As we start a new year, there is a natural tendency for self-examination to review our achievements and think about improvement opportunities. If you are an entrepreneur, this is true not only for yourself, but for your company as well.
In many ways, a new year serves as a marker to inspire us to do better; it fills us with the hope that we will reach new heights and overcome challenges of prior years. As a business owner, this is your chance to start fresh and pursue your goals with renewed energy.
While you may have your own list of goals for the coming year, I would like to suggest a few key areas that will not only help solidify your company’s footing, but they will also improve its value.
Review Your Workplace Policies
If you are like most entrepreneurs, you recognize that your workforce is the primary driver of your success. The start of a new year is a terrific time to re-assess your benefits and workplace policies to see where you can make improvements.
When was the last time you reviewed your employee manual? If you have an HR Manager, schedule a sit-down with her to go over your policies and practices. If this function falls on you, take some time to review your rules and regulations. You may be surprised at how outdated some of your policies may be. Here are a few key areas to examine:
- Compliance: Are your policies in compliance with current/recently enacted federal and state laws? Changes in legislation impacting the workplace often go unnoticed by employers. This does not mean you are not responsible for complying with them. Consider consulting with an employment attorney. The cost is well worth the peace of mind you will receive knowing you are following the rules.
- Compensation: Is your compensation structure still aligned with your industry’s and region’s standards? Are your benefits competitive? Have you been rewarding your top performers to encourage job satisfaction and retention? As you know, finding and keeping talent is one of the most important components of running your business. You don’t want to lose valued employees because your compensation is not commensurate with their abilities. It will cost you a lot more in the long run to scramble to fill these important roles with new employees.
- Culture: While company culture is often an intangible concept, you know instinctively if your culture is working. Review leadership models, employee attitudes, and overall culture to see if they need adjusting. Do your workplace policies reflect your core values? If you believe in corporate responsibility, do your policies encourage these practices? If your company values a work-life balance, do you offer flex time and work-from-home opportunities?
Review Your Practices
As a company grows, there is a tendency for well-intentioned policies and practices to begin to fall by the wayside. This is a perfect time to review these standards to see if they need adjusting or more diligent enforcement. Some of these areas can include:
- Communication: Are internal and external communications being handled professionally and efficiently? This includes phone, email, and in-person interactions and etiquette. Do your employees treat your customers, vendors, and partners with the respect and professionalism you require? Take a moment to reflect on the tone of communication within your company. If you were your customer, would the communication style of your employees make you feel welcomed and appreciated?
- Management Structure: You have created leadership roles and a chain of command within your company for a reason. If every issue, challenge, and question land on your desk, your management structure is noir working. Ask yourself: Is your organizational chart being followed? Is there a pathway for employees to follow regarding projects, creative ideas, requests, and grievances?
- Client Onboarding: Your client’s initial experience with your company sets the tone going forward. A positive experience goes a long way in demonstrating your company’s commitment to meeting their needs. Is your intake and onboarding experience as smooth and efficient as it can be? Again, put yourself into your client’s shoes: Would you be happy with your company’s onboarding process?
Whether your company is in a growth stage or you are planning your exit strategy, improving your business foundation will help you achieve your objectives. When your company is fully compliant and efficient with a strong workforce, you are able to enhance its overall valuation.