For businesses who find they have a lull in activity during the winter, it can be the perfect time to re-group and get organized with projects that you don’t have time to focus on during the busy season.

You can put your down time to good use by evaluating these six aspects of your business and making the needed adjustments.

Staffing

Having the right team in place keeps your time and attention free to focus on your role as CEO of your company.

As you consider what’s working and what’s not working in your business, give some thought to:

  • Each team member’s role and daily responsibilities – what adjustments need to be made to improve efficiency and productivity
  • Onboarding new team members – to increase capacity and balance the workload among your existing staff
  • Leveraging the expertise of freelancers and consultants – this can be more cost effective solution than hiring an employee
  • Delegating: If your daily to do list is consistently longer than you can manage, you’re likely focusing on too many of the wrong things
  • How projects are tracked and managed – using a system to centralize information and track the progress of each project (instead of communicating via email) allows you to invest your team’s energy in the highest payoff activities

Business slowed down? Make the most of it! Great tips to take advantage of your slow season:    Tweet This

Cash Flow & Credit

Maintaining your cash flow is critical to being able to purchase inventory, pay vendors and meet your payroll obligations. If you’ve ever been faced with having to put out more cash than you have coming in, you know you want to do everything possible to avoid that situation again.

If you’re not sure about the basics of successful cash flow management, a good place to start is by understanding the basic principles. Developing an effective cash flow policy can help ensure you are paid on time and can help satisfy your outgoing expenses.

Don’t fall into the myth of thinking that because you’re a small business your credit score doesn’t matter. Building a strong business credit file may improve your chances to:

  • Qualify for loans
  • Lower your interest rates
  • Attract new customers
  • Increase your cash flow
  • Negotiate better payment terms

If you’re not sure what your business credit score looks like, Dun and Bradstreet (D&B) can help. CreditBuilder™ Plus can help you build and maintain a strong business credit file, which may help improve your ability to negotiate terms and conditions, or secure a loan or contract.

Expense Control

It’s easy to find yourself spending money on products or services you don’t really need. Download your bank and credit card statements for the last three months. Review each line item and make a note about what the product or service actually is.

Ask yourself:

  • How is this product or service helping me save time, effort or money?
  • Am I spending money on this product or service in multiple ways?
  • Am I really getting the value out of this service that I should be getting?
  • Is there a different plan that would work better for my current and future needs?

Where necessary, take a moment to submit a cancellation or downgrade request for the products and services you don’t really need.

Marketing

The easiest way to get better results and decrease your expenses is to do more of what’s working and less of what’s not.

Here are some areas of your marketing efforts to analyze:

  • Make a list of all of the clients you’ve worked with over the past 12 months and determine where the lead originally came from. Was it a referral, from your website, an event you spoke at, etc.?
  • Review the results of your email marketing campaigns to see which messages generated the best open, click-through and share rates.
  • Download reports from your social media profiles and see which posts over the past 3-6 months have received the most engagement.

Perhaps you use pay-per-click advertising, networking, blogging or other marketing strategies to attract new leads and generate business. For each of the strategies you use, review your reports over the last 3-12 months and identify what specific activity generated the best results. Commit to doing more of what’s working and less of what’s not.

Sales

As you expand existing product lines or introduce new services, you’ll want to assess your sales process to ensure that the right systems are in place to help you convert leads to customers.

Review each of your offerings and determine:

  • How are prospective customers first introduced to this product or service?
  • What information do prospects need to educate them about the benefits of investing in the product or service?
  • How does this information need to be conveyed to the prospect (i.e. written documents, videos, tutorials, phone conversations, meetings, etc.)?
  • What questions need to answered?
  • What objections typically arise when discussing the purchase of this product or service?
  • How are we tracking a prospect’s interest level?
  • What are we doing to ensure that every new customer becomes a customer for life?

The answers to these questions will help you identify areas of your sales process that need attention and improvement.

Technology

Every day you’re using a variety of software, hardware and mobile devices to manage and grow your business.

To get the best return on your investment, it’s critical to make sure you have the right technology in place to support the specific needs of your company.

Consider:

  • Does it make sense to purchase or lease our hardware?
  • Can we centralize information for our team and make communication more efficient by using an online project management system?
  • Do we have a cloud-based back-up system in place to protect business and customer data?
  • Are we able to communicate effectively on the go with our mobile devices?
  • Can an app or an automated system take the place of traditional software and save us money?

Consulting with an IT professional who specializes in working with small businesses can yield significant savings in time and money spent using technology.

For each of the aforementioned elements of your business, you want to assess where you’re at, what key issues or opportunities exist and what specific action you’ll take to improve or maintain the situation.

This is also a great time to congratulate yourself on all that you have accomplished over the past year and enjoy reviewing the progress you’ve made.

As you consider the goals you have for your business for the coming twelve months, having this analysis at your fingertips will help you craft an action plan that can lead to success. You can feel confident and empowered knowing you’re making strategic decisions based on data and facts.

Photo Credit: duangbj, Twenty20