Regular Tune-Ups Prepare Businesses for Long-Term Growth by Steve Nouss

Posted on February 18, 2014 by Steve Nouss

Successful businesses evolve over time. Their leaders continuously learn, adapt and manage through a series of internal and external issues that can affect their day-to-day operations and their long-term business goals. While some issues are easy to identify, others are harder to detect. In fact, it is quite common for some issues to go uncovered for long periods until they ultimately affect multiple areas of a business. This is especially true for leaders of growing small and mid-size businesses, who may find comfort in the status quo of doing things the same way they always have, or they may be so busy managing daily tasks that they loose sight of their long-term objectives.

To sustain growth, business leaders must take the time to continuously assess their operations and be nimble enough to act upon issues and opportunities and flexible enough to swiftly implement change as needed.

Consider the car enthusiast who spends years saving money to buy a prestigious, luxury vehicle. While he or she enjoys the comfortable and high-performing driving experience, he or she fails to bring the car in for regular tune-ups. Without looking under the hood, he or she is oblivious to problems that may be percolating beneath the smooth ride and equally unaware of minor issues that could result in a major breakdown in the future.

Similarly, small and medium-size businesses need to take the time to kick the tires of their enterprises to ensure all of their parts are performing efficiently, effectively and at their optimal levels. This requires business leaders to become adept at identifying the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats facing their organizations and doing so with brutal honesty.

SWOT Analysis

The factors that can contribute to a business’s success or failure include the internal strengths and weaknesses that are within the business’s control and the external opportunities and threats that are outside its control. By taking stock of these issues, management can shine a light on problem areas that impede business performance and operational opportunities that, when properly leveraged, can further growth.

To identify a business’s strengths and weaknesses, management should ask questions such as:

• What does the company do well, and what does it do poorly?

• What does the company do better than its competition, and in what areas does the competition excel?

• Is the company maximizing its competitive strengths?

• Is the company making the best use of the resources available to it, or is it relying on insufficient, outdated resources?

• Are employees making the best use of their time or is additional manpower needed to reach objectives?

• Do the company’s employees share the same vision and perceptions as management?

• Does the company have an effective corporate governance structure that outlines employees’ roles and responsibilities, establishes appropriate checks and balances and ensures operations, accounting, IT, sales and marketing are integrated and working in synch?

Identifying a business’s external opportunities and threats requires answers to questions that can include:

• Is the business aware of and adopting new technology, including ERP systems, cloud computing and internet marketing tools, that can help business operations?

• Are the economic winds changing in a business’s favor or against it?

• Has the regulatory environment changed?

• What market trends are affecting the industry in which the business operates?

• Does the competition have vulnerabilities that the business can exploit?

• Does the company or its competition plan to introduce new products or services that meet market demands or improve market conditions?

For over-tasked entrepreneurs mired in the details that make their business engines purr, a SWOT Analysis is not an easy undertaking. In these instances, it is often necessary to seek the assistance of unbiased outside counsel with the time, resources and experience required to conduct top-to-bottom reviews of all aspects of a business’s operations and assess whether the business is performing at its maximum potential. With a fresh perspective, a trusted business advisory consultant can uncover a myriad of current and prospective risks and rewards, recommend and help to implement strategies that minimize costs and risks while optimizing strengths and opportunities that can generate more revenue.

The Consulting Practice of Berkowitz Pollack Brant has extensive experience helping companies of all sizes identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that impact business operations and putting into place best practices that optimize long-term performance.

About the Author: Steve Nouss is chief consulting officer with Berkowitz Pollack Brant. For more information, call (954)712-7000 or email