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These 5 signs you need to spend more time working on your business can make the difference between long term success, or failure. Entrepreneurs juggle a lot of responsibilities, so it’s tough to stay balanced. It can be a challenge to make the time to review results, see the bigger picture, and check in with yourself. But it’s so important, and this post explains why.
1. Books are not updated
Bookkeeping may be your idea of a good time, but it is a critical part of running a business. Because without updated financial reports, how will you know key metrics like profitability, and revenue growth?
Futhermore, if books are not updated, it makes it hard to know what tax remittances to make, what bills need to be paid, and what invoices haven’t been collected. This creates stress, losses, cash flow problems, or even business failure. Given that government tax agencies have extensive power and can even close a business, clearly bookkeeping should not be neglected. Make bookkeeping easier with technology. When I ran my franchise system in Canada, I used QuickBooks. In the UK, I use and recommend FreeAgent. All bank transactions are updated so there is no manual entry. It makes reporting and tax filings so easy, with very little administration time.
Are bank statements reconciled?
What is the status of tax filings for the business ? Remitting sales tax, payroll tax, and tax on profits?
Did I file my own personal taxes last year?
Are my business finances separate from my personal finances?
2. Website is out of date
Clearly, most companies have websites. While for some it may be more information, for others it is transactional. For businesses that rely on a website for orders, sales, or bookings is more likely to be updated and maintained on a regular basis. However, for other businesses, a website is essentially an online billboard. It’s just a way to present information, and not directly tied to revenue. Therefore, it’s less of a priority to when spending time working on your business.
However, even if your company website isn’t how you make your money, keep it updated. One, it’s a powerful way to connect with your audience. This is how they may find your location or your contact details. Two, it’s an important step of the decision making process. If I see great content on social media, I click through to the website to learn more about the product or service. If the site is outdated, or inaccurate, or has a 404, this doesn’t build trust, and this can negatively impact my decision to purchase. Sometimes, starting a new site from scratch is faster, easier, and less money than cleaning up the code, content, and plugins of an old site that hasn’t been updated for awhile. The IONOS website creator makes it easy.
Losing a website - a true story
Here is an example. Years ago I knew a small business owner who got so busy servicing customers that he didn’t spend any time working on his business. Administration, marketing, website maintenance – it was all ignored. He didn’t do it, and he didn’t outsource it to someone else to handle. And then, he hit a slump. Projects were completed, so he needed more customers. But there were no calls or emails coming in. That is how he realized that his website was down. Not only that, but his domain name had expired, and a competitor had purchased it. So when people searched for his company name, they were directed to a website owned by a direct competitor.
Is the copyright year on the website accurate?
Does my website have current prices and services?
Are names, addresses, contact details accurate?
When were internal and outbound links last checked?
What is the site speed?
How is the site ranked for SEO and SERP?
3 - No marketing campaign
Are you super busy with your current workload? Great! But things change fast. In order to avoid a revenue drop, keep the marketing activity flowing. Also, keep track of results, so that you know what marketing channel and message is most effective. It’s best to review marketing results from past quarters and years to see not just how many people responded to your ads and outreach, but how many became customers. Because who knows what this analysis will reveal? You may find that what worked well before is not yielding the same results.
Do I know my customer avatar?
Am I reaching my customers in all the right places, and with the right frequency?
What is the cost acquisition for new customers?
Which marketing channel gives the best return on investment?
How does the conversion rate compare to last quarter, or last year?
4 - Unanswered emails and messages
In a perfect world, all channels of communication would be clear and empty by the end of every business day. However, that isn’t realistic for most entrepreneurs. But if your unanswered emails and messages are piling up each day, and spilling over into new weeks and months, this is a sign to spend more time working on your business.
After all, many entrepreneurs juggle it all – sales, support, and marketing. But more established business owners have usually delegated these tasks. So here may be front line staff to respond to customers, and a social media manager to deal with DMs. Amazing. However, having a team means questions for the boss, and a bigger business means more communication. Therefore, what is going on with your email and messages is an opportunity to set up processes and systems to keep up with communication and administration.
In our digital online world, we don’t often pick up the phone and make a call. But when we do, we expect a response. Don’t send your customers (or potential customers!) into the void of voicemail. Answering services are professional, prompt, and can use the language and messaging you want your customers to hear. I recommend Ruby to my clients in the United States, and in the UK I love the services of MoneyPenny.
How long do customers wait for a response?
Am I responding to emails at night, or on weekends, when I could be more present with family, friends, and fun?
Do I use technology to make communication faster? Auto responders, automations, pre-written responses?
Have I ever missed something important because it was buried in email, WhatsApp, or DMs?
5 - No strategy
The last of these 5 signs you need to spend more time working on your business is not having a strategy. Basically, this means winging it week to week, quarter by quarter, without a specific strategic plan. By all means, this doesn’t have to be polished, pretty, or posted on a wall. It can be a sketch in a journal or bullet points on your phone. The point is, do you have a roadmap to follow to direct your business activities?
After all, it’s easy to get into the groove of managing things day by day. The administrative tasks of regular operations like fulfilling orders, managing staff, or dealing with suppliers is a busy schedule. And it can be exciting, and feel satisfying. This is ok for a little while. But as weeks and months slip by without spending time on strategy and leave your business lost and without direction.
Is revenue and profits reviewed regularly to compare from quarter to quarter, and year to year?
Do we track performance metrics that are meaningful for our business and customers? Things like quality, response time, delivery time, satisfaction levels, referrals, retention?
What are specific goals for the coming year?
Why these 5 signs matter to your business
Clearly, bookkeeping, website, marketing, communication, and planning are all important elements of working on a business. If these are all up to date, it’s a sign of a well managed business. However, when these activities are set aside to mostly deal with day to day stuff, it can quickly pile up into a mess that creates problems. As shown above, not spending time on a business can lead to big problems, like losing a domain name!
Therefore, step out of the flow of daily operations and work on your business to get better performance and profits. For more direction on what to focus on, that this quick 2-minute quiz to get personalized feedback.