Every year, you should refresh the metrics you use to evaluate how well your small business is doing.
Be honest. Do you regularly think about the state of your business, or do you catch yourself on autopilot?
The only way for these metrics to be useful is to actually USE them. So, now that we’re halfway through 2013, it’s time to ask yourself that important question: How is your business doing?
There are plenty of ways to go about evaluating your business depending on which factors are most important to you, but we’ve put together a few categories to get the ball rolling. Here are four ways you might begin to tackle the evaluation process.
Are you bringing people in the door?
Are you constantly staging big, expensive promotions and wringing your hands over how to get new customers in the door? Or, can you smile and wave to people in town who you recognize from visits to your business time and again?
Always think about how you can most efficiently acquire new customers and hang on to the ones you have.
And remember, keeping your most loyal — and most vocal — customers happy is a huge factor, one that starts and ends with out-of-this-world customer service.
Are your customers happy?
If you’re only paying attention to this factor a couple of times a year, it’s definitely time to reevaluate some things. Customer feedback doesn’t just happen on comment cards anymore! And while you can’t be a fly on your customers’ walls, you can keep your ear to the ground and pay attention to what people are saying about you.
Be sure to monitor Yelp, TripAdvisor, Angie’s List, Twitter and other sites for mentions of your business. Better still, create accounts on those sites to acknowledge and respond to customer comments, both positive and negative.
You might also consider being more proactive in soliciting customer feedback. Send a quick online survey (key word: QUICK!) to your e-mail list and offer an incentive, like a Restaurant.com Gift Card, for their time and honesty.
Are you biting off more than you can chew?
If tackling even the first two items on this list feels overwhelming or impossible, you could be trying to do too much.
Overcommitting and overworking are occupational hazards for small business owners — it can be tempting to try to do everything single-handedly to keep overhead low and save as much money as possible. (And, of course, the best form of quality control is doing everything yourself.)
But if there are tasks you dread or crucial things falling by the wayside as you sweat the really, really small stuff, it could be time to outsource. As you reevaluate during the summer months, there might still be time to bring in some part-time summer help from high school and college kids on break!
Are you doing what you set out to do?
And, as always, make sure you’re staying true to the mission you established when you started your business. Periodically examining whether you’re doing what you set out to do — and being honest about the direction of your business — may seem “deep” and a little philosophical, but it’s essential to keep your small business moving in the right direction.
After all, if you don’t have that drive, how do you expect to motivate your customers to stay with you?
It’s important to evaluate your business not only at the end of the year but also at points throughout the year; the most successful businesses are nimble and able to make small adjustments as needed when something isn’t working. (Or amp up the areas that are working really well to capitalize on them!)
With six months of the year already behind us, have you thought about what’s working and what isn’t within your small business?