Whether you’ve been in business for a while or you’re just starting out, a business checkup is a great way to stop and see where you’re at in relation to your business goals. September will always feel like back to school here at Virtual Heights Accounting. But that’s a good thing. It means it’s time to pause, take stock, and recalibrate if necessary.
A business check up can look like a number of different things. You will likely have a sense of where you have gone off track. Maybe you need to finally file that paperwork you’ve had sitting on your desk for months. Or maybe you need to get some bookkeeping help or hire a new employee.
Check out these business checkup areas for ideas.
Business Checkup Cheat Sheet
If you have employees, you will have human resources items to check off your business checkup list. Most human resource managers have a goal of keeping staff happy. When staff are happy, they work more efficiently. Plus, let’s face it, work is a better place to be when people are happy. What are some things you can do to ensure your staff enjoys coming to work?
Not only do you want happy employees, but you also want to make sure you are compliant when it comes to labour laws. In Canada, Federal Labour Standards outline things like hours of work and federal holidays. For specific information regarding minimum wage and other provincial employment standards, be sure to check your provincial site. You can usually find this by typing “employment standards” and your province in the search engine.
If you are a solopreneur, this is the time to ask yourself if you’re satisfied. Do you enjoy what you do? Being an entrepreneur can take a lot of time and energy. This is especially true when you’re the one wearing all the hats in your business. Assessing your work life balance can help you see where you need to improve. Setting better boundaries between work time and home time can help too.
Accounting & Finance
Is your bookkeeping up to date?
If you have read any of our previous posts, you know we advocate for seeing your accountant more than once a year. When doing a business checkup, it’s hard to analyze financial data if your bookkeeping isn’t up to date. Once you’ve done that, you can compare figures to check for things like:
- Spending beyond budget,
- Expenses that seem high compared to previous periods,
- Unusual expenses,
- Increases in marketing expenses without increased sales, and
- Decreases in sales.
When analyzing your accounting records, you want to look for anything that seems out of place. Most often, you will know why those numbers are out of whack based on your business activity. If not, make sure you investigate. Your accountant can help.
Understanding trends in your financial data will help you make the appropriate changes in your business. Once you know why sales are down, for example, you can create a plan to manage that. Now you’re headed into sales and marketing territory.
Sales & Marketing
The main thing to consider with sales and marketing is what marketing you have already done.
You don’t want your business to be a best kept secret, and the only way to do that is to market. Advertising is just one area of marketing. When considering the marketing strategies you’ve already tried, you need to take a step back and conduct an honest assessment.
If you’re not sure where your sales are coming from, make sure you know. Ask your customers how they found out about you. You may be surprised by what you find out. Knowing where your customers are coming from can tell you a lot about the success of your advertising.
For example, if you hired a social media manager to spread the word about your business, but all your customers are coming in because they received a coupon in the mail, you know your customers aren’t on social media and you can adjust accordingly.
What else can you do to promote your business?
There are a number of ways you can increase your sales without increasing your advertising budget. These include things like add-on products or services, sometimes called upselling, where you suggest a complementary product or service to the one the customer is already purchasing.
Creating a database of your customers’ contact information also allows you to send them useful information about your products or services. Sometimes people don’t realize they need something until you point it out. The key with this type of marketing is to emphasize the benefits to your customers rather than simply saying, “buy this” and providing a link to your latest special.
Processes & Systems
This business checkup category is all about being organized. When we get busy, it’s easy to become disorganized. It’s important to take some time and notice the areas where you can be more organized in your business.
Being organized isn’t just about the paperwork on your desk. It’s important that you can easily access your digital information as well. When considering your systems and processes, think about how long it takes you to do certain tasks and whether you have everything you need right at your fingertips. If not, you need to rethink this area of your business.
Let’s circle back to bookkeeping for a minute. This is one area where having good processes and systems will help you stay organized. We recommend Xero for its ease of use. But having a great accounting app isn’t going to fix everything. You still need to schedule time to do your bookkeeping.
At a minimum, you should update your bookkeeping monthly. If you have a lot of transactions going through every month or feel it is too overwhelming doing it once a month, then try every two weeks. Of course, if you’re so busy completing other tasks in your business, then maybe it’s time to find a professional to do this task for you.