Too few business owners find time to sit back and simply think. Make some time now and assess what changes you would like to make over the next twelve months. What would you most like to achieve? What has historically caused you the biggest headaches? Some of you may wish to free up more time to spend with family, others may wish to focus on improving profit levels or turnover.
A good first step is to dust off your old business plan and review it. What did you plan to do but did not; what did and did not work; what has changed since you wrote the plan? A business plan should not just be something you wrote in order to obtain the bank loan and then discard; the business plan should be a working model to help guide and shape the business, a way of plotting a course to achieve the goals you set yourself. As such it will change over time as technology, your market and your own aims evolve.
Taking time out to review and revise the plan, more than anything, means you spend time thinking about what the business is doing and where it is going. Time when you are truly working ON, not IN, the business, lifting your nose away from the grind stone to look at the bigger picture.
A good second step is to implement, or improve existing systems within your business. This will help the business to operate more efficiently and produce consistent results. Consider increasing turnover; do you currently have any proactive systems in place to win new work or do you sit and wait for new work to come to you? Think of it as pillars supporting a roof, each pillar being a different system of bringing new work in. If you have but a single pillar the roof will be very unstable but as each new pillar is added it becomes more and more secure.
A system should be a method of doing something that any reasonably competent person can follow to produce the desired results. A major benefit of this is that it can allow you to delegate more, freeing your time to do what only you can do, running the business, or as additional leisure time for yourself. It should also result in more consistent and improved performance thus improving profitability.
And the good news is you do not have to do this by yourself. A good business advisor can help you with this process, from revising the business plan to identifying the most critical areas to work on (to achieve your desired goals) to helping devise and implement new systems.
A business plan should be a roadmap for your business. Used properly it can be a key tool in organising your thoughts and actions to drive the business forward.
It is worth taking at least half a day every 3-6 months with your business adviser, to review the plan; think about what is working and what is not; what you planned to do but have not yet actioned and where changes to the plan are necessary or beneficial. Doing this means you will spend some quality time just thinking about and working on the business and should produce some powerful results.