Are You Ready for 2019?

The Eight Most Important Checkup Questions for Your Small Business

Are you happy with your business this year? What are you going to do differently? How can you hire the right people to support your vision? Sadly, many small business owners do not spend enough time planning for the future. It’s quite understandable. Managers must keep pace with the daily demands of their businesses, including payroll, taxes, product/service delivery, and customer expectations.

Fortunately, the end of the year is the perfect time for a comprehensive evaluation of your company. Your business needs a checkup. Most people can relate to a checkup with their local doctor. Depending on your background and personality characteristics (age, sex, family medical history). The doctor will conduct a variety of tests, including blood, vision, heart, and hearing. In fact, one element like an individual’s weight is not the only indicator of overall good health. Likewise, small businesses could benefit from a good checkup too. Successful entrepreneurs think strategically when engaged in a hostile, global environment. This article will examine the critical questions each small business needs to ask themselves in an effective checkup.

Today’s small businesses are experiencing the realities of a hypercompetitive economy. In fact, buyers are smarter and savvy about purchasing their products and services. With a swipe on their smartphones, consumers have unlimited information and options. According to a 2004 Small Business Administration (SBA) study, 580,900 small businesses opened in 2005, and 576,200 closed. The SBA noted that 67% of these new companies were able to survive at least 2 years, while 44 percent survived at least 4 years. Thus, if small businesses are doing the wrong things, it’s a possibility that they will fail if they do not make the necessary corrections.

Small businesses and entrepreneurs have the necessary capacity to change their way of thinking because of their passion. Entrepreneur and CEO of Chobani Hamdi Ulukaya explains, “Every small business will give you an entrepreneurial way of looking at things. I guarantee you that for every plant that closes, if you gave it to one small-business person in that community, he or she would find a way to make it work. The small-business attitude is you always find a way to make it work.” In general, there are issues that most small businesses struggle to overcome.

After 27 years of managing projects and conducting over 100 organizational evaluations of business organizations, I realize that both large and small organizations struggle in implementing their operations effectively. With the appropriate diagnosis of an organization, a business can develop more sustainable success. Thus, the right checkup is critical. Below are some critical questions to help you conduct your own self-checkup:

1. Do you have a clear vision for your business? What is it?

2. Do you know why your customers buy from you and why others do not buy from you?

3. What results are you getting from your marketing? Do you have an effective online presence on the web?

4. Are you collecting data or the right kind of data on your customers and competitors?

5. Are you keeping pace with your industry trends? If so, what are the key trends?

6. How are you measuring results (i.e., key performance indicators like cash flow and revenue)?

7. What are your key competitors’ marketing strategies?

8. Have you evaluated your strengths and weaknesses (i.e., SWOT Analysis)?

In summary, successful global businesses like IBM and Google have continuous systems in place to evaluate their performance. Let’s call this process an organizational checkup. Small businesses that want to succeed in this global and technological climate must be able to conduct this self-evaluation or checkup. This article demonstrated the relevancy of a good checkup to help improve a business by asking probing questions. In many cases, small businesses do not have to take on this organizational checkup along. There are various organizations like the Small Business Administration and local universities that can assist in this process. Have you conducted a checkup for your business this year? It’s not too late. Start the new year with a healthy business checkup.

© 2018 by D. D. Green

About Dr. Daryl Green:

Dr. Daryl Green provides consulting, guidance, and management training for today’s small businesses. He is the Dickinson Chair at Oklahoma Baptist University. He and his students have assisted more than 20 businesses in the region with marketing and management expertise. If you would like more information about this article or business assistance, please contact Dr. Green at daryl.green@okbu.edu or visit www.drdarylgreen.com.