The New Year is always a great point in time to look back and then start afresh – are you ready to make 2016 be the best year yet? Are you planning a whole list of resolutions for your business or just looking for small improvements? Here are a few suggestions to help you start the year off right. No time or energy to plan for an entire year? Try our initial “quick fixes” and just focus on them for a day or a week; if they work, you can always repeat them and before you know it, you might just create a new habit. Or, being successful in smaller chunks might get you motivated to try the “deep dive” – just read on and see what works for you:
Focus for a day:
Design your day around essentials
“If you got three important things done every day in your professional life, would that be a good day?” Most people say yes, but few actually design their days to realize that outcome. Try to start your day asking, “What are the top three most important things I want to do today?” By doing so, it enables you to be intentional with your choices, and stay on track.
Helping others can help you both in your business and in your life. Setting time away to give back can be incredibly positive and rewarding. Consider opportunities where you can offer your business’s services or products. Not only will you feel good about helping out, it may expose your business to new audiences and enable you to meet others, who like you, are dedicated to doing good. Donating your “time, talent, or treasures” also just feels good. It can lift you up and put a positive spin on your business that will be reflected in everything you do.
Focus for a week:
Talk to a New Prospect Each Day
It’s great to have a handful of wonderful customers who pay on time. But, putting all your eggs in one basket can be risky even under the best of circumstances. Healthy businesses with long-term growth potential continuously add new customers. One of the simplest ways to accomplish this is to make a promise to yourself to reach out at least once a day to a potential new customer. Some may not become customers. But, others will, and a few may even refer you to others who will want what you’re selling. This means exponential growth over time, and that’s when your growth potential can begin to skyrocket.
Take Care of Yourself
Growing and running your business can be all consuming, but try to make an effort to spend time away from work. This should include time for meals, exercise, family, friends, community activities, and, most importantly, rest. You will be more productive and happier if you have time for yourself. Plan your week accordingly and set specific days and times away from your business, and yes, that means you shouldn’t be checking emails or answering work phone calls in that time either 😉
Did these exercises get you excited about change? Here are our suggestions for a deeper dive:
Focus for a month/year – Long term planning:
Plan your Work and Work your Plan
If you are like most small business owners, you are running on top speed for much of the time, leaving very little focus on developing and implementing an actual plan of action. To start off, carve out a little bit of time to reflect on where you’ve been and where you want to go. To chart your road map for 2016, consider these exercises:
What is your core competency?
You probably went into business because you are an expert in your field and truly enjoy the core business. But as a small business owner, you also find yourself wearing multiple different hats. Now is a good time to take stock to see if there are tasks that could be performed by someone else so that you can focus on doing what you do best. Hiring a bookkeeper or accountant or someone to build and manage your website allows you to stay focused on what brings in money.
What trends or changes are occurring?
What trends or changes are occurring in the world or your industry that can help you to succeed? Are there new markets opening up, are new products or services coming to the market? How will that affect your current product mix – should you invest in new trends, modify what you have or hold steady?
What are your competitors up to?
Competition is healthy. There are a lot of smart people out there. Who are your competitors? What are they doing? If you take the time to study what your competitors are doing, it may help you to identify gaps in your industry that no one is focusing on and that can lead to opportunities for growth.
Are you operating as lean as possible?
A large number of business failures could have been avoided if the principals would have just spent more time studying the profits and losses. The beginning of a new year is a great time to look at what your businesses is costing you. Is there a less expensive way to operate? What are your largest expense lines and is there a way to trim them down?
Studying your financials, as part of this exercise is incredibly important, regardless of how small your business is. You will save yourself a lot of money if you know where every cent is spent and how to keep more of them in your bank account.
When you take the time to assess your core competency, study your industry trends, your competitors and your financials, you will find things that you need to change, employees that are not performing to your standards, products that you are losing money selling and new products you could be selling. But the next step is the most important: Drop what is not working! When you find things that are not helping you grow, you have to shed them – fast.
This may sound harsh, but you are in business to profit and grow. If an employee is not performing to the standard and you have exhausted all attempts to remedy, then you need to let them go. If a dollar-cost-analysis has made you realize that you are losing money every time you sell your flagship product, then you need to get a new flagship product. If you are driving your company down a road that is aged and clearly no one else is on, then you need to get with the trends and change direction.
By looking at your core competency, the trends in your industry, your competitors and your own financials, you will be able to re-invent or streamline your business for the New Year.
Now go and make it your best year yet!