Research compiled by the University of Applied Sciences in Germany in 2016 has shown that only 20% – 30% of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in South Africa survive longer than five years. In addition, the research found that the common trait distinguishing a successful business from a failing business is its owner’s ability to adopt a proactive approach to running the business and to accurately execute plans.
A lot of successful small business owners understand the importance of conducting a detailed annual review, which includes reviewing past performance and potential opportunities for the business, setting expansion goals, identifying financial targets and assessing the overall health of the business. It must be said though, that one of the biggest mistakes that an entrepreneur can make is to believe that one review is enough to keep a business on course for an entire year.
With the middle of the year around the corner it is the ideal time for business owners to conduct a mid-year review.
The primary function of the mid-year review is to assess the business’s progress against its annual goals, as no good comes from waiting until year end to determine whether the business has managed to reach its targets.
Examining provisional sales figures, evaluating recent successes and failures and measuring staff performance during a mid-year review will help the entrepreneur to intercept problems early on as well as identify opportunities that may disappear by the time that the annual review arrives.
Lastly, there is no better way to boost employee motivation than a mid-year revision of their personal goals, performance assessment and recognition of their successes over the previous six months.
To ensure that the maximum value is extracted from a mid-year review a top-to-bottom examination of the business is necessary while following a detailed checklist to help stay on course.
The checklist of the ideal mid-year review
In order to get the most out of mid-year reviews, the business owner should ensure that five vital bases are covered:
- The first thing to review should always be finances. Organising financial documents both digitally and physically as part of a mid-year review prevents surprises, losing information and many wasted man-hours in last minute filing when the end of the year arrives.
Naturally, this is also the time to review the business’s financial goals, specifically whether targets are being met and identifying how losses can be recovered as quickly as possible.
- Next on the list is an in-depth evaluation of the entity’s legal and tax positions. Ignorance is not a viable defence against legal or tax non-compliance, which is why the business owner needs to make sure that the business is still in the best possible position.
Ensure that taxes are up to date, the necessary paperwork is in order and that there have been no regulatory changes that could impact the business in future. This is also the time to review client and service provider contracts to make sure that the agreements are still enforceable and up to date.
- A mid-year audit of the company’s marketing strategy can help the entrepreneur to keep business numbers up throughout the year. It is important to conduct a website audit to ensure that all the information on the various pages are still in order and up to date. This step should also include customer check-ins and quick social media audits.
Being proactive in this regard also requires the business owner to conduct a formal update on what the competition is currently doing. A new disrupting product or service launch by a rival business can hurt both market share and revenue. In addition to identifying upcoming challenges, business owners may come across good ideas to incorporate into the business.
- The fourth item on the list is an examination of the company’s risk management measures and to check that the company’s disaster recovery plan is still relevant. If the risk of protest actions or weather related perils seem to have increased in recent months, the business interruption and recovery plan should be revisited as a point of priority.