6 tips to improve your business' health

Making time to work on your business, rather than in it, can pay dividends in many different ways. These six tips will help you on your way.

1. Dust off your business plan for a smoother run 

It’s a good idea to undertake a new SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats), and this time make it a strategic SWOT. Don’t end with just a ‘laundry list’ of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. That’s too easy and seldom adds value.

The real value of a SWOT is to then develop strategy:

  • How can you use those top three strengths to capitalise on your opportunities?
  • How can you use your strengths to overcome your threats?
  • How do you prevent your weaknesses from limiting your opportunities?
  • What actions can you put in place to mitigate any damage if your weaknesses and threats coincide?

You might end up with 20 potential strategies. But you can’t physically implement them all, so pick your top three and implement them.

Once you’ve ticked them off, then pick your next three, and so on. When choosing which ones to prioritise, I like to pick those that are easier to implement but have a high potential impact.

2. Future-proof your business strategy

‘Future-proofing’ is all about anticipating the future and developing strategies for minimising shock and capitalising on opportunities.

Setting physical goals like ‘to run a marathon’ is not uncommon, but you have to have plans in place for when injury strikes or your training is thrown off track.

Your business plan requires the same attention and it should be a priority. We use a simple process – ‘now, where, how’. This requires thought about where the business is NOW, WHERE you want to be in the future and an action plan to work out HOW you are going to get there.

Your SWOT analysis will help you establish the ‘how’ so you can make goals and identify any hurdles your business could face. But you’ll need to have clarity around your vision so that you know WHERE your business is headed.

3. Undertake a risk assessment

A risk assessment should be an integral part of your planning process. Recognising potential threats to your business is the first step to developing a plan to manage and even avoid them.

When undertaking a risk assessment, you should identify any likely risks your business faces and estimate the potential impact of these risks so you can plan and prioritise accordingly.

Some examples of questions you should ask yourself are: what happens if key employees get sick or injured and can’t do their job; or what would you do if the building you operate from is affected by a fire or flood?

Think about all possible things that could go wrong and put in place strategies to mitigate those risks.

4. Focus on the small steps

Success doesn’t always involve making massive changes to turn the business around. Often, many small changes can make a big difference.

Despite this, some business owners think that their panacea can be achieved simply by increasing prices and increasing sales.

In business, just as in sport, it’s generally the one-percenters that put your business above the crowd. Small, achievable changes made to a handful of areas can have a multiplied effect on return on capital employed (ROCE).

5. Reduce waste in your business

If you don't think you have waste in your business, try thinking about the waste in your home – wasted power, wasted water, wasted food and wasted money – particularly if you have children. Now try putting a dollar figure to this. Then do the same with your business. You'll be amazed at how much waste you'll find.

You can then apply the simple (yet powerful) Seven Wastes methodology of lean manufacturing to develop strategies to reduce those wastes and add thousands to your bottom line.

6. Consider your estate planning

No amount of healthy eating and exercise can make you invincible, which is why you must plan for the inevitable future and ensure your family is prepared when you are no longer around. The same needs be done for your business. 

Estate planning is more than just having an up-to-date will. However, if you haven't reviewed your will in the last couple of years, now is the time to make sure it accurately represents your wishes.

Making time to review your assets and planning how they will be managed after your death will not only give you peace of mind, but it will ensure you preserve wealth for your family. Stop putting it off!

Many people don't realise that a lot of our assets are not really ‘ours’. Things like your jointly owned family home, your super and anything held in a family trust are most likely not ‘your’ assets to leave, so be sure that you have thought things through when drafting your will.

The key is to ensure that those assets end up where you want them to end up. Ideally, ask your accountant to review it for you and work with your lawyer when drafting it.

Grant Field is the managing director of MGI South Queensland and executive chairman of MGI Australasia, a global alliance of independent accountants and business advisers.

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