Congrats for taking the leap and starting your own business. This may have been a long time in the making for you, and whatever your reasons are it was a brave choice! As a small business owner myself, I understand the draw, the thrill, the excitement! And the worry, the stress and the hard work!! These can sometimes feel overwhelming at times, and one of the things that I find has really helped with my clients is a bit of a small business health check.
On another note, probably important to have a normal health check as well – as SBO’s we tend to neglect that part, so make an appointment and get a quick check-up in 😉
What could a health check entail for your business? You can start this process on your own without any money being spent. Put a little time aside to reflect on your business and ask yourself some questions:
- Am I being productive or just reactive?
- Do I need to bring some professionals on board to help me with the growth of the business – accountant? Marketing? Bookkeeper? Admin help? Staff? A mentor or
- What are my goals for the business and am I hitting them?
- What is my vision and purpose?
You may or may not have answers to some of these questions, but finding some help to move along those paths and be able to answer them can certainly help.
I had this great article from the BBC forwarded onto me and it may help you as well. It reminded me of the importance of stopping and reflecting on my business and not just working in it. And helped to maximise my productivity instead of just rushing through every day, which is a trap anyone can fall into, and small business owners in particular.
I’m a bookkeeper though, and besides being in the same shoes as a lot of my clients, there are professional services that we can offer to make sure that your business is ticking along and doing the very best it can. Actually, that’s what I’m most passionate about!
I’ll take the example of the hospitality industry. Close to my heart and a favourite industry of us here at D+S. While every single café, bar and restaurant is different and individual, there are some basic percentages we can look at in a health check to see whether you are nailing it or completely off base. I’m thinking things like food costs, staff costs, potentially rent as a percentage of sales and some other operating expenses. Again, while each café will differ depending on offering, location and size there are some ranges that will go a long way to deciding if you need to be working on some sections of the business. One of the things we offer are great templates and check-ins to be able to gather this data in real-time and make fast decisions. For example, if you’re a café that is only open during the day and your wage costs are over 50% then we need to be assessing what can be done in the roster to reduce that. Do you need as many staff on as you do? Are they inexperienced and what training can be done to get the most out of them. Are they demotivated or not managed properly? While we may not be able to answer all these questions, the numbers can certainly point us to certain areas to assess.
Running your own business can feel overwhelming at the best of times and if all that you’re assessing is the bottom line, it can feel like there are far too many areas to attack at once. Do you market more to increase sales? Do you cut costs more to increase profit? All these questions!! My husband has a great quote, and I’m not sure where he pilfered it from – “Sales hide the sins”. In some ways we’re better off looking at the current costings, making sure that those percentages and practices are ship shape, and then work on the money-getting side of things.
Another industry to have a look at is construction or even professional services that are project-based. Are you using the tracking capabilities in your accounting software so that the job costings are relevant to the quote. I see it time and time again, businesses are undervaluing themselves and under-quoting, when in fact the job costs more than what you think or breaks even. With tracking we can assign each expense to category and match that up to an income and actually see what you’re making per project. Great information moving forward when drawing up quotes on similar jobs in the future.
Lastly, I like to look at the bookkeeping process and whether it’s actually providing information or a hindrance! Are you using all possible add-ons to make your life easier? Are you using a complicated excel spreadsheet because it’s free, but it takes sooooooooooooooooo long to update that the information isn’t relevant? Does payroll give you palpitations and therefore you’re not hiring staff to avoid it?
Some food for thought and hopefully something that we can help with. We have a great network of professionals around us in other fields as well if they are the expertise needed, so always feel free to ask.
Until next time!