A Business Best Practice Tool

By Paden Hughes

At a recent networking mixer, I was introduced to a newcomer who did not know what Collaboration LLC was and what we mean when we say we’re “consultants.”  He asked politely, as one must do at a local networking event, “So what kind of consulting?”  Our standard reply is “small business consulting,” to which he responded with the customary follow up question, “What does small business consulting mean?”

I understand, to simply say “small business consulting” can be too general at face value to provide a full description of what we do. People seem to want us to say “wealth management consulting” or “marketing consulting” or “time-to-market consulting.” And on top of that, the word “consultant” seems to be synonymous with “solopreneur-who-picked-a-niche-they-think-they-know-more-about-than-those-doing-it-every-day-in-their-jobs.”  Every industry has a stereotype you have to rise above, and consulting is no different.

We’ve intentionally chosen small business as our niche, because we aren’t function or industry specific (and it happens to be a very useful niche in this hotbed of start ups and entrepreneurs we call San Luis Obispo).

We specialize in helping technicians make the transition to business owner. We help those who went to school for specialized expertise or trade mastery to think like a business owner and effectively grow and manage the “business” of their business. So when it comes to pushing your business to a level that exceeds your personal understanding, or history, we step in to assess and fine tune your key areas that are not industry-specific.

What Makes 80% of Small Businesses the Same?

Small business is 80% the same across the board, and 20% industry-specific. Now to some, this can seem like an offensive statement, especially to business owners in technical fields such as engineering or architecture, who believe the ratio should be the inverse. But what we mean when we say this is that for a young business, or one pushing to the next level of growth, there are a number of key metrics we can use to gauge the overall health of the business.

Every organization needs to know what financial measurements they have to be aware of, and monitor their cash needs and flow issues. Every business needs to know how to evaluate sales activities. Every business leader needs to understand how to get work done through others and the power of delegation. Every business owner needs to evaluate their operational bottlenecks and watch for gaps in their ability to produce the product or service they are providing to their clients.

Best Practice Tool: The Business Diagnostic Checklist

Our Business Diagnostic Checklist comprises almost all the Best Practices we have witnessed in the last 20 years working with hundreds of clients.

We focus on the 4 key quadrants of a business:

  1. Sales & Marketing
  2. Operations & Production
  3. Management & Team Development
  4. Finance & Legal

The Business Diagnostic Checklist walks through each quadrant and lists the tools, processes, and metrics by which each one can be evaluated.  We then consider two questions for every item on the list:

  1. Does the company have this tool/strategy in place?
  2. Do they consistently use the tool/strategy?

Simply knowing a tool or strategy does not mean you are using it effectively, so we pay attention to the implementation of the knowledge as a gauge of a small business’ success.

If you would like to see the full list we use to assess small businesses, click here to download the Business Diagnostic Worksheet.

How to Use this Tool

Go through the checklist quarterly or annually and have your key managers do the same. Honestly evaluate what tools/strategies you now have and how consistently you use them.  If you have slipped and not implemented one tool consistently, you are not alone.  In the curve balls of business it is common to let best practices fall by the way side.  The important part is to pick it back up and consistently measure your company’s success.

Purpose of the Best Practices Blog Series

At Collaboration, whether you are a past client, future client, or someone we will never get the chance to work with, we care about your success. We want your dreams to come to fruition and for you to take your business by the reins and become the most effective leader you can be. We want to support you and share our knowledge and resources with you to reach that new level of growth in your business. We believe in paying it forward.

This is the first blog in a new series dedicated to providing our tools and strategies to forward-thinking, proactive entrepreneurs. If you have a question about the Business Diagnostic Checklist or would like to meet with us to evaluate your business one on one, please contact us.

Let’s Talk

Something’s not right with your business. You know it, your team feels it and maybe it’s trickling down to your clients too. Whatever issues you’re facing, let our friendly, smart, intuitive team give you the tools you need to elevate your business. Give us a call, send an email, or meet us out for coffee or a cocktail. Let’s collaborate to create a successful business!

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