Throw Some Daggers… At Your Business

Throw Some Daggers… At Your Business

Listen to this episode.

It’s July. Half the year is now officially over. In a few short months there will be open discussion about those 2016 resolutions.

Take a moment to evaluate the plans, decisions and resolutions you made in 2014 for 2015. Chances are that like everyone, you hit on a few and missed on a few. But the year isn’t over yet. There’s plenty of runway left before 2016 takes off.

So let’s take this time to cheat a little bit.

Let’s re-evaluate the remaining half of 2015 and throw some daggers at your unfulfilled resolutions and plans.

Last week I met with the shareholders of one of my businesses and we spent two hours doing nothing but throwing daggers at our own business. We tried to identify every challenge and problem so that we could prepare. Of course, we’re not soothsayers. We can’t see the future. But many businesses often hope for the best and plan for the best. 20 years in business has shown me that this is folly.

So before July is up, call a meeting with all of the decision makers in your company and throw some daggers at your business. If you don’t know where to start, here are a few bullseyes you can aim for.

Financial Daggers

How should the business spend on health care? Healthcare is a huge investment for a business and the Affordable Care Act has not simplified the process. I know several businesses that have saved a lot of money by bringing in a consultant to identify how to spend wisely in this area.

Are any business finances running through the personal accounts of any employees? This is not uncommon especially in small businesses. The problem is that running money through personal accounts tends to blur the line between legitimate business expenses and personal expenses. It’s best to make that a hard line so there is no confusion.

Are you assessing your IT infrastructure properly? IT is a common money pit. Most people don’t take advantage of technologies that can make their businesses run better, faster and more cost effectively because they don’t know better. Having a competent IT company audit your environment is an expense worth making because it could save you big long term bucks.

Are you charging enough? Many businesses fail to maintain profitability because they are not effectively balancing revenue against expenses.

Branding Daggers

What are our stop words? Are there words in your corporate language that are potential turn offs to clients? Or are you using language that is meaningful to you but that your audience doesn’t understand?

How’s our logo? Like any art and design, logos go through trends. As good as your logo is, it will eventually begin to show its age and begin to feel dated to prospects and customers.

What does our visual identity say about us? Modern audiences don’t accept a disconnect between different marketing pieces. If your Facebook page looks different than your website and your website looks different than your business cards, you are going to turn off your audience; especially the younger, connected buyer.

Legal Daggers

Does the business have enough legal protection in the form of good contracts? If an out of state client fails to pay you and you need to sue them, do you do that in their state or in your state? If you don’t know the answer to that then you may have a weak contract. No contract is iron clad, but if your contracts leave more questions then answers, it may be time to reconsider them.

Do the principals of the company pose a risk if they die or get divorced? Mom and pop shops are great, but sometimes mom and pop grow to dislike each other and if they each own equity in the business, they may use the business as a weapon against each other. It sucks to say it, but things like this do happen. It’s good to be prepared.

Can your shareholders sell their stock and leave you with a partner you don’t want? I think the question says it all. Every business should have a “Buy/Sell” section in their shareholder agreement so that there are no unsettling surprises later.

Human Resources Daggers

Are your employees happy? This goes beyond salary. A good salary coupled with an unhappy employee can still be a recipe for disaster. “Happiness” is very difficult to define, but its been shown that happy employees lead to good business.

Are your employees trained? As the world changes, every business must adapt. No business should ever assume that employees will learn on their own. Some will and that’s great, but you want everyone on your team to be at their peak performance.

Do your employees have down time? Working your employees to the bone will hurt your business in the end. Your employees need down time, vacation and time with their families. If you deny them that, it’ll come back to haunt you.

This list can go on forever and it’s going to be different for each business. The key is to spend most of your time planning for all the good stuff, but dedicate some time to facing the possibilities that the “good stuff” may take a detour.

I’d love to hear your daggers in the comments.

Ralph M. Rivera
Hi, I'm Ralph! I'm a web developer at Rahvalor Interactive, a creative marketing services company that I founded in 1999 with my wife and business partner Carol Lynn. In January 2012 we created Web.Search.Social as a branded service offering that brings enterprise-level services to small businesses in an affordable way. I'm also founder and CTO of Podcaster's Toolbox, a SaaS platform designed to help podcasters plan, produce and promote their shows. I teach web development at Manhattan College in New York City. Carol Lynn and I are home based near the Jersey shore but we're currently location independent and traveling the country for a year, working and podcasting. I'm also trying to build a flux capacitor, but that's not going as well as the other stuff I do.
Ralph M. Rivera
Ralph M. Rivera
  • Ralph, I’d like to see more businesses recognize employees as their most valuable asset. When employees are happy/content/satisfied with their work, really good things happen, in a smooth-sailing fashion.

    Want your business to run like a well-oiled machine? Treat your employees right … period.

    Japanese businesses have been doing it right for years. Business owners from other countries should wake up and smell the coffee and take some notes.

    A short story with a surprise ending …

    I worked for a hospital for 29+ years as a perinatal educator. After a 14-year stretch without a penny’s increase in my paycheck (and no health care or retirement benefits), I visited H.R. to speak with the head honcho, a gentleman whom I considered a friend and colleague. My track record spoke for itself. Years and years of doing enthusiastic cheer-leading PR for that institution along with an extra large pile of glowing departmental evaluations and endless praise from patients and physicians earned me the following remark:

    “If you’re not happy here, you know your way to the exit.” WOW. Talk about feeling appreciated. Those words still reverberate in my brain.