Making the most of your business data

Lara Morgan recommends that every company should review and analyse their data on a regular basis

Making the most of your business data

We are starting a new accounting period and there is clearly no better time to look back and analyse the past 12 months. I am a typical entrepreneur. Every New Year I tell myself to focus on the big nuggets that move the needle.

I also attempt to break the bad habits, such as ambushing my team leaders relentlessly with too many ideas. Sometimes I am guilty of wasting time and effort juggling too many ‘opportunities’.

So here are a few suggestions for the early weeks of 2024: Ideas that might help leadership teams ensure a successful start to the new accounting period.

1) Have you really extracted all the analysis, both positive and negative, from the relevant business data of the past 12 months? Have you even planned a meeting with your top team to discuss the findings of these statistics? And what are your plans regarding utilising AI?

2) Conduct a thorough review of the previous year’s business. Identify successes, challenges and areas for improvement.

3) Analyse financial statements and key performance indicators (KPIs) to understand the overall health of the business. Remember that data is power.

4) Clearly define goals and objectives for the new accounting period. Ensure that these are specific, measurable, achievable and relevant.

5) Make certain that every person has a part to play in achieving targets. This means everyone in the warehouse, the receptionist, office staff, managers, chief executive.

6) Keep one eye permanently on customer service. I was horrified to learn about a business I used to have shares in. This particular company’s reputation had suffered badly due to poor customer service. Foolish are the companies that don’t love their existing customers before attempting to win new ones.

7) Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) to track progress and measure success. As for financial planning and budgeting, always monitor and manage cash flow to ensure stability. Do you really know your cash stress points?

8) Review and scrutinise all digital and marketing investment. Is it time to update those old fashioned marketing tactics that appear to be many years past their sell-by date?

9) This next suggestion is extremely important. Communicate clearly the company’s goals and objectives to all team members. It is vital to ensure alignment and a shared sense of purpose. Employees join companies to do more than simply sell products. Encourage each department to set their own objectives that will contribute to the overall success of the organisation. And encourage teams to celebrate success.

10) Evaluate team structures and dynamics, and identify any skill gaps. Are resources being stretched too thinly in certain areas and how can this be addressed? Develop a culture that takes care of the pennies because the pounds will look after themselves. 

General pointers

I have always believed that a problem shared is a problem halved. Quite often, you will find that someone unexpected has a better way of solving a challenge than a more senior member of staff. Most successful companies foster a culture of collaboration and honest communication. This will enhance teamwork and productivity.

No business owner can start 2024 without considering the effects of AI. And every leader needs to grasp this double-edged sword of opportunity and danger. I have been involved in business for a number of decades, and the need to carry out technology and infrastructure checks is currently greater than ever. Risk assessment and mitigation strategies are so important. Understand your strengths but beware of any weaknesses.

We recently had our attention drawn to a brand which is completely ripping-off one of our own products. I am fed up of big companies producing copies of products that were developed by smaller brands. However, the good news is that the barrier for legal activity is getting smaller.

We now have methods of humiliating and embarrassing the lack of ethics shown by big companies who are guilty, time and time again, of not respecting the inventions made by others. But, as Oscar Wilde once remarked, ‘imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.’

Something we must all do repeatedly is to identify our current core customer. What is happening in the market? We have opted to switch our focus to satisfy US market trends, as we believe it will be another tough year in the UK.

Our Scentered portable wellness products are proving to be a big hit with customers in the United States, especially the KitBrix bag. And we must continue to try and understand changing preferences and demands.

Although budgets are tight, never forget internal shared learning. Employee engagement and development should always be communicated when you are recruiting. Even on a tight budget, you must provide training opportunities that align with business objectives. And always maintain open communication channels within the organisation.

It is also vital to keep on top of all legal and compliance updates, as changes to regulations and business requirements are happening faster than ever. In this article I have mentioned quite a number of areas that need to be scrutinised closely during the early weeks of the new accounting year. But by addressing these key areas will help your team leaders to prepare confidently for the year ahead.

Regular monitoring and adjustment of strategies, throughout the year, is also essential for ongoing success. Never forget to celebrate every victory, whether small or big, as this generates momentum. It also conjures up a feel-good factor which will help everyone remain focused along their journey.

Lara Morgan
Lara Morgan

Share via
Copy link