Taken your company's pulse lately?
- 25 August, 2008 22:00
We all reach a time in life where we stop taking our health for granted. In our youth we have few cares. I’ve reached that age where the body is starting to pay me back with bones crunching and joints creaking. I’m not that old (honestly), but it has made me think that I’m no longer invincible and have taken a pro-active approach by having regular health checks.
So, what’s this got to do with your business? Well, the reality is your business, like your body, keeps chugging along. You are probably OK, but as with your health, prevention is better than cure. Whereas you would turn to a doctor as an external trained expert on your health, would you do the same for your business? Go on, ask yourself that question.
There will be a bunch a people out there going: “Why would I do that, I know my business and its challenges better than anyone else.” But do you? Or are you simply too close and emotionally embroiled in its day to day running to notice the areas where you are no longer doing as well as you should? Or even worse, areas where your competitors have stolen a march on you?
I’ve been involved with the print media for many years and recently undertook a “health check” for a publisher. When you’re on the outside looking in, the view is somewhat different and a whole lot clearer. You get to cut to the real issues, challenges and opportunities.
Everything you do in regards to your business is naturally coloured by your history with it. Your understanding of its mechanics and the reasons behind the business decisions you’ve taken, gives you a perspective on your business that has been formed in light of that knowledge. But your customers don’t see this whole picture, and neither should they.
Their perception of what you do and how you do it is only focused on their interactions with you. They have no interest in you justifying your decisions, or putting up with so-so customer service, because you think the way you’ve always handled things is good enough. Looking at your business through their eyes can often be an enlightening experience.
So, what does this mean for your business? When, for instance, was the last time you took a long, hard look at your entire business – supply chain, governance, funding/investment, sales model, support, operations, branding, marketing, succession planning and your exit strategy. Just as many of us are prompted to get a personal health check by either a downturn in our own health or someone close to us suffering poor health, many companies never brush the dust off their business plan from the day it is written until they need to raise capital, face an unexpected economic downturn or watch a competitor go belly up.
If you’ve examined all the elements of your business in the past six months and done so without emotion, then good on you.
If you haven’t, then think about getting a ‘second opinion’. It will cost you. However, like going to the doctor for the health check, you need to invest to get the right, expert unbiased help.
All too often we view getting external help in managing our business purely as an “expense” instead of an “asset”. As for your own health, self-diagnosis has its limitations and it can take a trained professional to get beyond the symptoms of a problem to the actual cause.
There is plenty of assistance out there, admittedly some is better than others and generally you pay for what you get. But it is worth the effort to get an independent view of how your company really is performing and how to keep it in optimal health. There are, for example, some really good New Zealand developed ‘self-help’ software options available.
You can keep moving along, dealing with the inevitable growing pains (or equally inevitable restrictions of maturity) or you can be proactive and get true clarity on the way forward. Go on – breathe fresh life into your company – before it requires resuscitation.
Bob Pinchin is the director of Sway.tech, a specialist communications house for technology companies. Email: email@example.com