Localization Business School: How healthy is your business?

Let’s get real. Is your business growing as fast and as much as you need? Let’s paint a picture of where you stand. For now, you won’t need your tax returns, budget figures, inventory turnover numbers or any other data. Instead, rate your current situation based on how you feel.

A good way of illustrating your current starting point is to do a Wheel of Business exercise. Draw a circle on an empty sheet of paper and give it seven equally sized pie slices.

Each pie slice represents an essential part of your business that you need to master in order to succeed. Think through each area in your wheel and draw a line across every slice of pie to indicate a percentage between zero and 100. Zero in the center means that you have nothing; 100 means that you have everything. Don’t overthink your ratings. Go with your gut. Whether you believe you are at 30%, 50% or 70% in any given category, just draw a line parallel with the corresponding label.

Wheel of Business questions

Strategy: Do you have a business vision, plan or map that has been shared with everyone who needs to help execute it? Has this map been broken down into meaningful and actionable chunks of responsibilities for all stakeholders? Do you know where you are, where you’re going, what’s not working, what you’ve learned and how your strategy is going to make business better?

There’s no right or wrong answer. If you feel like, “I have no plan at all; I’m just chunking out work,” you are starting at zero. If you can honestly say, “Know what? I have a plan, my entire team is committed and aligned, and we are humming,” you draw your line at 100%, or the entire slice of the pie.

Innovation: What are you doing to innovate, to implement new processes, new technologies or new ways of getting things done? Are you constantly innovating to redefine your customer base and expand the size of your market? What do you do to change the value you deliver to your customers? How do you dramatically improve your value to both suppliers and customers?

If you haven’t innovated in the last five years, then you’re at zero. If innovation is a default habit, you are at 100. If you have done some of the work, then maybe it’s 50, 60, or 70. Just pick a number and run with it. Don’t overthink it.

Marketing: Do you have the right product and service for your target market? Does the pricing reflect perceived value to the customer? How effective are your advertising, sales promotions, special offers and public relations? Do you promote your business in the right places? Do you make it easy to buy from you through all available channels (website, social media, email, over the phone, and so on)? Are you pushing your marketing message, or are you creating a pull? Do you have enough inbound traffic for sales reps to follow up on, or not?

You could be at 100%, or you could be at zero. Focus on what you feel is the right answer for now. Nobody wants to see evidence of your answers here. Just draw a line where you think things stand right now.

Sales: Do your sales reps understand your products and services? Can they explain in detail how each product works and what business value it offers? Are you searching for referrals to new prospects through existing connections or ask existing customers for introductions? What other prospecting strategies do you use?

Are you managing your state of mind during sales meetings? How well are you in control of your tone of voice, volume and pace of speech? How confidently do you handle objections and close deals? How healthy is your sales pipeline and what is the conversion rate from prospect to customer? How well are operations working with sales? Do they collaborate on writing proposals, being clear on delivery dates and other terms and conditions?

Draw a line.

Process Optimization: How good are you at continuously improving your processes, automating repetitive and manual labor and the communication with your clients. Has using artificial intelligence already been integrated into your operations? Do you do enough to shorten delivery times? Are you eliminating redundancies, streamlining workflows, improving communication, forecasting changes? What initiatives are in place to widen production bottlenecks, scale operations and increase quality at source?

It does not matter if you are entirely sure. Again, just draw a line where your feelings lead you.

Legal and Finance: How high are your profit margins? Is your revenue growing or shrinking? How robust is your net cash flow? How do you maximize interest while meeting cash requirements? How useful are your key performance indicators, and how meaningful are they when tied to business outcomes? How well are you complying with regulation and legal frameworks?

Keep on drawing lines.

Promoters: These are clients that tell all their peers, colleagues and friends how great you and your company are. They proactively connect you with new clients. How many of those raving fans do you have? Are you under-promising and over-delivering? Do you offer unexpected surprises and bonuses for your customers? Are you giving special benefits, discounts, offers and value in addition to what your core clients are receiving? Have you trained your employees to deliver positive customer experiences?  Are you fostering authentic relationships with your customers? Are you asking for testimonials?

This is your last line to draw in the Wheel of Business. Do it.

Finally, fill in your pie slices so that they are solid. Then look at your wheel and ask yourself the following questions: “If this was a wheel on my car, how fast could I go? How smooth would the ride be? Would it be rough or smooth?” If your answer is “slow and bumpy” you now know why.

But knowledge is not power — it is only potential power at best. Knowledge in action is power, so develop an action plan and implement it.