Once a year you should do a thorough analysis or review of your company to make sure you are staying on track. As a general outline you can follow these 10 categories:
1)Management and Administration: your strategy, supervision, delegation, accountability, accounting, human resources, payroll and benefits, risk, legal, cost controls, decision making, growth, data and records, responsibilities
3) Sales and Marketing: how to find prospects that become your customers; sales presentation and marketing materials
4) Technology and Applications: how can technology be utilized to optimize your key company functions; hardware, software, industry specific applications
5) Company Culture: how your company is perceived by your employees, customers, vendors and the local and cyber communities; what is management willing and capable of doing. How are training, learning and education perceived? How is your image and morale?
6) Priorities and Budgets: what is most important, when is it needed and how much does it cost; cash flow management
7) Short and Long Term Goals: short term is within a year; long term is next 1-10 years. Where do you plan to be?
8) Execution: what do you need, how will you carry out your plan and how you will monitor your progress toward your goals
9) Ongoing Development: what reviews and new developments are necessary to maintain growth and improve?
10) Overview and Summary: the big picture or how your business model matches your goals; what are your short and long term strengths, weaknesses and opportunities.
The list above does not include everything but it does cover the basics. Remember that every business is unique so the challenge is to find out what applies to your business.
Here are a few more pointers before you begin:
A) Most businesses find it impossible to be objective about themselves so they look for an outsider. The analyst is neither an employee, friend nor relative. This prevents one's self interest from influencing the final report.
B) Request that your outside analyst tell you what you need to know and not what you would prefer to know. Don't waste your time and money if you don't really want to know. Also ask why bother if you won't change anything once you do know.
C) Make sure your analyst interviews your key people and submits a written, detailed report. If they don't interview your people, how will they know? If you hide things from the analyst you will get back a skewed perspective which will be reflected in the final report.
D) When reviewing the report, ask questions until you clearly understand each point. If you do not understand something then the report will be of less value for you and your company. A good analyst will answer your questions and not ridicule you. A really good analyst will chastise you for not doing what you really should be doing.
What is the net result? Unfortunately some businesses actually go through the process of a business analysis and then ignore the observations and suggestions. This of course makes no sense.
What does make sense is to take the results of your business analysis and modify your current business plan to make it more effective. This is what a business analysis is all about; this is what is in it for your company.
From the analysis you can focus on those activities which will have the biggest impact and results such as increasing sales or reducing costs. Also look for improvements that are free, cost little and can be done quickly.
The biggest obstacle to improvement and growth is overcoming that initial inertia; if you remember your physics, "an object at rest tends to stay at rest." The business analysis provides the ideal platform from which you can get going if you stay consistent with your plan and focus, focus, focus.
And that can also make things a lot more fun, too!