Setting aside time to reevaluate your business and goals can be important if you want to take a strategic approach to the rest of 2019.

As the first half of the year comes to a close, it’s an opportune time to set aside a day—or several—for a business check-in. Reflect on what’s worked, what could use improvement, and how you’d like to proceed to make sure you’ll meet your annual goals. 

Not sure where to start? Here’s a checklist to help guide you in the process:

Conduct a SWOT analysis

A SWOT analysis can be a helpful tool for making strategic, big-picture decisions about how to grow and improve your business. You can find helpful templates and guides online, but, in short, you’re looking to identify your business’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

The strengths and weaknesses are internal factors. Such as your business’s reputation, customer base, employees, and assets. By contrast, the opportunities and threats are external and may include your suppliers, competitors, and changes in consumer behavior.

Generally, a SWOT analysis is done in a two-by-two table with strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in each box. You can ask yourself questions about your business (and look for prompts online) as you fill out each box. For example, what does your business do well? List the answers under strengths.

It can be helpful to have all your employees do this exercise and then compare and discuss the results.

Set your goals for the remainder of the year

Based on the results from your SWOT analysis, update your annual goals and set realistic timelines for 2019. Perhaps you’ve identified a good opportunity and can use your strengths to take advantage of it, or you can figure out ways to remove your weaknesses and protect against threats.

Consider hiring new employees

Hiring the right people can be difficult, particularly for business owners who want to control every part of their business. However, if you noticed your time is being taken up by work that can be summarized, turned into a process, and outsourced, it may be worth hiring someone else to take over. Additionally, if productivity is bottlenecked due to a lack of manpower, a new employee could be the key to growth.

Determine if you need to fire someone

Letting go of employees can be just as important as hiring, if not more-so, but it can also be difficult to do. If you’re looking for guidance, the Harvard Business Review has a step-by-step guide to firing someone.

Sometimes, you may even need to fire an employee who performs well but is toxic to your company’s culture, doesn’t embody your company’s values, and is negatively impacting other employees’ performance. Remember, at a time when hiring and retaining top talent is especially difficult, you want to do everything you can to make sure you keep your best employees happy.

Make sure you’re staying compliant

Local, state, and federal laws can change throughout the year, and you want to make sure your business is still in compliance. That might mean hanging new labor law posters, updating your business licenses, renewing permits, or adjusting employees’ to meet rising minimum wages requirements.

Depending on your industry, you may also need to double-check your insurance is up to date and that you’re complying with any new rulings from the regulatory agencies that oversee the business.

The Small Business Administration has a guide to compliance requirements based on the business’s entity type (e.g., an LLC versus a corporation) and links to additional federal agencies and departments that can help you determine your federal license, permit, and certification requirements. However, if you’re in a highly regulated field, you may want to hire an attorney to conduct a compliance audit.

Check in with your accountant or CFO

If you don’t manage your business’s day-to-day finances, you may want to schedule a meeting with whoever can provide the most insight into the company’s finances. (If no one springs to mind, you may want to hire an accountant to review your books and offer you guidance).

You might not need to understand everything in your financial reports, but you want to figure out if you have enough cash flow to follow through with your goals. If you need additional financing, understanding your options can also be important.

Look for educational opportunities

Whether you’re still working in the weeds or have taken on a managerial role in your business, continuing your education can help you stay competitive. This might mean attending a conference, taking an online course, visiting a local networking group, or enrolling in a mentorship program.  

If you’re not sure where to start, consider which skills will quickly move your business forward. You may want to learn how to become a more effective manager if you already have a large team. Or, you might want to figure out how to set up a social media ad campaign to grow your sales without having to hire someone.

Talk to your customers

Business owners have an endless list of to-dos and you may find yourself caught up in office drama, putting out operational fires, and forgetting that at the end of the day you’re delivering a product or service to your customers. The last item on this checklist is to schedule several phone calls or meetings with those customers.

Try to talk with a mix of brand-new and already loyal customers to find out why they’re buying from you, what they like, and what you could do better. You can gain valuable insight simply by asking the right questions and then listening without interruption. Use this insight, along with everything else you’ve learned from the other exercises above, to strategically tackle the rest of 2019.


This content is for educational purposes only and should not be construed as professional advice of any type, such as financial, legal, tax, or accounting advice. This content does not necessarily state or reflect the views of Bluevine or its partners. Please consult with an expert if you need specific advice for your business. For information about Bluevine products and services, please visit the Bluevine FAQ page.