Strategies for improving business performance in 2016

By now you’ve probably settled back in to the working week, feeling recharged from the Christmas break.  Your team is well rested and motivated to get stuck into all that 2016 has install. With your optimistic outlook and the positive energy surrounding your business it makes January the perfect month to reflect on the past twelve months and revise your strategies for the year ahead.

This time of year becomes integral to making sure the plans you set six months ago are still on track to deliver the results for the year ahead.

We mentioned in my Christmas email that our clients achieved an average business growth of 19% in 2015, a phenomenal result!  But in order to sustain this growth they are conditioned to handle constant disruption to their market all whilst being competitive with the latest trends and innovation and remaining profitable. 

We take the time in January to work with our clients to complete half yearly strategic planning, which allows the executive team to step out of the business and review, plan and execute key business strategies that position them for accelerated growth well beyond 2016.

If you haven't actioned your business plan for 2016, here are some simple thoughts that may help with igniting your own strategic thought patterns for the year ahead.

If you believe your trading well, how can you tell if your strategies have been effective?

Gaps appear many times when businesses believe they are achieving all their targets.  Your team can become lazy, not feel challenged and you the business owner yourself can drop the ball.  One or two bad months in a row these days can have a significant impact on the business and dramatically impact the results for the year.

Monitoring effectiveness comes down to reviewing to see what is working well for the business. To do this effectively you should have reporting systems in place to track your data and measure it against your key performance indicators (KPIs).

The data from sales and employee performance is particularly crucial in understanding if your strategies have been successful, but also in assessing whether one area of the business is carrying another and how this might impact you into the future.

Not only are your KPIs and employee performance important but also the revenue you are generating, the way you are spending your money and also the way you are saving your money. Cashflow management becomes key. Having a regular reporting function on this whilst reviewing your agreements with clients and suppliers makes sure it is meeting your overall business strategies, not only for now but well into the New Year.

Don’t limit yourself to your tried and tested strategies, check if some of these can improve your business performance.

Products/service – you may need to redefine your products/services and make any necessary improvements or changes or possibly even bring the business back to its core offering.  The key is to have the right products and the right clients to enable you to generate income that can increase profit.

Embrace new technology – if you haven’t already, it’s past time you embraced the technological world we live in.  This day and age the tools available to help productivity, performance and overall business management can play a major role in positively disrupting your business.

Business structure – Do you need to simplify your structure to be more competitive? Do you need to hire key management to help drive your business forward? Is it worth consolidating business units? Your business structure and how you operate should always be on the agenda for review and improvement.

KPIs- Setting KPIs is also a good strategy for improving business performance as they are aligned with achieving the business objectives

Sales – A number of businesses are now improving their sales team and looking at their commission structures to achieve increased growth.

Many businesses believe that Key Performance Indicators (KPI's) only mean tracking your dollar sales. Why have they got it wrong?

This is a common area for businesses to get wrong. When setting KPIs you need to look at what are the drivers behind your dollar sales. Focussing on purely sales volume will not necessarily get you the higher profits you are seeking. We have seen a lot of this in the market of late with discounting to increase sales but it doesn’t necessarily lead to higher profits.

If we consider what KPIs actually are: they are quantifiable measurements that reflect the critical success factors of an organisation. Hence they need to reflect the goals and objectives of that organisation.

Is it worth getting buy in from your team on your overall business strategy?

Your team is pivotal in improving business performance and it is important they understand what the goals of the organisation are, how they will be achieved and how they can contribute to the business success.  A team that is left in the dark has no direction, making it harder for an organisation to improve performance.

You need to:

  • Establish open lines of communication and be transparent
  • Foster a positive culture where the organisation is focused on the future direction of the business and is encouraged to bring forward ideas for improving business performance
  • Share with the team the plans for the business.
  • Rewarding key team members through incentives or Employee Share Schemes to keep them engaged and passionate about the vision of the organisation.


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About Author

Michael Derin
Michael Derin

Michael Derin, Azure Group's Founding Partner and Chairman has over 28 years’ experience as a qualified Chartered Accountant within the business and commercial sectors. Michael works across our Technology, Corporate Advisory and CFO operations, managing highly complex projects to success.

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