How to work out what to improve in your business first (when there are a 1000 signs pointing in different directions)

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How to work out what to improve in your business first


Within your business, there are a TON of moving parts…

You’ve got that invoice from Bob to chase up, that Facebook Ad to write about your next promo, booking that appointment with Joe, writing and sending that proposal to Anne, that thing to prepare for the team meeting, Jillian is waiting on you to provide her something, and then there’s wrestling with your NEVER ENDING inbox.

And that’s just before having your morning cuppa, am I right?

I’m a business owner myself, so I get it. The demands on an Entrepreneur are huge.
You can never quite seem to get through the to-do list you want to in a day!

And then there’s that need to work ON your business not IN your business so that you can make sure you’re heading towards your goals… that’s gotta fit in there somewhere too…

So, how CAN you work out what to improve in your business first, amidst all these other demands?

The answer, in my experience, is to do these 3 things:

  1. You first have to understand all the moving parts that are key
  2. You need to get a measure of where your business is actually sitting right now in all of these areas
  3. Identify the thing that will make the biggest difference to you and make a plan to improve it
    For example:
    What needs improving ASAP before everything self-combusts?
    What’s mediocre but will have a major impact on your business if you make it better?
    And what’s going awesomely, that you just need to review regularly, but can otherwise leave alone?

Here are the 8 different bits we always recommend to consider:

  1. YOU – yep, that’s right, it’s time to take some self-reflection and look at yourself hard in the mirror. How organised are YOU, and are you looking after yourself? Because as the leader in the business, if don’t have your Shiz together, then that likely has a flow on effect.
  2. YOUR PLAN – do I mean that business plan you did that you filed away in the drawer never to be seen again? Nope, that’s not what I’m talking about! I’m talking about your working ACTION PLAN. The one you refer to weekly that evolves as your business evolves, but that sets you up for epic success.

    If you don’t yet have one of these then stay tuned, I’ve got a bunch of blog posts coming out in the next month about how to make a plan you’ll actually USE!
  3. YOUR MONEY $$$ STUFF – you know, the stuff that means you have a business, not a hobby. The stuff you rely on making to keep you in the lifestyle you’re accustomed to (or want to become accustomed to). How organised is your business when it comes to all the money stuff?
  4. HOW YOU STORE THINGS – we actually call this your Operational Systems and Processes. But really, much of it does just boil down to how you store stuff. What’s the flow of information or tasks in your biz like? Or are there holes in your buckets?
  5. YOUR PEEPS – aka your team. This includes your obvious team, like your salaried staff/contractors, and your less-obvious teams like your accountant or business coach. Do you have the right peeps? Do you have the right paperwork? etc…
  6. HOW YOU COME ACROSS – aka your brand. This is more than just a logo. This is your messaging, your language, how consistent and appealing everything is for your customers.
  7. HOW YOU SELL – We call this your Sales and Marketing Plan but really it boils does to – does your sales process work well for you and for your customers? Or could you do better at the telling people about your brand and getting them to buy part?
  8. IF YOU ARE LIKEABLE – we call this your customer experience. But, It’s quite simple really. Are you likeable?  Are you selling what your people want? Do you look after and communicate well with your customers? Or could you look after your clients better?

So, now that we’ve established the 8 areas of your business that are really fundamental to be organised around, how on earth do you work out how you’re doing in each of them so that you can work out what to improve first?

As we mentioned before, you need to take a measure.
Which involves taking a magnifying glass to your business to see what’s what.

How to take a measure of your moving parts

To do this you have a few options as well…

You could:

  • Spend hours yourself doing analysis (probably not the most fun for the majority of my readers)
  • Hire an expert to look into it for you (that could work, but it would cost)
  • OR, you could let us do all the hard work for you and use our In-Flight Audit™.

The In-Flight Audit™ will take you around 30 minutes to take the test, and after you’ve completed it will give you a report SHOWING you what’s going well and what isn’t.

FAQ: BUT, what if it shows you have lots to work on?

This is one of the main reasons that I hear people don’t want to take the test.

Because it can be scary seeing all the areas they need to improve laid out on a page! (And a lot of the time they’re already feeling overwhelmed)

This is what I reckon…

  1. If you have a lot to work on, you’re not special. (*guffaw, yes I really said that). You’re normal. Because I’ve never met a perfect business (least of all mine), and I undoubtedly never will. We all have bandaids over pipes in places, or piles of things we don’t want to deal with hiding in the back of the closet. We all have something that we need to improve that we are just not getting around to. And that will always be the case. (Because inevitably as soon as one thing improves, something else needs fixing.)
  2. Having them laid out on a page can actually make it a lot easier to visualise a solution to what you need to improve in your business first.

So, if you are serious about improving your business, you can’t be a chicken when it comes to doing the measurement (of anything).

It’s such a vital part, otherwise, how will you know if what you’re doing is working OR if your strategy is the correct one for you?

(You can pause and the audit here now if you want, I’ll wait …)

How to make a plan for improvement

So now you’ve got your measure and it’s time to make sense of it and work out what to prioritise. Because you can’t work on it all at once, and I’d never recommend that you try.

Choose one thing!

We always recommend working on one area at a time (if you have a team you can work on one area per team – but the magic numbers here are that each ‘team’ must be at least 3 people, otherwise you should stick with one thing total).

The most common one thing…

Usually, for most businesses, if you don’t have a really good Action Plan, I recommend starting there. Because that sets up the framework which will lead to the success of everything else.

How to choose the next one thing…

How you choose the next one area should be based on what will have the biggest impact on your business right now.

I recommend going through and scoring the areas using the following points system:

4 points – affects ALL customers, team and financials/sales now
3 points – affects all customers and team now
2 points – affects some customers, team and financials now
1 point – affects some customers now
0 points – internal processes

It’s simple really – The highest points win.

Just remember that any new solutions you put in place should be SMART. Read more about what makes a system SMART here.

You’re looking for the area of your business that will give you the most bang for your buck. Or return on your effort.

How you go about improving that now that you’ve chosen your one area, is a bit more tricky to answer in a single blog post. For answers around that, I’d recommend booking in for a BOSS Test debrief session. Then we can help you make sense of your report and work out where to go from there.

Hope that helps!


Kat Soper - The Helpful Academy

About the author:

Kat Soper is the Founder and Head Trainer of The Helpful Academy Online Business School.

Kat is passionate about helping start-ups and small businesses succeed and achieve their business goals so that they can achieve the lifestyle they desire (and deserve).

If you’d like individualised help with growing your business, check out our services.


  • I’m still new to my business so everything seems important and therefore overwhelming! I need to buckle down and pick my own thing to work on!

  • What a helpful post! Thank you so much for this quality blog post!
    My biggest takeaway was what you said in the beginning ”Identify the thing that will make the biggest difference to you and make a plan to improve it”. Sometimes I focus all my energy on details and other stuff of my business which are not going to make any difference at the end of the day! So it’s interesting for me to first take a step back and take a look at what actually would make a difference! Thanks again! Loved this! ?

  • Thanks for this post! Super helpful and I definitely have some work to do now! At least I know where to do that work, which is half the battle! 🙂

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    Have you done an In-Flight Audit™?

    Feel confident about what to work on in your business next:

    The In-Flight Audit™ assesses 26 areas of your business within 20 minutes, and provides you with a step-by-step personalised plan for taking FLIGHT!

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