January Business Fitness Check
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For most companies and organisations January is the time you review the previous year’s performance and start preparing yourself for the year ahead. It’s usually evident by now which areas need attention and what needs to be put in place for a more successful future. Most companies suffer from a degree of seasonality - where certain months of the year yield significantly lower revenues than others. In certain industries even, the Christmas period can be responsible for as much as 80% of the year’s turnover. It is critical therefore to be properly set up for the year - so that you can take best advantage of peak times and weather the droughts between. The following overview is a quick checklist:
- Reserves - Keeping a small but significant portion of funds saved for emergencies, prudent fiscal policy
- Cash Flow - The bane of many a small company - ensuring you have disciplined procedures in place in order to be paid in a timely fashion - fines for late payment, beneficial terms for swift payment etc.
- Facilities - Overdraft, Factoring, Short-term Loans - essential services for seeing you through the leaner times of the year
- Investment - Significant inflow of funds - usually to cover some form of expansion - be very careful what you give away for a stake in the company though, it is absolutely essential to attract the right sort of investor - someone who is in it for the long-term and does not put short-term gain above everything else
- Growth - Adding staff to cope with / take on additional work - key criteria is compatibility with existing workforce over everything else
- Pruning - Ensuring that the organisation is properly lean and harbours no ’passengers’
- Replacements / N+1 - Most companies and organisations suffer some degree of churn or absences, things like maternity leave and sick days etc, need to be factored in as well as key staff holidays
Collateral / Consumables
- Sales - Essential Sales Materials - Sales Presenters / leave-behinds, Presentations and other Face-to-Face materials, Price lists, Case Studies etc.
- Marketing - Brand Maintenance, Newsflow, Social Media, Growth Hacking
- Events - Trade Shows, Customer Events, Co-hosted Partner Events and Round-tables
- Stationery / Supplies - Everyday office consumables - most companies need the basics of business cards, letterheads etc.
- Software - Maintenance / Upkeep of essential software and services - Email, Office Products, Design, Utilities
- Office Space - Premises, Locations, HQ - we as a virtualised / distributed company have no permanent offices, yet still need to maintain Business Club Memberships for Meeting Arrangements
- Furnishings - Natural wear-and-tear to chairs, desks and storage, plants and artworks - something that distributed companies definitely do not need to think about
- Hardware - For most companies hardware requirements are essential considerations. A company like ours might need to supply several staff with relevant work assets - including Laptops, Tablets and other Mobile Devices for essential development work / design / product testing. Typical shelf-life of rapidly advancing technology means a circa 3 year obsolescence cycle. Most businesses utilise some sort of printer/scanner/photocopier also which may need maintenance or replacement
- Website - It was a key consideration in 2014, and pretty much critical for most companies in 2015 to go Responsive, You should also check your Hosting to see that current levels meet requirements - e.g. service level agreements and business continuity
- Digital Business - This is about achieving efficiencies by automating and digitalising your business as much as possible - allowing it to run globally and 24/7 to most intents and purposes
- Mobile Resources - Responsive is the biggest part of catering for Mobile for most, but some will need to develop and evolve additional apps to fully service their customers / intended target audience
Legal / Procedural
- Staff Handbook - Essential Guide for advising staff on all procedural matters - expenses, holidays, working environment, responsibilities etc.
- Team Time - Clocking-on and Time-Sheets - e.g. assigning resources against Projects
- Calendar - Holidays, Illness, Awaydays
- Health & Safety - First Aid Kits / Representatives, Workwear, Work Guidelines - Breaks etc.
- Contracts - Various - Employment, Sales, NDAs etc.
- Insurance - Assets and Liability Insurance
A quick scan through the above should provide you with a decent springboard for your 2015 planning activities ...