Last year I wrote 10 Tips for a Successful 2012 and this year I’m following up with some tips for a successful 2013 based on my thoughts about the current business climate and my experiences as a business coach in working with business owners over the last year. I trust you will find one or two of them helpful as you launch a new business year!
A successful year starts with a good plan. Review where you want your business (and your life) to be in 3 years or 5 years or 10 years, whatever length of time makes sense to you. Do you want to be doing the same things you are today, or do you want your business and your life to look different 3 years from now? Chances are you do. How does 2013 need to turn out in order for you to be 1 year further on the path to your goal? Create a plan to get there. This includes creating a set of strategies and a profit plan/budget so that you can implement your plan and measure your progress.
Work ON the Business Weekly
Don’t just wait until you have time to sit down and evaluate where you are and what course corrections you might need to take. You won’t do it very often! Take time each week for strategic planning for both the immediate short term (weekly) and to plan for what you can do this week towards your longer term implementation plan.
Use Your Calendar
To make your strategic planning and implementation plan work, you need to actually put your “Working ON the Business” time into your calendar. Honor it like you would an appointment with your best client.
Most problems that business owners have with customers, employees and business partners stem from a lack of timely, honest and respectful communication. Learn from your past mistakes and resolve to communicate with others the way you want people to communicate with you.
Have Regular Meetings
This goes hand in hand with communication. Regular meetings with your management team, your office team, sales teams or other teams in your company are critical to the regular flow of information about customers, employees, projects, initiatives, finances, etc. that keep your business running smoothly. Have an agenda and stay focused on the outcomes.
Review Your Key Metrics Monthly
If you have a plan, you have goals and numbers to hit: revenue and profit goals, sales goals, hiring goals, productivity goals, debt reduction goals, goals for how much time you want to work (or not work) in the business, and many others. Your internal process and technology systems should allow you to review the relevant numbers easily. How are you doing? What corrective actions do you need to take, if any?
Engage Your Audience
Customers are more discerning now than ever before. They don’t just want to be marketed to, they want to be engaged, and they want social proof. Building relationships with your customers and prospects is more important than ever in the world where so many of us our living our lives more transparently through social media, and online reviews and recommendations. Showing yourself as a trusted authority in your industry and sharing helpful information with your audience through your own channels and social media channels is very helpful to the process of engaging your market.
Talk With Your Customers
Make a customer communications plan. This goes along with engaging your target market since your existing or past customers make up the most valuable segment of your audience since they have already purchased from you. Making a customer communications plan can be as simple as deciding how often to contact your customers, what message (or helpful information) you want to send them and how you want to communicate it, whether by phone, in person, email, direct mail or online social media. Talking with your customers can also mean getting their feedback on their experience with you, or how you can help them better. This is an opportunity to ask for public feedback as well in the form on an online review which will help build your social proof with prospective customers.
With all of the things you would like to accomplish in your business, it’s important to chunk your initiatives down into concrete action steps that you can accomplish in a set time frame. That way when you engage in #2 Work ON Your Business Weekly, you know what to work on and when it needs to be done to move you forward in your overall plan. Don’t overwhelm yourself with too many things at once. You want to be able to celebrate small successes and milestones to keep yourself engaged and excited about your progress!
You can’t do it all by yourself! If you have a team of employees or business partners, you can mutually support each other. You can also assemble a team of advisors from outside your company to meet with you periodically – perhaps a trusted friend or family member, CPA, or other business advisors. You can join a peer group that will help hold you accountable to your goals, or you can work with a business coach. There are many opportunities for you to put the structure in place to achieve your goals.
One opportunity to kick start your 2013 is our 10 Week Business Intensive which starts January 29, 2013.
Here’s to your success!