions.
9. Have a backup
If you use your hard drive to store data, what would happen if it was damaged or stolen? If the thought of that happening is sending cold shivers down your spine (us too!) then the last step in your monthly checklist is backing up all your data.
You should do this at least once a month.
The safest way to store data is to use cloud-based applications – something we specialise in at Square Mile Accounting.
Are you ready to try our 9-step monthly checklist? By spending time reviewing your business – and making sure you’re on track – you could see a huge difference.
But remember, you don’t have to do it on your own.
We’re on hand to help so why not get in touch to find out how Square Mile Accounting can really grow your business and help you reach its full potential at email@example.com