The saying goes that hindsight is always 20/20. It follows then that the best way to make better decisions in 2018 and plan for success, is to look at 2017 and grow from there.
All the answers to your unique business lifestage questions
I can’t stress enough how important it is to understand - with absolute clarity - the successes and challenges you had last year, and what impacts these will have on your year ahead. This is probably the only way you will tighten up operations, lean up on wastage, and bulk up on profit.
Mirror, mirror, blindspot
When I was learning K53 rules for my driver’s licence, the one thing they drilled into my head was check your rear-view mirrors and your blind spots. Looking back gives you information on what moves you’ll make going forward.
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It’s also a great time to check for blindspots in your business decision-making:
- Break it down - Reviewing an entire year at once is too large and clumsy to get any meaningful data from. Break the year into bite-sized pieces. Assess revenue, profit, and cash flow, month by month. I like BOS for this, as it can give you this data immediately. If you don’t have BOS, use whatever ERP or accounting software you have.
- Green, orange, red - Assess how well you did at reaching your targets for last year. Was it too easy (green), just barely (orange), not at all (red)?
- Lost and found- Review how many clients you lost last year, and how many you gained.
- Lost client motivation - Discover why people walked away from your offering. BOS once again provides this information in an instant.
- Price - Perhaps you need to adjust your price-model, or shift your target LSM for 2018.
- Place - If your location is an obstacle, perhaps it’s time to consider moving.
- People - Ensure your people are well trained and enjoy working for you.
- Product - If your product itself is causing people to walk away, either change your marketing message (you might be confusing people on what your product actually is / does) or invest time and money into improving the offering in 2018.
Craft your roadmap for 2018
- Start with the end in mind - Steven Covey said it, and I practice it. Identify your ‘big picture’ for the year. Identify up to three main objectives for the year, and point everything towards those goals.
- Who, What, How, When - At the ‘big picture’ level, identify your goal owners: WHO will do it, WHAT they will do, HOW will they do it, and WHEN they will do it by. At this point, you can spot if you need to hire more people, or potentially upskill your current team.
- Equipment - The first quarter is a good time to evaluate your equipment needs and determine if you need to make another capital investment to reach your goals:
- Can your current equipment handle the forecasted workload?
- Will new equipment will make you more efficient / cost effective in the long run?
- Do you have enough cash to afford it?
- What expenses can be cut to offset this purchase (new equipment might require fewer operators / less overtime)?
- Measure - Strategy (who and why) informs tactical (what and when). Tactical is easier to measure. We use BOS’s built-in Indicators (KPI’s) to set targets for each member of staff.
- Micro goals - Break the goals up into quarters, months, and - if you have the time and ability - into weeks.
- Personal goals - What do you want to accomplish this year? Maybe you want more family time, more time to focus on your hobby, getting fitter, or more vacation time. You might need to automate some admin-heavy tasks that could be keeping you away from doing what is important to you this year. Identify where, when and with whom you will accomplish these goals. This is your roadmap for 2018 personal growth.
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Now that you have a roadmap for the weeks and months ahead, it is important to stick to it in the daily grind of pressing deadlines and busy client work.
- Calendar versus inbox - Live by your calendar, not your inbox. Inbox will keep you busy but will not get you closer to your big-picture goals. Schedule your day; assign time for emails / phone calls, etc. When it is time to answer emails, open your inbox and be productive.
- Discipline - Stay focused on what is important. For business owners this can be a real discipline, as there are always things pulling at our attention. Keep your eye on the prize, and your team - and success - will follow.