Everyone starts the year with sparkly, hopeful resolutions. That goes for businesses, too. Maybe this is the year you're going to land that big client, launch in a new market or get a handle once and for all on your bookkeeping. But then life happens. You get distracted by day-to-day demands—email to be answered, customer emergencies to attend to—and lose sight of those goals. Before you know it, the year is drawing to a close and you're woefully behind on your goals.
“The problem with a 12-month calendar is it's way too long," says Rich Allen, a Dallas-based business consultant and author of the book The Ultimate Business Tune Up. “Everyone waits until the last month or two to get everything done."
That's why business owners should consider a mid-year checkup. Just like a semi-annual car tune-up ensures your car won't break down, business tune-ups are important to keep your business running smoothly and help make sure you are on course to meet your goals. A mid-year tune-up can also help flag issues before they develop into serious problems.
A business is a living, evolving enterprise—and your management processes should reflect that.
As the summer season kicks into full gear, here are some tips for planning a mid-year tune-up:
1. Create a Checklist
Allen is a fan of checklists. “I think of it like taking a car into the shop," where the mechanic ticks off a list of parts to check, he says. He uses the acronym ACDC to memorably sum up the four key questions business owners should ask themselves in a checkup.
A: How are you doing at Attracting new leads?
C: How well are you Converting them into good customers?
D: How well are you Delivering on the promise you are making to those customers?
C: How well are you Collecting on revenues that are owed to you?
2. Acknowledge Accomplishments
Tune-ups should not just dwell on what didn't get done or the work ahead. To keep morale high (including your own), it's important to acknowledge and celebrate the goals that were met and progress made by team members and the business as a whole.
3. Conduct Team Assessments
One of the biggest challenges Allen sees his clients struggle with is getting the right team in place. Often, hiring is done in a rush and companies can end up with the wrong skill or personality mix on the management team or elsewhere in the organization. Yet, like goal-setting, performance assessments are typically conducted annually, as the year wraps up and bonuses are determined. “The midyear tune-up," says Allen, “is an opportunity to have a conversation with everyone on your team and give them feedback about how they're doing and what skills or experience they need to acquire to get ready for the next level."
4. Engage Your Team
Having an engaged and harmonious team is important, but not everyone is excited by the prospect of free-falling while blindfolded into co-workers' arms or other stunts that are used as team-building exercises. Allen suggests skipping the acrobatics and instead involving employees and team members in a mid-year strategy assessment and using that session as a team-building exercise. That way employees are clear on goals and invested in the outcomes.
5. Seize the Slowdown
Don't forget your own personal and professional development. Take advantage of the slower pace of summer. Can you use the time to make progress on a goal? Think about taking a class to learn a new skill, or picking up that must-read book you haven't had time to get to. Or simply use the downtime to organize your office. Clearing out mental space and challenging yourself can spark new ideas.
6. Set Goals, Review, Repeat
A business is a living, evolving enterprise—and your management processes should reflect that. “This isn't a 'do it once and you're done' kind of thing," says Allen on mid-year check-ins. He advises finding a rhythm that works for you, whether that's a review every six months or quarterly, as he does with his clients. “When you compress every month down into a week, things happen faster and get done faster," says Allen.
The important thing is that you make time to periodically check in on progress you and your team are making on your personal and business goals. Otherwise, those goals and resolutions set in January are likely to evaporate by time the warm weather rolls around.
Photo: Getty Images