How to Review Your Business

Written by: Alan Rodway - Your Coach Online

No matter the size, nature, industry, location or aims of a business, it must be properly and formally reviewed regularly to achieve success . This article comprehensively outlines how to go about effectively conducting a review.

There are twenty (20) areas of a business that should be reviewed and these are listed below, including aspects within each area that should be covered. Internal reviews of a business can be effective up to a point but, sometimes, external expertise needs to be added to the mix to maximize objectivity and for a fresh viewpoint. Every business should undergo a formal review yearly . Whilst this entails a solid
resource commitment, to not do so is to risk failure. Competition in business is greater than ever and change is faster than ever.

The twenty areas that should be covered in the review are listed below. Some important aspects are listed for each area, but the list is not exhaustive. Evaluation of each aspect can be either subjective and/or objective, depending on the aspect itself, as should be obvious from the list.

  1. Stakeholders’ Objectives: Are the objectives of stakeholders clear (with stakeholders being defined in a broad sense)? Are the objectives aligned across stakeholders? Are the objectives a key driver of directions and strategies of the business
  2. Legal, Tax, Trading Structures: Are these structures the most appropriate for the business, all things considered? Has expert advice been taken in setting up the structures? When was the last time the structures were reviewed (expertly)?
  3. Mission, Vision, Values: Are these clear? Are they known throughout the business? Are they lived? How are they communicated to new people?
  4. Directions, Strategies, Key Measurable Objectives: Are the directions and key strategies of the business clear, in writing and known throughout the business? Are they reviewed (and adapted) regularly and by whom? Are key measurable objectives in place, tracked and used for business adjustments … to ensure the directions and strategies are working?
  5. Planning, Decision making, Governance: What planning sessions are in place and how effective are they? Is there a business plan in place, is it ‘real’, adapted when necessary and surrounded by accountability? What succession planning is in place for key people, key clients, key suppliers and equity? Are brainstorming sessions a regular part of plotting the future? Is benchmarking (industry, competitors, the past) used to gauge performance? Is appropriate governance in place, to protect the business as well as to aid effective decision making? What reporting exists within the business and how is it used? Does the business have all required/desirable policies in place? Is an up to date, comprehensive, expertly written shareholders’ agreement in place? Is the value of the business regularly estimated?
  6. Market Positioning: What market segments is the business currently involved in and could it be involved in? What competitor information is used by the business? What market research is used?
  7. Offer To The Market: Is the business’s offer to the market (what it supplies, how it supplies it, how it delivers it, how it prices it) clear? Is it well understood within? How well is it regarded within? How well is it promoted to the market? How does it compare to competitors’ offers? How often is it reviewed? Is it (significantly) different to competitors?
  8. Internal organisation & structure: Is it clear, known and understood within and effective? How often is it formally reviewed for change?
  9. Marketing, Target Customers: This is a massive area for any business, but to list some of the aspects that should be looked at … forms of marketing used, brand v product marketing, digital marketing expertise and use, tracking of results (including conversions), existence and effectiveness of a marketing plan, clarity of target and acceptable customer, generation and tracking of referrals, use and effectiveness of a database, use and effectiveness of a CRM.
  10. Sales capability & performance: Is the approach to sales effective (e.g. people, automation)? What tracking of sales performance exists? How are sales people upskilled to modern approaches? Does each sales person have a sales plan? How effectively is cross selling and up selling being conducted? What forms of prospecting are used and are they effective? How successfully are repeat sales generated? How are leads qualified?
  11. People & Performance: This is another very broad area, so to list a few of the aspects that should be reviewed … Staff engagement, leadership, teamwork, culture, job role clarity, accountability, empowerment, recruitment, selection, performance management, training and development, talent management.
  12. Customer Service & Satisfaction: How is this measured, how accurately and how often? What is done with the results? What is the dollar value of increases in customer satisfaction?
  13. Risk management & Insurances: How well are the business’s major risks understood? Are practices in place to avert them? How well are those practices adhered to within? Are appropriate insurances (coverage and cost) in place to cover events that could harm the business, its people or the public? Are written agreements in place with major suppliers and customers? Is a formal risk audit ever conducted and by whom?
  14. Financial management: This is an area that is too often poorly handled by privately owned businesses and is very large, so to list a few of the important aspects … formal budgeting (Profit & Loss, Cash Flow), formal reporting, finance and accounting expertise that is available and utilised, working relationship with the external accountant, tax planning, margins (tracking and management of them), pricing, breakeven analysis, debt management, capital expenditure, use of key financial data, accounting software, exchange rate (protection).
  15. Administration: Are administration staff appropriate in number and capability? Are
    the administration processes adequate and effective? Is the administration area
    ‘connected’ to other parts of the business, e.g. sales, marketing, operations, I.T?
  16. Operations & Workflow: Is the operational side of the business effective (i.e. it works) and efficient (i.e. maximum output per input)? What key measures are in place? Are appropriate processes and systems in place and how often are they reviewed? Are all internal procedures clear, understood and followed?
  17. Premises, Equipment & Facilities: Are each of these adequate, effective and efficient? What planning is conducted for the future of each of these?
  18. Information and Technology (I.T.): Is there an I.T. plan in place? Are there I.T. policies in place? Is there a disaster recovery plan and is it regularly tested? Does the business access adequate I.T. expertise, operationally and for planning the future? Are there appropriate checks and balances in place to protect the business re I.T? Is I.T. integrated with the rest of the business, e.g. sales, marketing, operations, administration?
  1. Stock and supply management (for businesses that provide or use goods) : What systems are in place to manage stock/supplies? What use is made of I.T. to manage stock/supplies? How often are stock takes conducted and are they sufficiently accurate? How are stock/supply levels managed? What key statistics are used to manage stock/supplies? Is enough being done to maximize ‘terms’ with suppliers and customers?
  2. X Factor : Does the business have a genuine X factor? If not, should it create one? If so, can competitors replicate it in (the near) future?

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