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An overview of the firm activities in the corporation a focus on the core activities

Breaking down your strategic review Why it's vital to review the progress of your business It's easy to focus only on the day-to-day running of your business, especially in the early stages. But once you're up and running, it can pay dividends to think about longer-term and more strategic planning. This is especially true as you take on more staff, create departments within the business, appoint managers or directors and become distanced from the everyday running of the business.

Reviewing your progress will be particularly useful if you feel: Setting the direction A clear business strategy will help to answer any concerns and show practical ways forward. Questions you might want to ask include: To answer this you need to look at where you are now, where you want to go over the next three to five years and how you intend to get there.

What are my markets - now and in the future? Which markets should I compete in, how will they change and what does the business need in order to be involved in these sectors? How do I gain market advantage?

8 Best Practices in Business Management

How can the business perform better than the competition in my chosen markets? What resources do I require to succeed? What skills, assets, finance, relationships, technical competence and facilities do I need to compete? Have these changed since I started?

What business environment am I competing in? What external factors may affect the business' ability to compete?

Popular 'General Business' Terms

How am I measuring success? Remember, measures of performance may change as your business matures. It's doubtful whether you will be able to answer these questions on your own - involving your professional advisers, your fellow directors and your senior staff will all help to make your review more effective.

Assess your core activities A good starting point for your review is to evaluate what you actually do - your core activities, the products that you make, or services that you provide. Ask yourself what makes them successful, how they could be improved and whether you could launch new or complementary products or services.

Key questions about your products or services It's useful to address these questions: How effectively are you matching your goods and services to your customers' needs?

If you're not quite sure what those needs are, you could carry out further market or customer analysis. See the page in this guide on how to conduct a customer and market analysis.

Review your business performance

Which of your products and services are succeeding? Which aren't performing as planned? Decide which products and services offer both a high percentage of sales and high profit margins.

  • Answering these questions will give you the basis on which to improve performance and profitability;
  • The purchase of long-term assets is recorded as a use of cash in this section;
  • Are staff motivated and satisfied?

What's really behind the problems of a product or service? Consider areas such as pricing, marketing, sales and after-sales service, design, packaging and systems during your review. Look for "quick wins" that give you the breathing space to make more fundamental improvements. Are you reviewing costs frequently? Are you keeping a close enough eye on your direct costs, your overheads and your assets? Are there different ways of doing things or new materials you could use that would lower your costs?

Consider ways in which you can negotiate better deals with your suppliers. Answering these questions will give you the basis on which to improve performance and profitability. Assess your business efficiency Many new businesses work in a short-term, reactive way.

This offers flexibility - but can cost time and money as you move from getting the business going to concentrating on growing and developing it.

  • However, financial indicators are considered historical and backward looking;
  • Cash flow - this is the balance of all of the money flowing in and out of your business;
  • In this case you might consider:

The best option is to balance your ability to respond rapidly with a clear overall strategy. This will help you decide whether the actions you take are appropriate or not. At this stage you should ask yourself if there are any internal factors holding the business back, and if so, what can you do about them? Consider the various aspects of your business in turn.

Premises What are your long-term commitments to the property?

core business

What are the advantages and disadvantages of your current location? Do you have room to grow, or the flexibility to cut back if necessary? If you move premises, what will be the cost? Will there be long-term cost savings and improvements in efficiency?

Facilities If you manufacture products, how modern is your equipment? What is the capacity of your current facility compared to existing and forecast demand? How will you fund any improvements? How do you compare with your competition? Information technology What management information and other IT systems do you have in place?

Will these systems cater for any proposed expansion?

What are 'Business Activities'

Will they really make a difference to the quality of product or service your business provides? If they don't, can you change them to make sure they do? Do you make best use of technology such as wireless networking and mobile telephony to allow for more flexible working? People and skills Do you have the right people to achieve your objectives?

  • Consider the various aspects of your business in turn;
  • In summary, firms outsource for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to;
  • The cash flow statement adds back and deducts certain noncash items such as depreciation , amortization , accounts receivable and accounts payable;
  • In the new phase of your business you'll need to plan your finances and resourcing carefully at all times.

Do they know what is expected of them? Do you operate a training and development plan? Do you pay as well as the competition?

Core activities

Do you suffer from high staff turnover? Are staff motivated and satisfied? Professional skills Do you have the right management team in place for growth?

Do you have the skills available that you need in areas such as human resources, sales and IT? Do your staff need new or improved skills or to be retrained? Review your financial position Businesses often fail because of poor financial management or a lack of planning. Often the business plan that was used to help raise finance is put on a shelf to gather dust. When it comes to your business' success, therefore, developing and implementing sound financial and management systems or paying someone to do it for you is vital.

Updating your original business plan is a good place to start. When reviewing your finances, you might want to consider the following: Cash flow - this is the balance of all of the money flowing in and out of your business. Make sure that your forecast is regularly reviewed and updated.

Business Activities

Working capital - have your requirements changed? If so, explain the reasons for any movement. Compare this to the industry norm. If necessary, take steps to source additional capital. Cost base - keep your costs under constant review. Make sure that your costs are covered in your sale price - but don't expect your customers to pay for any business inefficiencies. Borrowing - what is the position of any lines of credit or loans?

Are there more appropriate or cheaper forms of finance you could use? Growth - do you have plans in place to adapt your financing to accommodate your business' changing needs and growth?

Conduct a competitor analysis Now that you have been running your business for a while, you will probably have a clearer idea of your competitors. Gathering more information may cost time, money and effort, but there are many benefits to knowing more about what your competition is doing.

What you need to know The type of competitor information that will be really useful to you depends on the type of business you are and the market you're operating in. Questions to ask about your competitors include: This will show you how you are doing in relation to the market in general and specifically your closest competitors. See the page in this guide on models for your strategic analysis. How to find out more There are three main ways to find out more about your competitors: What they say about themselves - sales literature, advertisements, press releases, shared suppliers, exhibitions, websites, competitor visits, company accounts.


What other people say about them - your sales people, customers, local directories, the Internet, newspapers, analysts' reports, market research companies. Commissioned market research - if you need more detailed information, you might want to commission specific market research. Conduct a customer and market analysis When you started your business, you probably devised a marketing plan as part of your overall business plan.

This would have defined the market in which you intended to sell and targeted the nature and geographical distribution of your customers. From that strategy you would have been able to produce a marketing plan to help you meet your objectives. When you're reviewing your business' performance, you'll need to assess your customer base and market positioning as a key part of the process. You should update your marketing plan at least as often as your business plan.

Revisiting your markets A business review offers you the opportunity to stand back from the activity outlined in your plan and look again at factors such as: At the same time, it is important to remember that while reviews of this kind can be very effective - they can give your business the flexibility it needs to beat off stiff competition at short notice - it is important to think through the implications of any changes.

In the new phase of your business you'll need to plan your finances and resourcing carefully at all times.