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Mid-year vitality check crucial for SME success

It seems like it was just yesterday that we were preparing to celebrate the beginning of a new year and the possibilities it held  amidst adjusted Level 3 lockdown regulations. Business owners have faced a gauntlet of hurdles, brought on by COVID-19, but have adapted repeatedly and some have found ways to navigate this brand new business world. Now, here we are, halfway through the year with six months left of 2021. It’s time to take a retrospective look at what we’ve done and how far we’ve come. It’s time once again, to take stock.

It’s not about stock take in the physical sense (although many business owners are likely doing just that), it’s about setting time aside to reflect on the business goals that were set at the beginning of the year, as well as on your personal goals as a business owner. Here are some of the aspects that are central to taking inventory and measuring your trajectory for meeting those goals.

Ask Yourself What’s Working and What’s Not

During the ’30’s/40’s, a company by the name of Globe Wernicke invented industrial “in and out” paper trays, so that office clerks could systematically sort through their mail. Today, the “in and out” trays have become synonymous with office-bound work – and is a good analogy for taking stock. As business owners, you need to review your inventory list and decide what to get rid of and what to keep – in other words: what’s working for you and what isn’t? It’s important to be ruthless about it. If a business associate is holding you back, it might be time to reconsider the boundaries of your relationship. Consider your pricing structure – have you adapted it sufficiently to maintain a competitive edge in these trying times? What about your stock ordering system; is it efficient or are you having to chase your suppliers to meet their deadlines? If it works, it stays. If it doesn’t, it goes in the “out” tray.

Crunching the Numbers

Halfway through the year is an ideal time to take stock of your financial position. It’s important to have a profit-and-growth mindset, particularly as a small business owner. Revaluate your revenue streams and make sure you have a few – in a turbulent economic landscape the most innovative entrepreneurs are those who can diversify their income streams and pool their resources. Ask yourself how you can monetize new aspects of your business and where the opportunities lie.

Another key consideration is what you’re spending money on, and if the people and activities you’re investing money in are producing sufficient returns. However, remember that an effective financial inventory goes beyond Rands and Cents. Time is money, so ask yourself the tough questions, such as; are you wasting time nurturing a client relationship that’s based on empty promises? Are you spending time micro-managing an employee who is not stepping up to the plate? Are you putting enough time aside to nurture yourself and ensure that your needs are met as a business owner?

Consider the true nature of your goals

It’s also a good time to reflect on where your goals originated. Whether you aspire to increase your profit margin by 20%, capture a bigger market share, provide better customer service, or improve employee training, make sure those goals are truly yours and that they are still relevant to your current position. Whatever your journey is as an entrepreneur, structure these goals around your specific needs and business vision. Your business goals should also be closely connected to your values and what’s truly important to you for them to be authentic – a business that is based on authenticity is more likely to be successful.

As we look to take stock at this mid-year mark, consider this quote by David Allen, award-wining author and founder of the “Getting Things Done” methodology:

“Sometimes the biggest gain in productive energy will come from cleaning the cobwebs, dealing with old business, and clearing the desks — cutting loose debris that’s impeding forward motion.”


About the Author: Ben Bierman

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Ben Bierman has been our Managing Director since 2015. He joined our company in 1990 and has risen through the ranks occupying various positions ranging from being a management accountant, Head of Information Technology and Chief Financial Officer. Ben is an avid reader, enjoys classical music and being in the outdoors including for hunting trips. He is our go-to-spokesperson for our SME Confidence Index, SME sector policy and trend matters, and business leadership articles.