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  • Writer's pictureRussell Lookadoo

Time for a physical?

Preventative health exams are important to living a long, healthy life. The diagnostic processes used in a physical exam tell us how to change or correct behavior to achieve this goal. Since a business is a living entity according to the Supreme Court, have you had a business physical lately?

A comprehensive physical looks at key systems and functions to determine how healthy the person is. The systems of a human body can be compared to those in a business and examined in a similar fashion to determine the viability of a business. By doing this a business owner can make the right corrective moves to achieve greater business wellness. Let’s begin the physical.

Respiratory System: In emergency triage the first priority is to start breathing. In a business, oxygen is marketing and sales. It is important that you have a sound marketing plan implemented to achieve sales. Without customers you may have a hobby, but it is not a business.

The exam:


  • What is your why and what makes you unique?

  • Who is your customer and how do you reach them?

  • How do your features benefit your customers?

  • Sales

  • What is your most effective channel?

  • Is your sales process documented?

  • Do you have key predictive measurements?

Circulatory System: The next priority in triage is to stop excessive bleeding. If the bleeding is severe enough, this may rise to the top. Without blood flow the oxygen cannot be transmitted throughout the body. In business, cash is blood. Without sufficient cash flow a business will cease to function. Inventory must be purchased; rent and utilities, payroll and taxes must be paid. Credit, which is a cash substitute, can be cholesterol in the circulatory system.

The exam:


  • Do you monitor vital statistics: Quick Ratio, Current Ratio, and AR/AP Days?

  • What is your breakeven point?

  • Do you routinely perform comparative operating statements?

Brain and Nervous System: The brain is like a central computer that controls all the functions of your body. The brain also formulates plans for the future. Along with the nerves this system determines what is going on, what priorities exist and what course corrections are required. The business equivalent is strategic planning. Without a strategic plan and a discipline of execution the business may be in a vegetative state. Progress will be random if at all. The efforts to run the business will be inefficient.

The exam:

Strategic Planning:

  • How current is your strategic plan?

  • Do you have laser focus on your priorities?

  • Do you have a disciplined and accountable approach to execution?

Skeletal System: The skeletal system gives the body its basic framework, providing structure and protection. Without the skeleton, the body would have no ability to grow, direct and control motion. A business without written policies and sound procedures is likewise out of control. Policies give guidance and order to how business is conducted. Procedures create efficiencies; enhance quality and the ability to grow.

The exam:

Policies and Procedures:

  • Are policies current and understood?

  • Are procedures documented and under control?

  • What is the process for keeping them current and planning for improvement?

Muscular System: Muscles permit movement of the body, maintains posture, and circulates blood throughout the body. The people in a business are the muscles. People unlock the doors, deliver products and services, move inventory, make sales, and provide direction. More than just hiring, and payroll, comprehensive Human Resources programs and processes are the muscular system of a business. The most important muscle is the heart; the heart of a business is its culture. Desks, uniforms and boxes of goods do not define culture, people do.

The exam:

Human Resources:

  • What is your culture?

  • Do you have HR systems that define and sustain your culture?

  • How do you actively define and defend the culture of your company?

After completing this high level business physical the questions are obvious. Is the business healthy and are you aware of what needs to be done enhance its wellness. Like heart disease in the human body, an unhealthy culture will inevitably kill a business. Ineffective HR strategies will result in lack of sales (oxygen) and cash flow (blood). If a business does not have the right people (muscles), doing things the right, way it cannot survive. So is your business going to make it?

Russell Lookadoo is the HR guy for small business. As president and chief strategist for HRchitecture®, he works with business leaders so they accomplish their goals by effectively using their teams. Russell brings over thirty years of experience designing and implementing performance management, motivational and rewards solutions that achieve business strategies in organizations ranging from a small manufacturer to the second largest bank in America. He holds the Senior Professional in Human Resources designation from the Society of Human Resources Management and earned the Certified Compensation Professional designation from World at Work. Russell attended the University of North Carolina on the prestigious Morehead Scholarship and graduated with a Bachelor’s in Industrial Relations.

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