The Small Business Checkup: 5 Things to Do Every Month
- Business Tips
If you own a small business, your to-do list is never empty (honestly, it could probably make it to the moon and back twice). So it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture and overlook important tasks.
Here’s a monthly checklist to keep your business in shape:
1. Check up on your financials
If you’re a small business owner, you need to know what’s going on with your finances. Even if you’ve hired accounting help to reconcile your accounts, you should keep a good pulse on your financial records so that you can recognize red flags. Make sure you know your P&L figures each month so that you’re not surprised at the end of the quarter (or, even worse, at the end of the year.)
Keep a close eye on your cash flow. You need to know if you’ve got a slow period coming up so you can adjust in advance. There’s really nothing worse than realizing too late that you’re about to run out of money.
Once a month is a great cadence for checking up on outstanding invoices, too. If you’ve got clients who are procrastinating on payment, shoot them a reminder. (Nicely worded at first. Then maybe not so nicely worded.)
2. Check up on your website and online properties
If you’ve got a web presence, check it once a month to make sure it’s still up to date. (You don’t want to deter new customers with inaccurate or old information!) A quick website checkup keeps your company’s image current and gives you a chance to update any online promotions.
While you’re updating your website, take the opportunity to respond to any online reviews that you haven’t had a chance to address. If you run a customer-facing business, know that about 90% of your potential customers will look at your reviews before deciding whether to give you a try. So make sure that they see you in the best possible light. (Here’s some more advice on getting great online reviews.)
3. Check up on your marketing strategy
You’ll always need new customers. So, during your checkup, look at what’s working with your marketing strategy and what’s not. Get a read on which marketing methods are performing, which aren’t pulling their weight, and if there have been any big changes since your last check in. If one of your marketing efforts has been consistently underperforming, cut it so that you can free up time and money for something that’s working better.
This is also a great time to plan your testing strategy for the next month. Been meaning to try targeted Google ads? Buy a slot in the local coupon book? Build a coordinated social campaign? Now’s the time. Make it a goal to test something new each month. Your best marketing channel might still be out there, and you won’t know unless you try.
4. Check up on your employees
A lot of business problems can be traced back to bad communication. So make sure you’re touching base with your team at least once a month. We talked about one-on-one meetings here, but, in general, great one-on-ones have a stated purpose (even if it’s just, “Hey, I’d love to hear how things at work are going for you,”) and are conducted in a safe environment.
Make sure you come to these meetings prepared with questions and ideas, but remember to keep an open mind, too. Be sure to ask each employee if they see room for improvement, and if they’ve noticed anything that they suspect you haven’t seen.
A caveat: if you ask for honesty, be prepared for it. If a tough topic comes up, there’s no shame in asking to table the subject so you have time to think. But do set a date to talk about it again. Nothing will kill the relationship faster than failure to follow through on your commitments.
5. Check up on your goals
Finally, you started your business for a reason. During your monthly check up, pull out your list of goals and make sure you’re still on track. If you’ve made decisions that have moved your company in the wrong direction, now’s the time to recognize that and figure out how to fix the situation. If you’re doing well, note and celebrate your successes.
It’s your business, after all. What matters the most, ultimately, is whether you’re satisfied with what you’re building and how you’re building it. Keep your eye on the prize.