Get your business healthy for 2016

By Kimberly Morrison

To ensure your business is fit and primed for success in the New Year, I advise keeping the following vital signs in check. Knowing exactly where your business stands fiscally enables you to make smart decisions when it comes to growth and expansion. How often are you looking at your P&L statement? If your frequency and consistency wavers, it’s time to hold yourself accountable. Commit to updating your P&L statement each month and do a solid review each quarter with your team to stay on track with your goals. 

Just as with personal heath and fitness, it’s often worth the investment to hire a pro, especially if this is a chore you dread and avoid. Engaging an accountant to make sure your business stays healthy and well out of the red not only leverages their expertise, but frees your time and brain space to focus on the part of your business you do best. 

Look at your business plan as your backbone

Like your P&L statement, your business plan is a living, breathing document that keeps the vision, strategy and financials of the organization sound. It also serves as a benchmark so you can check your growth and progress. Revisit it quarterly or every six months, and make revisions as needed to stay on track. This will help make growth a reality and provide an opportunity to bring key players from your business together so everyone is on the same page with deliverables and action plans required.

If your business plan needs some work, NKBA University offers a one-hour, on-demand Leadership Course ($39 for NKBA members; $47 for non-members) on “Business Execution.” It addresses how your business plan translates to execution and can improve overall productivity and efficiency. 

Check your hearing

Your employees are your business’ brain trust and their insights can prove invaluable when it comes to improving daily operations that can impact profitability. Are you listening to them? 

Good business owners know solid internal communication begets success, so transfer the energy and excitement for the start of a new year to your business by hosting a roundtable with your management team. After reviewing the business plan with the team, open it to the floor to hear how they envision the company looking in 2016 and revising the business plan, as appropriate. This meeting allows you as the leader to hone in on non-verbals and pay close attention to what most excites your colleagues, so you can assign opportunities accordingly. 

Equally important is listening to your colleagues and encouraging the sharing of knowledge internally, on a consistent basis. This not only helps prevent major mishaps or illness, but also manifests externally in the service and experience you provide, and how you listen to your clients.

Mind your (work) weight to avoid employee burnout

As a business owner or manager, it’s imperative you keep a constant pulse on your employees’ bandwidth, workload and engagement. A 2015 New York Times article reported companies where employees reported feeling well taken care of — including not working too many hours — had twice the operating profit margins of those with traditionally engaged employees, and three times the profit levels of those with the least engaged employees. 

Are you adequately staffed to take on the new initiatives and growth plans? Just as new challenges can increase employee engagement, they can also quickly tip the scale if your employees’ workload is already at max capacity. Not all employees will decline a new project, but their non-verbals can be quite revealing. Again, cue into what they are saying (and what they are not), and be mindful of the correlation between workload and the overall health and morale of your business. Employees with low engagement and heavy workloads are more inclined to seek new opportunities, especially at the start of the New Year, with resolutions top of mind.  

Pump up your management team

A solid management team empowers business owners and senior managers to work at their full potential. You may have started as a sole proprietorship, but you don’t have to do it alone; and shouldn’t have to! 

Following the roundtable (suggested above), put your key learnings into action. Engage the appropriate team members to take the lead on new projects and initiatives that best support your business plan and strategy and contribute to their professional growth. This is also a chance for you to have one-on-one dialogues with employees about how you see them growing in the coming year and taking on more responsibility as they demonstrate competency.
As you present these new opportunities and challenges, be mindful of how you sell it through. Communicate how their work and these new endeavors directly affect the overall health of the business, and the crucial role they play in its success. This ensures they feel empowered and committed to taking on the new challenges at hand. 

Kimberly Morrison, CKD, CBD, NCIDQ, ASID, IIDA, IDEC, is a certified kitchen and bath designer, as well as a certified interior designer with over 30 years of experience in the field. Currently, she is the Interior Design Program Coordinator for The Art Institute of York Pennsylvania overseeing the development and implementation of curriculum relevant to the ID and K&B fields. 

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