Part of the culture of business success at Newtrade is to have a regular cycle of meetings to review strategy, to check that we are on course and that our strategy remains fit for purpose.

The prime function of our company is to help independent retail owners make a success of their business investment in the UK convenience market. We do this through sharing information and ideas in Retail Express and in other ways, including the weekly RN magazine, benchmarking with the Independent Achievers Academy, on betterRetailing.com and on social media.

The value we add for our customers seems pretty simple when you say it out loud. Success is when we serve up a great idea to a retailer when they are looking to take their business to the next level or when they have a problem and they are looking for a workaround or a fix.

Sometimes you find it difficult to explain what you are doing and that is a good sign that you have not got your business model right. But the big benefit is mostly you get to find out all the things that you do well and that really motivates everyone about the future

Plus, every day our retail audience is being bombarded with new ideas, new information and new competitive threats and opportunities.However, what keeps us up at night and makes the job interesting is that there are more than 40,000 independent business owners in the UK market all with different ideas, different customer mixes and at different stages of development.

Getting out of the ‘shop’ to review what you are doing is very valuable to any business, no matter what its size.

At Newtrade, we have three quarterly days where the senior team reviews what is working well, what we should do more of and what needs to be improved.

And once a year we have a really big meeting when we are joined by the board, which includes three retailers and three outside business experts, to dig deeply into checking that we properly understand what we are doing and where our business is headed.

Among the benefits of doing a review is by stopping to think about what you are doing and by explaining it to others out loud you need to think hard about what is important. Sometimes you find that you are getting distracted by things that are not important.

Sometimes you find it difficult to explain what you are doing and that is a good sign that you have not got your business model right. But the big benefit is mostly you get to find out all the things that you do well and that really motivates everyone about the future.

Ahead of our most recent review I spent time talking to a number of retailers who are customers of Newtrade about their businesses and what they were doing to be successful. What I found was some are doing business reviews and some are not. Some involve their staff and some do not. Some get outside advisers involved and some do not.

The message of this column is simply to recommend that every business does introduce some form of review, offsite and with time protected from interruptions.

What might your agenda be? The key question I think every business has to ask is how might it be disrupted by competition you have not even thought about. In the convenience market big questions include:

  • What will local shoppers be looking for in five years’ time?
  • Will the things we are good at now still make profits next year?
  • How do we need to change to be ready for tomorrow’s customers?
  • Who is going to lead us forward?
  • Are we set up to be successful in this new market place?

These are all scary questions but the more you ask them and the better your structure is for finding answers the more happy you will be about your likelihood of being successful.