Three years ago, I read Necessary Endings by Dr. Henry Cloud, which I highly recommended reading. In chapter 3, he discussed the importance of the business life cycle which mirrors the four seasons: winter, spring, summer and fall.
Cloud advises business owners to accept endings as a natural function of the seasonal cycle. He stated, “Each season has a set of activities. Spring is about sowing and beginnings.” Performing seasonal activities out of sequence can potentially create problems.
With summer on the horizon, making sure your business fields are clean and your seeds sowed is crucial for ensuring a profitable harvest. In June, I will post the summer activities and so forth.
Spring Activities for Small Business Owners
Clean Out Winter’s Dying Plants
In March, I conduct a full business cleaning. I’ve discovered my ability to plan for the remainder of the year is better in the early spring than in late December or early January because everyone is in a holiday slumber.
My checklist includes: Are there areas of the business draining resources? Will we need to upgrade technology or purchase new office equipment? Are we paying for services we do not use? Which clients generate 80% of the revenue? Do we really need the remaining 20%? I also use this time to assess and refresh our websites and marketing efforts.
I take a critical look at my schedule and action items. I determine if these tasks are relevant, if not, I make adjustments. To clean out your business, you must be willing to ask and answer difficult questions.
Determine Which Fields You Are Going to Work (Business Development)
Schedule an hour this month on a Friday morning or afternoon, go to your favorite coffee shop or stay at your office. But, make sure you turn off notifications and reduce as many distractions as possible.
On a sheet of paper, draw each business field. Write down the percentage of revenue the field generates. Based on what you know, how long will this field generate revenue? What can you do to increase productivity? Will you need to hire new employees or contractors? What work is required to generate a fruitful harvest from each field?
Refer back to your 80/20 percentage. Are you spending 80 percent of your time on a field that produces 20% revenue? If so, why?
Make Sure Your Business Has Sufficient Resources for the Whole Year
We all know about working within constraints as most small businesses learn quickly how to be nimble and hustle for new business. But, do you know how much cash you will need for the rest of the year? $10,000 or $100,000?
When I worked as an executive at an investor funded startup, every day I crunched our burn rate. If we did not know how much cash we were spending, we could quickly run into serious problems. We needed to know how long we had before we had to pitch investors for more money. As a micro business owner and author, I know my burn rate.
Which resources are abundant and where do you anticipate shortages?
Actual Sowing and Planting for Your Business
Sowing seeds into the market is creating new business relationships; attending networking meetings, sending targeted emails, meeting people, and helping others build their networks or businesses. Think each and every day, what seeds have you sowed? Imagine how your business fields will look in the summer and fall. Do you see gaps or too much growth? Either can present problems during harvest.
Protecting Your Seedlings from Elements and Intruders
Today, protecting your business from cyber attacks is critical. We often forget to check the safe guards used to protect our important business assets: computers, mobile devices, and websites. Recapturing client information costs us time and money.
Also consider what other “elements” could invade your “fields” – new competitors, disruptive technologies or events in unrelated industries? Going back to your sheet of paper with your defined fields, add what elements could impact your harvest.
Nurturing the Vision to Ensure a Fruitful Harvest
What is your vision? Last month, I wrote about how design is important to your business from developing the foundation of your vision to how you communicate with clients. Are your fields designed to nurture your vision and will these fields generate a profitable return?
During your weekly review session, think about your vision when reviewing your fields. What actions do you need to take now to sow seeds for the future? Double check your resources, do you have enough? Which seeds are growing and where do you need to spend more time.
As business owners, we need reminders that every action and decision we make has a direct impact on our business. Even the actions we do not take will have an equal impact. For every activity, there is a time and place.
Have you sowed seeds for growth today?