Economic Development and Small Business & Startups

Is your business due for a checkup?

February 1, 2013
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It’s exciting that grbj.com is launching this blog for dialogue among the West Michigan small business community. Have you started off your new year with a good health examination of your business?

It’s critical that a small business — from startup phase (with one sole employee) through its growth (with as many as 50 on one’s team) —look both inward and outward. The turn of the calendar to a new year seems a natural time to hit that refresh button.

There’s a myriad of pieces created by the CEO and team to maintain the plan that moves a company forward from ideation to success. And there are an amazing array of tools and resources to be tapped, to help an entrepreneur wrap his or her arms around the strategic direction for a company. Do you have what you need?

Defining the customer base

Having a well-defined customer base and a solid handle on how to reach those customers is critical to the foundation of your plan. The identification of a customer base that demonstrates the “need and interest” in purchasing the service or product must drive the business.

The passionate entrepreneur, while launching an enterprise with loads of energy for a product or service they personally care deeply about, must toughen up their skin and do some solid market research.

This research should quantify that there are enough interested buyers who will actually purchase what is being sold. Market research should verify there is a growing customer base. This is crucial. And a good rule of thumb is that no one customer exceeds 25 percent of revenue! Think: are you on the right track?

Understanding the numbers

Correctly pricing the product, developing solid financials and establishing a sufficient cash flow to stay current with vendors will keep an entrepreneur awake at night.

There must be the right structure in place to manage and monitor the business. Systems and processes are crucial to having what’s needed to be successful.

Having a circle of trusted advisors

Do you have a source for sound advice outside your organization: a mentor, an advisory board, a consultant or peer group?

Have you identified and contracted with service providers that you have confidence in, that have become a valued team member of the business?

Above all, if you’re working “in the business” and forgetting to pause and take time to work “on the business,” it’s likely to catch up with you! What time do you devote daily, weekly, monthly to work “on the business”?

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