Having Checkpoints In Your Business

Today was spent going through my business and evaluating where I was at against my business plan, aspirations and goals.  I probably take a timeout once every six to eight weeks and go over where I’m at, make changes to my plans and critique where the business is at.

I call these checkpoint sessions.

I find in my online businesses things change really quickly when you look at them from a high level.  My ideas and plans six months ago look antiquated now and don’t really fit with how things have evolved in the business.

The checkpoint sessions help me re-align everything.

The problem is, if you don’t do that re-alignment you end up implementing a plan and driving an agenda that maybe doesn’t apply anymore.  As a result, you potentially end up doing damage to your business.

Let me give you an example.

A few years ago, some friends of mine built a very successful SaaS business targeted at business users.  It was a pretty fluid market around the document management space and they were getting traction here in Australia.  Their competitors overseas were all taking funding from venture capitalists and starting to expand their offerings in terms of products and markets.

My friends’ business just kept working on the strategy they’d been running for about three years.  They had their product roadmap and their marketing strategy all laid out and they weren’t willing to change.

Unfortunately, the landscape changed around them.

Two of their competitors were acquired by larger international software vendors.  That gave their competitors easy access to a sales force and distribution channel in Australia.  They came under immediate attack.

The biggest change though came from the fact that mobile had appeared and in particular the iPhone exploded onto the scene.  Their competitors jumped on building apps for their platforms whereas my friends believed the small screen was not optimal for working with documents.

Suddenly one day they realized they were way behind, they needed to expand their offerings, improve their product and grow their markets.  Unfortunately, by the time they woke up to this they were losing customers and having to cut back on staff.  They weren’t a good acquisition target and couldn’t raise money.

They tried to right the ship, but they were too far behind and eventually, they sold to a competitor for a fraction of what it was worth to get out.

The simple fact is, they didn’t checkpoint their business.  They had a very good multiyear strategy when they created it.  Their product roadmap was strong and technologically, they were innovators.  But as the market changed, it diverged from their path.  Without checkpoints and honest self-assessment, they didn’t see the need to adjust their plan.

I was thinking about it today – even things that have happened this week have made significant changes in my plan around executing in my businesses.  I’m not talking about willy-nilly shifting around what I’m doing – I’m not chasing shiny objects or not delivering what I planned.  I’m talking about seeing a better way of delivering value to your customers and yourself.

I came out of today re-invigorated about the next few months until the end of the year.  I’ll probably do my next checkpoint as part of my business planning for 2017, sometime in December.

If you’re interested in learning how I do business strategy and planning, then I encourage you to go pick up the April 2016 Issue of the newsletter where I walk you through the framework I use in businesses.

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