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Top Action Steps to Grow Your Business

Author: Larry Chester, President

The economy today looks very different than it did two years ago. Although inventory is still problematic, the economy is heated and inflation is still taking off.

So, what can you do?

Here are the top action steps to grow your business post-pandemic.

Your To-Do List: Grow Your Business

Here are our top ‘to-do’s’ to focus on that will give your business the growth you need.

FINANCIAL

  • Meet with your bank. Banks get nervous. They don’t know how your business has been affected over the past two years. Don’t surprise them. Arrange for a meeting to discuss your plans and your concerns, and tell them the kind of help you need. Consider discussing the following questions.
    • How has your business changed? How have your sales been impacted?
    • How will your overhead expenses change as you grow your business?
    • What is your profit picture through the end of the year?
    • If you need more money, explain why you need it and how you’re going to pay it back.
  •  Create a cash flow forecast. This way, you can understand what your needs are going forward.
  • Examine your open AR. Contact each of your open accounts. How many of them are not able to pay what’s due? You’re operating as their bank. You don’t want surprises either.
  • Reexamine your annual budget. Ensure you have a full understanding of your sales, costs, and expected net income.

HUMAN RESOURCES

  • Determine your optimum staff level. If you’ve reduced or grown staff, you may be operating with a new normal. Examine operations over the past year and set a new standard.
  • Inform employees of changes to hours, pay, or benefits. If you’re currently reducing staff, benefits, or pay, be upfront or morale will suffer. Reduce staff once—to the deepest level you’re expecting. Don’t do it in stages; everyone will be waiting to see if they’re in the next round.
  • Establish a policy about work environments. Do you allow remote work? Are your employees expected to come into the office on a full-time or hybrid schedule? Establish a policy so it’s handled uniformly, then communicate it to everyone.
  • Revise your employee manual. This is your company’s rulebook. All the changes assure everyone has the same information.
  • Establish a consistent policy for terminations and layoffs. Review it with an employment attorney to avoid problems down the road. Employees might consider some of your actions discriminatory. Planning will pay off handsomely.

BUSINESS PLAN

  • Evaluate how your business has changed. A business plan isn’t something that you just create when you start a company, it’s a strategic plan for how you’re going to manage and grow over the next two, five, and 10 years. The pandemic changed plans for nearly every business. Take time to review how your business has changed as well as any future goals.
  • Update your strategic plan. Now that you have the list of how your business has changed, update your strategic plan. It’s a playbook for how you’re going to operate into the future.
  • Decide how your products/services and delivery have changed.
    • If any, decide what products or services you’re going to phase in or phase out. Understand the effect on your customers, suppliers, and inventory on the floor.
    • Let your customers know of your changes and provide alternative solutions. Remain a trusted resource for your customers.
    • If your cost structure has changed recently, update your pricing. Be sure that you give your customers fair warning. It could spur sales before the increase.
    • If you make product changes, keep your staff knowledgeable. As a customer, it’s very frustrating to find out about changes to products you buy, especially if nobody at the source knows the answers. Be knowledgeable and reliable.

COMPUTER SYSTEMS

  • Employees have new equipment so they can work remotely. Laptops require different policies than desktops. Be sure your employees understand company policies, which should be in your employee manual.
  • Working remotely puts your network at risk. As a result of increased phishing activities, your company faces more hacking and ransomware threats. Ensure each employee understands the risk of opening emails that come from uncertain sources. Unusual requests should be treated suspiciously.

FACILITIES

  • What is “needed?” Remote work has created a different understanding of what is “needed.” If your company no longer needs large office space, determine your actual requirements. Every square foot you rent adds to your expenses and reduces your profit.
  • Negotiate with your landlord about changes to your lease. You might be able to reduce your footprint and your costs. If you don’t feel comfortable having the conversation, get some skilled help. A commercial realtor or real estate attorney might be all you need to get a new deal.

CUSTOMERS

  • Contact your primary customers to tell them you’ve reopened and are ready for business.
  • Evaluate each customer and decide if you should establish new credit terms for them, based on how they’ve behaved over the last two years.
  • Put a plan in place to reach out to existing and new customers to offer new products/programs (if you’ve opened new product lines).

Lastly, be sure to reach out for additional help from professionals who can assist in areas that are not your area of expertise. Talking to an employment attorney, banker, commercial realtor, marketing expert, and even a CFO can make sure that you make the right decisions with the least amount of stress.

Infographic for "Top Action Steps to Grow Your Business"

Do You Need a Part-Time CFO?

The current business environment can turn even the strongest stomach. Many issues need to be addressed. Having a checklist makes much of that easier to handle.

Perhaps, you need a CFO to help tackle this list. Read on to find out if your business is ready for a part-time CFO.

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