5 Successes & 5 issues in Small-Med Business

I work as a Business Coach, Mentor and Adviser with business owners.In the last three months (first quarter of a new financial year), I asked 10 clients what their Top 5 successful, feel good, positive events, energizing subjects were. For each response I asked: What made the difference? We pre-ambled the discussions by acknowledging the impact of health vulnerability on local and global economies.

Nearly twelve months into a pandemic, the top positive energies are:

  • Everyone is more accepting of virtual meetings.
  • Technology is enabling more.
  • There are savings on travel costs and time.

The top issues include:

  • Uncertainty for the future business landscape.
  • Legal constraints as governments seek to manage the population’s health risks.
  • Reduced customer budgets as they strive for contingency planning.
    Joseph D'Souza of Questunique talking to a group of business owners

    Click to view Joseph’s talk about The ROQUE Model to the Warragul Business Owners.

    Top 5 Business Successes

    First we discussed what positive successes they had seen in this period despite the ongoing situation locally and abroad. Here are some of the specific and general situations they found themselves in:

    New Customers

    • The new sales representative proved that experience and knowledge of the industry mattered. She introduced contracts from her previous roles who supported her.
    • Two new businesses opened in our region.
    • One partial competitor closed down.

    Business Loan Approval

    • Our asset values used as bank security increased.
    • We were able to approach our financial institution with confidence.
    • We were able to secure a more easily processed loan from another institution.

    Good Sales Month

    • We got lucky? We cannot think what we did differently (not counting the small new customer sales).
    • We experienced better than previous years trends.
    • Same customers making more purchases and some credit to passing traffic and good weather.

    No Staff Issues

    • We have been working on improving staff moral.
    • A couple of new recruits with new energy.
    • One good worker but with attitude issues was on holiday. One person was off sick. Interesting note: Smaller number of staff yet extra busy and a good buzz.

    Insurance Claim Success

    • We had been waiting months for a disputed insurance claim.
    • We invested in professional legal help.
    • We changed providers as they put up our renewal premium and we got a better result.

    Top 5 Business Issues

    For the same period, the same customers reflected on Top 5 worrying issues, things that depressed them, challenged their efforts and distracted them most. For each response I asked: What made they believed was the cause?

    Cash Flow

    • We had the coincidence of tax and employer contributions due at the same time.
    • We were not able to sustain our budgeted provision for the last four months.
    • Monies owed to us did not arrive as expected and One new supplier insisted on pro-foma invoice payments

    Customer Retention

    • Three regular customers did not put in their orders for the following months for different reasons.
    • Our account manager has been away on sick leave and there has not been anyone else to service the base.
    • Two new businesses opened in our region and although not direct competitors, some of their services took small amounts of our regular business.

    Stagnant or Falling Sales

    • We have not been doing any planned marketing. Our adhoc marketing has lacked energy.
    • We are really not engaging our customers as we should.
    • We had some returned products (though we can fix this but the sales won’t count this quarter)

    Product Quality

    • Our worst nightmare of staff and equipment hit us hard.
    • We were too busy fulfilling orders.
    • We changed suppliers for a couple of components.

    Staff Productivity

    • When staff don’t care enough, we as owners pay the price.
    • Our new team leader is a control freak and put some of our staff offside.
    • Our preoccupations with internal business matters meant we did not maintain our regular staff meetings and training.

    Some other unique business issues included:

    • Two senior managers are not communicating with each other. This is impacting the team.
    • One business owner has a health issue taking him away from daily activity.
    • The CEO keeps changing his mind and is confusing the project.
    • We need to implement a revised organization structure to control compliance obligations.
    • We have to revise our business model to engage in pandemic times.

    Not all business experience all of these successes and issues. However, at QuestUnique, we review a business or project with our Strategic Review Quotient (SRQ) process. In seven categories we explore for proficiency, competency, capability, performance and sustainability.

    SRQ7: Strategic Review Quotient

    We cover SEVEN fundamental conversation starter areas:

    1. This business has clear Vision, Mission and Purpose statements.
    2. The Market positioning or niche is identified and targeted.
    3. Key business strategies for ‘going to market’ are operationalized.
    4. Business Plan, Revenues and Budgets EIS plus SWOT analysis are being used.
    5. Key business processes and systems are documented and followed.
    6. There is an inventory of pre-arranged resources.
    7. All the key deliverables for the business are catalogued.

    The SRQ is a structured process for a general Strategic Review and quarterly agenda of a new or existing business or project.

    • The process includes documenting a score against seventy key questions (SRQ70) in each of the SRQ seven categories.
    • The output is a two page report graphically illustrating the strategic review status check of the business.
    Bar graphs output of the SRQ70

    An Example SRQ70 Assessment and rating.

    SRQ70 Spidergram assessment and consultants observations

    An Example SRQ70 Spidergram and summary.

    A strategic Quotient value rates the business on the following scale:

    • 7. Highly Sustainable.
    • 6. All KPI’s are consistent to plan.
    • 5. Internally Efficient & Externally Effective.
    • 4. Operational and In-Development.
    • 3. Critical Success Factors Optimized.
    • 2. Business Start-Up attributes.
    • 1. Business Concept Status.