How to Start the New Year off Right

December 3rd, 2013 by admin

This time of year, many business owners are looking at how their business performed last year and trying to figure out how they can improve in the New Year. Here are some tips to help you start 2014 right.

Look at how you operate your business and be sure you are truly focusing on your customers. Most business owners would say, “of course we focus on our customers”, but it’s easy to get busy with day-to-day demands and let yourself get into a rut when it comes to your relationship with customers.

It’s the beginning of another year.  Most companies are on a calendar fiscal year so as we roll in from the holiday breaks we have an ability to view our business from a fresh perspective.  Additionally, a quick look at the cumulative top line is a reminder that sales start over again at zero – a scary sight for sure.  As we contemplate these and other challenges, here are five steps for businesses to start the year:

1)    Talk to your customers.  Ask them what you’re doing well and what you’re not.  Ask what they want you to do differently.  Ask them what they like about your competitors.  Ask them for their wish lists—what do they need to help make their businesses successful.  Your ideas for new products and services are interesting.  Their ideas are invaluable.

2)    Re-evaluate your offering.  With the speed of change in business today, often the goods we sell or services we provide are dated.  What can be done to refresh the line? Are your services still relevant?

3)    Check the macro-environment.  Seems like this would be hard to miss as we’re bombarded with economic reports daily.  But we need to sit down and evaluate what’s happening around us from a government, regulatory, tax, etc. perspective and determine how this will affect our businesses in the coming year.

4)    Do a strategic plan for each competitor.  Huh?  Aren’t we supposed to focus on our own strategic plans?  Well, yes, but we don’t operate in a vacuum.  If we have no inkling what our competitors will do in the marketplace how can we hope to be successful on the same playing field?  A surprisingly low percentage of companies attempt to construct plans for their competition.  Then they are shocked when competitors make “illogical” moves.

5)    Pull people together.  Bring your team together and talk about things.  Discuss openly how people feel about the previous year’s results and what they want to accomplish for the next year.  Reinvigorate the team’s excitement about the vision or mission and recommit to the long-term goals you (hopefully) collectively established.

In a nutshell, we need to step back and view our businesses from 30,000 feet. We need to reconnect and listen to our customers.  We need to look around us at what’s happening that could impact us in the coming year from a macro and competitive standpoint.  And we need a recommitment from our teams.  What better way to jump start success in a new year?

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