When is the last time you sat back and analyzed your business from a new and different perspective? Have you ever done a “360 degree” analysis of your own business? We often hear of 360’s being done for a team, or as a part of a performance review. But what does it mean to complete a 360 for your business – and why would you do one?
Well, what I mean by a business 360 is looking at all areas of your own business through a new lens. It means looking not just at financials and marketing and sales, but also looking at the whole picture. It means, asking yourself what you can do to improve the areas you often tend to neglect. It means looking deeper into some areas you never thought you needed to look at. So if you want to gain new insights into your company, find ways to improve, launch strategies you may never have thought of, and strengthen the overall health and wellness of your company, keep reading.
To do a successful 360-degree analysis of your business, I recommend focusing on 11 key factors. This may sound like a lot at first, but I promise it will be quick and easy. Think of this as a Top 10 list with a bonus item! We focus at these factors: financial management, bookkeeping, strategic planning, marketing, sales, customer service, business systems/operations, human resources, leadership, work/life balance, and exit/succession planning.I’ve listed several powerful questions for each of these 11 areas. If you can answer at least three questions in each area, you may gain a new perspective on your own business. Here’s how to do it:
Financial management means looking at the big picture of your money situation. Are you making a profit? If so, what are you doing with that profit? Are you reinvesting some of it into your business or withdrawing it for personal use? If you’re reinvesting it, are you planning for growth? Financial management means strategically using the numbers you see – and understanding that they are more than just numbers.
Do you know how to read financial statements strategically and use them as decision-making tools? By delving deeper, do you have investments, buildings, expensive machinery, or other large assets that you can use to generate further income?
Answering these questions can really help you take your company’s financial management to the next level. If you don’t have a response to some of them, that’s OK. It may be a signal that it’s time to dig deeper into your company’s financial systems—so they work for you, instead of you working for them.
Next comes bookkeeping, which is different than financial management. Bookkeeping is the “keeping track of the day-to-day” invoicing, bill payments, and cash flow parts of your business. Your bookkeeping gives you all the numbers you need to build your financial statements.
Do you get regular reports about your business’s cash flow, revenue, and expenses from your bookkeeper? Do you know how your business is doing on a day-to-day and week-to-week basis, so you can make adjustments in real time?
Do you have a quick turnaround for your Accounts Receivable (the money your customers owe you, after you sell them a product/service) and a process for collecting those customer payments quickly?
The next part of your business to look at is strategic planning. When is the last time you and/or your executive team sat down and planned strategically? Do you have a strong Vision, Mission, and Core Values Statement that you use on a regular basis to guide your business? Have you completed a SWOT Analysis (SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) to look both inside your business for strengths and weaknesses, and outside your business for opportunities and threats in the industry, the economy and beyond?
How much time do you spend planning for your business’s future?
The next part of your business to look at is marketing. Do you have a strategic marketing plan? Do you plan out your marketing activities on a calendar for the year? Do you track the effectiveness of your marketing? How much do you spend on marketing? Do you measure it and adjust it based on the results? Do you know your target market? What is your business’s brand—the image you present to your customers?
Another area to look at is sales. When you’re really busy it can be hard to track sales numbers, but these numbers are the best indication of how you’re doing on a day-to-day basis, so they need to be reviewed regularly. Do you have a process for managing sales? Do you track your leads or potential sales against your actual sales? Do you have a sales team or a sales person? Do they have a process to follow? Do they report their progress? Do you track their effectiveness?
Customer service is one area where owners tend to give their business high marks. I have yet to hear an owner say they have bad customer service! But do you have a process for customer service? Do you have a defined customer experience that every customer enjoys, every time they do business with you? Have you trained your team on how to deliver this customer or client experience? Do you survey your customers regularly to ask them how their experience was? Do you follow up with customers after a sale, thank them for coming, and invite them back?
The next area of your business is one of the most important, and it impacts every other area – Business systems or processes. Many of the questions above asked if you have a process for sales, or a process for bookkeeping, for collecting accounts receivables, for daily operations, and so on. All areas of your business should be systematized. Do you have a procedures manual or training videos? Does everyone in your company who does the same thing do it in the same way? Are you able to meet deadlines? Do you produce high and consistent quality? Are you able to take time off without worrying about whether things are getting done while you’re gone?
Human resources is also a very important part of your business, regardless of whether you have employees, contractors, suppliers, or strategic partners. When you hire someone, do you have a hiring process that’s well defined and ensures you hire the right person for the right job? Do you have great job descriptions? Do you have an onboarding and training system that sets up your employees for success? Do you have a retention process? Do you engage your employees? Are they working at their best? Do you hire superstars? Do you retain superstars?
Your own leadership can affect the success of your business. Do you plan your business strategically, and then have your team map out the best ways to implement the strategy? Are you a great leader? Do you inspire and motivate everyone around you? Do you lead by example? How well do you make decisions? Do you lead, manage, or boss around the people on your team? Are you organized? Are you productive?
Your business begins with you as the leader. As we mentioned under leadership, your business starts with you. How good are you at getting things done, are you organized, do you plan, how well do you make decisions? But all work and no play is not healthy either. Keeping a balance is key. Do you have work/life balance? Do you get time to do the things you enjoy most? Do you get enough family time? Do you get to spend time with friends? Do you spend time away from work and get to enjoy it?
Finally, thinking about exit and succession planning is also crucial. Do you have an exit plan? Do you know the value of your business? Do you plan to sell your business? Is your business maximized for value if you do decide to sell it? Does your business rely on you to get the day-to-day completed? Do you look at your business strategically? Are you consistently increasing revenue and profit from year to year? Do you have a will and an estate plan for yourself? Do you have a personal mission and a personal financial plan?
These 11 areas of your business are the key pieces to focus on; ask yourself hard questions about each area. If you are doing great in all areas, congratulations! You probably have great systems and processes, have a great team, and delegate and lead your company well. If some of the questions above concerned you, then this 360 assessments was probably worth going through – and maybe even opened your eyes to some areas to look at more closely.
I recommend reading this again and taking note of the areas that need more attention. If you’re unsure how to proceed in a certain area, now is the time to explore and find out the best answers. Getting a new perspective on your business can help you hone in on areas of improvement that you may never have seen before, but may be the very things that are keeping you from being profitable.
At Thrive, we do an even more in-depth 360 assessment with every client. We help you to see your blind spots – and help ask questions that may be hard to answer at first but could be the key to breaking through that plateau you seem to never be able to break through. At the very least, we hope this article has given you a new perspective, a new lens to see your business through, and new opportunities for improving both the planning and operations of your business.