8 Steps to Evaluate Your Business Progress
[tweet_dis]The first six months of the year are done and gone, so this is a good time to evaluate how business is going.[/tweet_dis] By not waiting until next year to ensure you’re meeting your goals, you can make any course corrections to ensure your success for the remainder of the year.
Step 1: Revisit Your Vision, Mission and Values
Did you identify these elements of your business at the beginning of the year? If you did, are you staying true to them? If you didn’t, now is the time to get focused and lay the groundwork for your businesses.
It doesn’t matter that you are a business of one. You have to know why you are doing what you do, and how it affects your clients.
Your Vision Statement defines the optimal desired future state. It’s your mental picture of what you want your business to achieve over time. The vision statement provides guidance and inspiration as to what you plan on achieving in five, ten, or even twenty years.
Your Mission statement defines the present state or purpose of an organization. It essentially answers three questions about why your business exists:
• WHAT it does.
• WHO it does it for.
• HOW it does what it does.
Step 2: Review Your Business Plan and Goals
When did you last review your business plan and determine if you are actually on track to achieve your goals? Are you actually following your plan? Often, we spend time to preparing a detailed road map, and then file it away, never to review it (at least, not until the following year).
For new business owners, keep this in mind: When you completed your business plan and set your sales projections, you were essentially throwing a dart at a target with your eyes covered. Now you should have some experience and numbers to project more accurately. If you need some assistance, Score has a couple of posts that can help.
Maybe you are following your business plan, but you aren’t getting the results you wanted. It might be time to re-think your strategies and tactics. This can save you time, wasted effort, and maybe even money.
Step 3: Analyze Your Finances
You should be reviewing your profits and expenditures on a monthly basis, but now is the time to look at some of the other costs, like the cost of client/customer acquisition. This number is crucial to evaluate your profits. Also, you need to understand what a client’s lifetime value (CLV) is.[tweet_dis]Customer Acquisition Cost is the full cost you pay to convince a consumer to buy your product or service.[/tweet_dis] It includes the raw price of the product or service, as well as the money you spend on research, marketing, and accessibility costs.
Once you have acquired that client or customer, how much will they spend over the lifetime of your business? That’s your CLV: what value they bring to your business over the long haul. The higher the value, the better. The 80-20 rule says that about 20 percent of your customers will make up 80 percent of your sales, so it’s well worth securing repeat customers. That will also lower your acquisition costs.
Now if you don’t have the data to be able to make these evaluations, then you have a different issue, which is your bookkeeping systems. How are you tracking expenses and income? Are you managing your numbers on a monthly basis? If not, then it is time to put some systems in place. You can either hire a bookkeeper and/or accountant (which admittedly can be costly) or you can handle it yourself with some software and office equipment. You might want to look at a service like Quickbooks Online and a receipt scanner like Neat.
Finally, you may find yourself in a position where your cash flow is actually damaging your business. You may have to look at your pricing after you understand what your CAC and CLV are and bump your prices up accordingly. Or, you may need to look for additional solutions that will allow you to grow your businesses.
Finally, don’t forget to look at your marketing strategies to determine if they are actually producing the best results.
Step 4: Ask Yourself, Does Your Brand Need an Update?
Look at your website and social media platforms, as well as any marketing materials and make sure your branding is consistent across all of your marketing. If not, then do what is necessary to update your marketing materials. If you are too close to be objective, ask clients or colleagues, or someone else you trust, to give you feedback.
Step 5: Ask for Client Feedback
Reach out to your current clients for feedback on how well you are delivering your services and products. The best method to receive customer responses is often through a survey or by sending a direct personal email. However, if you opt for a survey, be careful to ask the correct questions. Qualtrics has 5 sample survey questions you may want to use.
Step 6: Evaluate Vendors
Look at the vendors you are using. Are those vendors supplying the best service or tools for your business? Is there a better resource that is more cost effective?
It is okay to look for new vendors periodically, even if it means a big change. There was a time in my business, years ago, when I was paying for Constant Contact because I was concerned about moving my list, even though they no longer provided the tools I needed. I had used the service for 10 years, and for a couple of those years, I was also paying for another service that provided the tools I need. Not exactly a good business decision. Check out the Inc. article 7 Tips for Rating and Evaluating your Supplies and Vendors for more advice.
Step 7: Check Your Marketing Plan’s ROI
We’ve briefly touched on this already, but do you have systems in place to measure your marketing tactics’ effectiveness? Here are just a few ways to be sure each of your strategies is helping your business, not just draining cash.
• Use dedicated phone lines to track phone orders. For example, if you mention a toll-free number in your ad, assign different extensions to particular advertisements.
• Compare pre- and post-advertising traffic on your website. Using Google Analytics is the best method for tracking traffic and behavior. Measuring click-through rates from ads is one thing but more important is measuring the time spent on your site and the number of pages viewed.
You need to be sure that you are measuring the right metrics to accurately gauge effectiveness. You might have 15,000 followers on Facebook, but what good are they if only 150 people see your posts after a week?
According to a Gleansight research report, when asked what the most challenging aspect of marketing automation is, 54% of respondents said it was agreeing on the right metrics to monitor. Visit Hubspot to learn more about the metrics you need to measure for your marketing automation effectiveness.
Are you marketing online? Almost 75 percent of North American residents are online. Paid search, like Google AdWords, is the quickest and easiest way to reach out to them, and if done properly, it can be inexpensive. Best of all, online data can transfer to offline projects as well. Check out WordStream’s Five Online Marketing Tips.
Step 8: Check Your Current Processes
Evaluate how efficient your current systems are. If you aren’t already, develop tracking systems for the first 7 steps we’ve talked about. Identifying and outlining your processes, step by step, is one of the most important activities you can do to grow your business. Know that they will be a work in progress. Processes can and should evolve over time, allowing you to be even more effective.
If you need assistance in developing your systems. reach out to me, or check out Digital Marketer’s great library of marketing systems.
These steps may seem overwhelming, but the follow-through will be worth your time and energy. Do your semiannual checkup on your business to help it grow!
Want another set of eyes to help you do your evaluation? Reach out I would love to discuss your business.