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Kenneth W. Keller: A few tips for evaluating your business model

Inside Business

Posted: April 28, 2009 6:26 p.m.
Updated: April 29, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Every business can do better. Research suggests that there are 12 areas where a company might make slight changes and see dramatic improvement in a very short period of time. In no special order, here is my list.  

Wrong people
: Every company has someone who is not working as hard as he or she can, working at cross purposes with others, or not doing the job he or she was were hired to do. This person can be at any level of the company. Managers are not immune, and neither are owners.   

If people are not working as hard as they should be, there is a motivation problem. If someone is working at cross-purposes with others, then there needs to be a clarification of goals. If they are not doing the job they were hired to do, they might have too much on their plate, they might not have clear objectives or they might not know how to do the job.

Clutter and mess: Nothing impedes performance like messy desks, stacks of papers, files and miscellaneous stuff in an office, warehouse or production facility.

Lack of processes, procedures and systems: The difference between the successful and unsuccessful is that the successful firms have enough systems in place to grow the business without killing innovation.   

Winning is not defined: Too many organizations work toward something that is not clear, not prioritized and not orchestrated. What is winning in your organization? Does everyone know what that means? What are they expected to contribute to the effort?

Nonexistent performance evaluations: When a person who supervises a person says, “You’re doing okay,” the comment does not replace a formal, written performance evaluation. An evaluation is a process in which each employee has goals, is coached and is expected to achieve them as discussed and agreed by their immediate supervisor. If you want to boost performance, take the time necessary to perform scheduled, written evaluations of every employee.

Poor financial reporting
: When key documents relating to the financial health of the company are either late or non-existent, it is pretty hard to run a business.

Lack of alignment
: When departments are working at cross purposes, with objectives that are not in congruence, performance will suffer. Simply having each department have written goals that are shared across the company will help solve that inhibitor.  

No prospecting system: If everything begins with a sale, every sale begins by identifying a prospect. Eliminating the wait-and-see approach and replacing it with a proactive, outgoing marketing program to efficiently identify and qualify prospects will save valuable resources and increase the opportunity for making the company money.  

Wrong customers: Many companies have the wrong customers. These customers want more resources than the company can provide profitably, yet the company cannot identify those customers that are not worth doing business with.

No sergeants: Every successful organization has sergeants, individuals who preserve the values of the company, communicate and enforce policies and procedures, and most important, get things done.

No celebration of success: Performance is enhanced when organizations take time to celebrate things they have done right. Without these pleasant interruptions, people become disengaged and wonder why they should work so hard.

Concentrated decision making
: High-performing organizations push decision-making to the lowest possible level. When all the decisions are made by a single individual, the entire organization suffers.    

Despite the tough economy, many organizations are more successful than ever. Learn from those firms and make your business a better performing one.

Kenneth Keller is president of Renaissance Executive Forums, which brings business owners together in facilitated peer advisory boards. His column represents his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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