Regardless of the time of the year, every small business should have a checklist to strive towards, it’s used to help meet targets, improve service and optimise the company’s performance yearly. Checklists can be created with sector-specific targets in mind, but there are some areas that most small businesses should cover. If you’re looking for areas to identify here’s a look at some overall areas to add to the checklist. You can also include sector specific points to cover on the checklist, this will naturally benefit your business more but these areas as a whole help improve the majority of small business and will ensure growth is an option.

Evaluate the Team

A business naturally relies on its employees doing their job correctly and most efficiently, it’s one of the most important parts of the company. Evaluating the team over a period of time will help identify strengths and weaknesses, which isn’t a bad thing. Identifying weakness isn’t to add pressure to an employee, but instead, help them to become better in the future, which in turn, helps both the individual and the business.

Another part of the evaluation is considering the happiness of the workforce, performance can dwindle if staff aren’t happy. Considering one-to-one reviews and anonymous questionnaires to identify issues that the company can improve will create a better working environment. Offering both options will help cover most people’s opinions of current practices, some employee might find it tough to comment on issues in a one-to-one basis and others may not take a questionnaire too seriously, it’s best to explore more than one area with employee feedback.

Recruitment

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Considering recruitment is also necessary during any checklist, making sure there are no gaps in the business for employment means that current staff won’t be overworking and becoming unhappy with the workload. If the business is growing naturally, the work will become greater, making sure you’ve considered the workload and employee’s participation should be added to the checklist.

If you find that you do need to recruit, there is also key areas to focus on whilst employing new staff:

Background Checks: Sadly, people do lie on their applicants, whether it’s about their previous experience, criminal record or financial situation. Checking each applicant’s records matchup is key to a healthy working relationship that won’t become sour for minor reasons.

Set a Salary and Classification: During an interview, don’t just listen to the applicant’s background and experience, makes sure you sell the role for all its benefits. Even if it’s an entry level position, mentioning the future of career growth can entice most applicants. Mention the level you would like them to start and with a matching salary is key to avoid any confusion, there’s little point in hiding anything until the later stages as the applicant might pull out and the search will have to restart.

Check the Business is Ready for a New Employee: whether it’s your first employee or tenth, looking through your records is vital to any new employment. Making sure it’s safe for the business to have another body in the building, business insurance should be checked and making sure is consistently viable to offer the permanent role.

Accounting

Yearly accounting is usually conducted when its best suited for the business and its sector. If the business is selling goods to the public it’s usually ideal to work out the accounts and assess the year after the festive period for the peak of revenue made in the year. However, some company’s base it around their clients and when their agreements are renewed. Again, for the same reason that it provides the optimal idea of the businesses past and future plans and their success.

Trim Expenses

As a business grows and has a bigger impact on business partners, there also comes the ability to negotiate prices for materials, services other overheads. This likely won’t be a frequent process you commit to, a yearly evaluation of total outgoing costs versus revenue will help identify areas you can focus on lowing costs. In some cases, it won’t even be a case of negotiating with another business, going paperless and using google docs lowers costs simply. Another simple area to look at is energy saving options and looking into new providers of services.

Brand Awareness

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There are a lot of ways to increase your company’s identity to other business and customers, reviewing new ways to improve your brand’s awareness will help the company thrive. Attending more networking events, raising awareness on social media and online marketing will all help the company and cost next to nothing to execute. Creating a marketing plan, however small is a good idea to add to the checklist and reviewing it over a period will help you see if the company’s exposure is a rising profile.

Training

Your staff might be working efficiently but there’s always room for improvement. Researching new ways to optimise workloads will help the business run even more efficiently, training your staff on new techniques will improve the overall performance. Even if your research doesn’t identify new ways to improve, revising currently methods yearly helps staff to refresh themselves on best practice. There can be times when employees become complacent with certain practices, refreshing them serves well in optimising performances.

Investing

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The world of technology is continually changing and the way businesses can operate with it. Researching your current business operational processes is great to add to the checklist, they have the potential to save the company money, speed up current tasks and reduce workloads for staff. Reinvesting profits on new technology, training and other business needs will naturally help the business grow. It can start with using new software on computers to help optimize the current business services or even if it’s just taking your employee’s out for an event and paying for a team bonding day. any additional financial aid you put into the company is an investment and will likely improve the company in some form.

Security

A constant priority for any workplace, revising the security in and outside of the business premises should commit to on a regular basis. Some areas such as security cameras and guards may not need as much of a focus as often, but reviewing their function should always be a commitment to ensure nothing fails at the worst time. Security goes further than that though, making sure your employee’s feel safe at work is also important, reviewing fire alarms and escape routes may be a simple task. It should also be reviewed regardless but it is now a legal requirement.

Cybersecurity is also an important feature for most businesses, hacking is becoming a major problem in some industries, reviewing current deals with protection services can help in saving money or ensuring that your system is up to date with the latest protection.

Revise Expansion

As businesses start to grow the potential for expansion also becomes an interest. It’s best not to consider expansion immediately as sometimes additional work can just be a one-off or too unreliable to commit to more staff and buying commercial property. Moving and expanding is an expensive process, revising growth yearly on the checklist is best for identifying if it’s the safe option for the future.

You could potentially speak to professional if you are unsure of the risk. It’s a complex area to get involved in and sometimes it’s hard to see whether the business would massively benefit from the expansion. Expanding doesn’t have to be completely moving to a new location either, you could play it safe and add a second functioning location to the current office.

End-of-Year Goal

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Goals don’t just have to be set just to increase additional revenue, considering expanding the business, hiring more employees or just maintaining a current average are healthy ways to keep the business on track. Some small businesses are happy in their size and current profit, considering your personal targets and adding them to the checklist will help you get the most out of the business and gives you something to strive towards, even if it is just maintaining the current standard.

Your checklist could be yearly, monthly or even weekly whichever suits your company most and will help the business grow as a whole. A checklist is the best way to help you compare the business to previous periods and keep track of what’s succeeding and the key areas to help improve. The key is to set realistic goals to achieve and maintain a positive business moving forward.

Reviewing current trends in your chosen sector will also be a great way to finish off the checklist. Optimising your stake in the sector and creating a business plan for the new business year will help keep your company fresh and a desirable business partner/ the best option for your customers to approach for future endeavours.

Bio: Richard Meadow is a writer that works on topics in relation to employment, business operations and commercial property management. He is always interested in new subjects and articles to read about and enjoys writing about them.

@meadow_richard