4 Strategies for Big-Picture Thinking

Article originally published in Your Business Magazine February/March 2016 edition.

You need to know how you are doing to do better…

In business, as in life, it is important to take a step back and take stock of your situation to figure out how you are doing, and how you can do even better. Everyone has been told at least once in their life that they need to look at the bigger picture, and this is something you need to do as business owners to make sure you’re not just working in the business but also on the business.

As a small business owner, it is very easy to get sucked into the everyday tasks that keep the business afloat, and bring in the money. That said: if you’re too close to the ground, you could very easily miss the opportunities on the way. It’s important to make time for strategy and to work on the bigger plan for the business. Here are some tips on how to take stock of your business so that it can grow from strength to strength:

  1. Plan strategy sessions: Make time every week, even if just for 30 minutes, to review current strategies and decide if they are working. Ask key players to bring one or two new ideas to these meetings so that you can start a brainstorm session and quickly find solutions if something isn’t working for you. Make sure you keep them short and productive so that people don’t start dreading these sessions; you want to make sure that everyone involved is engaged and willing to participate.
  2. Keep track of your finances: It may seem obvious, but it is imperative to have a snapshot of your financials no matter who is keeping the books up to date. Not all business owners have the time to do their own accounting, and in fact, it’s usually better to hand them over to someone who will be diligent in keeping them up to date so you can focus on running the business. However, it remains important to have a finger on the pulse, even if it’s a short monthly report or a chat with your bookkeeper. You need to know if expenses are running too high or if you have some extra budget available to hire a new staff member, or buy that coffee machine you’ve always wanted.
  3. Create a client feedback loop: As important as it is to know how you are doing in terms of overall strategy and your bottom line, it’s equally important to know how your customers feel about your services. There are any number of ways to review a business, from Facebook reviews to Zomato for restaurants and Trip Advisor for hotels. Make sure you keep the conversation open so that customers don’t feel the need to post negative comments on these platforms. Start by creating a short email to every customer once you have interacted with them, asking for a testimonial or feedback on your services. The next step is to create a survey to ask where your customers feel you need to improve. You can host this survey on your website, or use an online tool such as Google Forms or SurveyMonkey. Make sure there is space for comments so customers feel like you’re interested in hearing what they have to say.
  4. Draw on statistics and data: Regularly draw statistics and data relating to areas of ‘performance’, such as website views, newsletter opens, social media interaction, sales, new business, relationships with suppliers, bad debt and anything else that may be relevant to your business. Compare your current situation with that of the same time last year to gain insight into how you have been doing over the past year.

Once you’ve covered all the bases and know exactly what is going on in your business, it becomes easy to use this information to make any changes and grow your business to its full potential.