Plug the Leaks--How to Identify and Resolve the Blind Spots in Your Business
As businesses grow, the moving parts within that business become more complicated and numerous. You go from being a sole trader, to a team of 10, 20 or 30 staff, you engage in partnerships, you contract workers, you have advisors and other professionals looking after various components, and your output increases. Without careful attention, and a good systematic approach, it is very easy for you, the business owner, to start losing track of where each aspect of your business is at – and small leaks start to appear. These leaks are not obvious to you in plain sight but be sure that they are slowly chipping away at your profit margins and causing unwarranted pressure on your business.
You can’t fix a hole if you don’t know it’s there. Often, ‘leaks’ might be hiding in plain sight. They’re your blind spots—those weaknesses you don’t see because you don’t know where to look. In fact, a lot of small business owners only ever pay this matter attention when something drastic happens that shows them the gaping hole. At that point it is critical to fix. This kind of reactive approach is no way to run a business.
There is a solution. By taking the time to systematically review each component of your business – what we refer to as the Nine Pillars – you can start identifying blind spots and implementing a process of resolution long before they threaten your business stability.
Your business is like an ecosystem. It exists and interacts with its environment and with its own parts—processes, people, and systems.
Our Nine Pillar Framework has both foundational pillars—those parts of your business that ground it with best practices and information—and operational pillars, those parts that reach out to your customers. Here is a quick checklist you can use to assess where your business is currently at in each of the key areas.
The Foundational Pillars
Governance and compliance:
Our business has a formal monthly meeting framework, with a structured agenda, minutes and associated action plan that is reviewed monthly
At a management level, we seek and receive regular, consistent, external advice and we are confident that we have significantly reduced our ‘blind spots’
We have formalised arrangements with our banking, legal, accounting and other key advisors, and we meet with them regularly
Leadership and management:
We continually monitor key industry, consumer and regulatory trends, providing documented feedback to executives/management on a 6 monthly basis
Our Revenue per full time equivalent staff member is >$200,000 per annum
A formal vision, mission and customer value statement is available and regularly communicated to all staff, along with a summarised strategic plan outlining our future plans for the business
Technology is at the core of the way we run our business
Our use of systems is driven by a clear understand of our Processes and People, and their integration
We have appropriate risk management systems in place to protect our IT infrastructure and we know where the risks currently lie
Our process documents are all accessible online for relevant staff, and are accessed regularly by those staff
All of our business processes are documented, from answering the phone to preparing for our board meetings
We are continually adding and updating our library of documents
We receive a standard monthly financial and non-financial reporting pack from our bookkeeper/accountant, by a set date each month
We have a formal budgeting process that has been agreed and communicated across the Leadership/Executive Team that tracks BOTH financial and non-financial metrics
Our business has a daily, weekly and monthly reporting structure that reports against the budgeted financial and non-financial metrics
The Operational Pillars
Product and customer relations:
We actively refer between 10% and 30% of our prospects to more suitable partners who may also be competitors
We have documented and communicated between 2 and 4 ‘customer persona’s’ (our ideal customer)
We actively seek and receive ongoing customer feedback to test our product/market fit
Our sales team have clear weekly and monthly sales targets, which are reviewed at least monthly with them
Our sales people are clear on our sales process which is documented and regularly trained
We have a customer service and feedback platform that is fed back into our product development process regularly
We have a free product that is available online, and we sell products online
We regularly write about our business or industry, and are often mentioned or featured in industry publications
Our key influencers within the business are regularly asked to speak at public events, write for other publications and are generally asked to provide written or recorded opinions
People and partnerships:
We have written agreements that include clear financial incentives with strategic partners who are experts in the areas we are not
Our employees have clearly documented roles that outlines what success looks like, beyond a job title and remuneration
Our new hire training and on-boarding process is digitized and is a brilliant experience for the employee, and provides most of the initial training they will require
When scaling a business, it is essential that you and your management team are regularly reviewing each pillar to ensure that you are building on a strong foundation.
Get our Big Nine Scorecard HERE [free download].
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