We are literally two thirds of the way through the financial year! Can you believe it? March is a great month to take a step back, reflect on performance and make any adjustments required to ensure you smash through your end of year goals.
Every business owner I have worked with has a slightly different scorecard that they use to monitor business performance. Whether you are using a manual system, software or a highly developed hybrid to track and analyse your inputs and outputs, the principles remain the same. You can't control the outcome, but you can control the process. If you take time to check how you're performing, you can give your business a tune up before you hit the finish line at June 30.
By utilising March as your month of re-alignment, you can reap the benefits of:
The final point is what I've love to explore further. I don't want you (or me) wasting time working on the wrong things. Years ago, a dentist client of mine said to me "Roxanne, I make more money with my hands in people's mouths. The most efficient business practice I can adopt is to get out of the way and be a dentist". He has used his own advice year after year, surviving and thriving where appropriate. I often tell other clients this story. He was brave enough to stop being the "manager" and step into the role of technician. I really admire his words of wisdom. Are you working in the most profitable role you can? For every business, this role is different.
When studying business theory, of course it makes sense to allocate the right tasks to the right people. In theory, this is easy. In real life I find this can be easier said than done. In fact, I find real life sometimes to be quite removed from text books!
Here are my top tips for reflection and re-alignment in March:
1. Reflect on year to date financial performance.
Are you on track? What does this 8 months look like compared to the same 8 months in the previous year? This isn't rocket science, but given we are not at end of quarter or end of year, it can be overlooked. Have a good look at the trends. If you need to make adjustments, do so. We still have 4 months to go this fiscal year and that's plenty of time for adjustments to create impact.
2. Reflect on financial performance of the next period (March - June) for the last 3 financial years.
What have you got ahead of you? Some industries (retail for example) are affected by Easter. The timing of Easter needs to be considered and factored in. Don't let a late Easter surprise you. Some industries are affected by end of financial year. Somehow the run into June 30 gets people spending (professional services can experience this). Take some time to reflect and plan for what's ahead.
3. Are you ready for the success?
If you are using this period to make a marketing or sales push and create some noise, have you set yourself up for success? In retail, this might be as simple as another point of sale system. For an online business, it may be extended live chat time and for an office based business, it might mean adjustments to reception staffing levels. So often I have seen a business invest in making a push and then not 100% ready for the success. Plan for it and go for it!
4. Refocus your marketing strategy.
Take a look at how your marketing activity is dovetailing into your sales activity. Do you need to tidy things up? A key element here maybe your content marketing. Are you blogs working with your social media posts and your google ad words working with your Facebook boost? If you need to refocus and re-align, get to it.
5. Are you drumming up the right business?
When reflecting on your marketing and financial performance, get your marketing manager and financial controller in the room together. Or if you own a smaller business and wear both of these hats, get into some role playing. Don't just aim for more business, aim for profitable business. The product (or service) lines you analysed in July 2016 might not be your winners anymore. Take a good look. Perhaps another product line is driving your net profits harder. If you need to adjust your activity to promote that line more, then do so.
6. Do you need to trim costs?
Sometimes the market just isn't reacting how we want it to! If you need to trim back costs, make sure you are trimming them from the right areas. As a marketer, I firmly believe you can't sell a secret, so of course I don't want the marketing budget to be the first area cut. However, sometimes you just have to put your big girl pants on (or big boy pants) and make some tough decisions. If it's big costs to be cut, sometimes getting an outsider's opinion on where you will feel it the least can help. Better to ask for help now and finish is a good position at June 30, than simply cross your fingers and hope for the best.
7. Zig. Or zag. Whatever the others aren't doing.
You may have found a great niche in July 2016 and spent a great deal of time telling the world about how you're different from your competition. Somehow your competitors seem to be not getting the message and are copying your lead. (It's a compliment - it just doesn't feel like it). March is the perfect month to zig if they are zagging. Throw in something new, mix it up a bit and ensure you finish on a high note for financial year 2017.
I find reflection needs a different pair of glasses. You want to consider things in a different manner than the everyday. I invite you to get up, grab a cuppa and go outside. Seriously, take your computer out to the garden, or down the beach. Get your body into a different space and it's easier to get your mind into a different space too.
Good luck! I hope this next 4 months are just wonderful for you.