How To Do an Assessment on Your Online Business

Assessment on Your Online Business (Brooke J. Online Business Manager)

Making a periodic assessment of how healthy your business is can be one of the best ways to stay in business long-term.

If you feel that your business isn’t growing, thriving, or profiting at the rate you expected, you probably have a few areas that need your attention. In order to find those areas, you’ll need to do a full business assessment!

Defining Business Health

Healthy can mean something different to each business owner and looks differently within each niche or industry. What is healthy for one business owner might be a disaster or unattainable for others. For this reason, we define a healthy business as one that runs smooth, has a good cash flow, happy clients, and a work environment that is positive and productive.

Define what a healthy business looks like to you – Once you have established what healthy means to you in the context of what you are selling, it will be easier to identify any problem areas and come up with solutions for improvement. You may already know of some areas that need a little work, but some of the information you discover as you carry out your assessment might surprise you.

Next, let’s look at assessments.

Quarterly & End of Year Assessments

A periodic business health assessment should be an essential part of your ongoing business planning cycle. A regularly scheduled assessment helps to get you into the habit of looking things over at specific times. These will also tell you where you have been and help you determine the direction you need to go in order to increase the health of your business.

Technically speaking, you can do an assessment any time you want. However, most businesses either choose to implement quarterly assessments or yearly assessments.

While new businesses may opt to do a yearly assessment the first year or two, it is definitely in the business’ best interest to switch to a quarterly assessment schedule early in the game. Multiple assessments per year allow you to stay on top of things better. You can identify trouble spots sooner and be proactive in finding solutions for a healthier business. The quarterly approach also provides you several times to “get it right” before the end of the year assessment. This is important especially if your business is underperforming.

Since most businesses tend to have seasonal fluctuations, choosing to implement quarterly assessments from the beginning can help you see and document those fluctuations even before you notice they happen. This can highlight underperformance and lead you to develop timely strategies that can keep your business moving forward even during the “slow” times.

Doing a business health assessment at the end of each quarter and using the end of year assessment as the springboard for your success in the following year can make all the difference!


Key Areas to Assess:
YOUR Performance

It can be painful to reflect on your weaknesses, but it can also be empowering if you use what you learn to improve the health of your business and your own skills.

Examine your qualities, both positive and negative, and determine your impact as a leader and manager.

What are the pain points in your business?

Once you take note of your main pain points that are causing a bottleneck in your efforts to meet or exceed your goals, it will be time to do something about these issues personally, or delegate them.

How can you improve your management skills? How can you hand over less critical tasks to colleagues and/or outsource these jobs to free up your time?

Consider these questions when deciding what you should do and what you should delegate.
~ What activities help me earn money?
~ What activities are strategic?
~ What activities are organizational?
~ What activities are just daily chores?
~ What activities do I love to do?
~ What activities do I hate to do?
~ What activities drain me so much that I have a hard time working on an other tasks?
~ What activities do I avoid (procrastinate about) because I dislike them so much?

Any observer of human nature can tell you that we all have particular talents and skills we excel at, and those we can barely get by in. You might be an amazing writer, for example, but a terrible bookkeeper. You can be a fabulous accountant but awful at coming up with creative marketing ideas.

Your to-do list might be so long that you have no idea how to get it all done. If you’re not sure where all the time is going and what is being accomplished each day, keep track of your time for a week using a time management log. Fill in the information for a week. Then determine what is a productive use of your time, and what is devouring it with little result.

Once you see what is eating up most of your time, you can delegate, outsource, or keep the task, but try to work on it more efficiently by removing other demands and distractions from your day.

When you get busy, you tend to ‘drift’ into a set of behaviors that might not be healthy, as you try to cut corners to get it all done.
 
A healthy business starts with a healthy owner or CEO who is a good leader, so be the best you can be and see what a difference it can make to your profits.

The Market and Competitors

A viable market makes your business profitable.

Review your sales patterns and recognize the areas in which you’ve flourished and floundered. Examine new possibilities for growth, such as looking for a new market or drilling down further to find sub-niches with eager customers hungry to buy.

Also, remember: A marketing profile can help you treat your customers like the real people they are. Make your marketing all about them, and see what a difference it can make to your marketing and sales.

Your Competitors: If you run a successful business, you’ll always have competitors who want a share of your market. Rather than worry about competitors, follow the money. If there is competition in a niche, you can be certain there are paying customers.

Competitors may make you nervous, but the truth of the matter is that they can keep you on your toes and ensure that you are running a healthy business with a range of high-quality products that meet the needs of your ideal customer.

Your Website / Blog

Your website or blog should be the storefront for your business and the hub of all your marketing efforts.  

When assessing your site, be sure you know what your most important metrics will be in measuring its performance. This will include:

In terms of traffic to the site as a whole:

  • Overall Site Traffic
  • Traffic Referrers/Sources
  • Mobile Traffic
  • Average Time on Site
  • Bounce Rate
  • Rate of Return Visitors (loyal readers who make repeat visits)
  • Conversion rate (people who land on the page who then buy)

Your site should look fresh and clean, be easy to use, and kept up to date, with new content being added strategically on a continual basis. If your content creation efforts have been a bit haphazard, create an editorial calendar as part of your business assessment.

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Wrapping Up

When you’re running an online business, it can be all too easy to begin working a certain way and even falling into the bad habit of not taking the time to assess the success and value of all the activities you are doing.  

Making a periodic assessment of how healthy your business is can be one of the best ways to stay in business long-term.

This guide has offered a range of areas to look at to determine where you are right now in terms of your business so you can start projecting and following through with goals for the future. A periodic assessment, such as a quarterly and end of year assessment, will enable you to define what is healthy in your particular business and how well you are setting and meeting all of your goals and objectives.

If you’re feeling stuck in your business, as if all your efforts are not adding up to the kind of success you’ve been struggling so hard to achieve, now is the time to take a couple of days to assess all of the most important areas of the business. Tracking and testing can help you see what a difference it can make to your profits and the smoother running of your company.