How do you make 2013 your best year in business yet?
Here are four great questions business owners should be asking themselves to start the year off right and get the maximum out of 2013. Do it now before the busy takes over and you end up caught up in the currents of chaos and misdirection. Don't continue in mediocrity!
1) What achievements in 2012 are worth celebrating and what actions should I repeat this year?
As our businesses change we often forget to keep doing the things that worked so well before, so take a look at what promotions or actions you have taken that produced results. Write them down and make them part of your plans for 2013.
Last year one client I coached increased their sales by 74% and handled the workload with relative ease. Another went from being under enormous pressure from creditors to healthy cashflow, working 70 to 80 hours per week to working 30 to 40 hours per week with 3 days off. Well worth celebrating and duplicating!
Some things in common with these clients - they all:
- Set very specific GOALS early then stayed focused and refused to be distracted.
- Realised that they could not achieve these things alone, and make sure the right people were in the right places to help them.
- With the right people in place, they made sure these helpers knew the end goal and what was expected of them - and put in place regular meetings to make sure everyone kept on track.
- They used regular testing and measuring against their GOALS, and adjusted if they were not on target.
2) What did not go so well last year and what lesson can I learn to make sure these mistakes are not repeated?
What mistakes or decisions have you made in the last year that were bad for business? There were a lot of businesses I came across who did not have a great year; many were struggling with sales, margins were down, they were frustrated with their staff and felt they were the only ones who could do the job properly. Generalising, here are some very obvious mistakes that are worth mentioning:
- No clear direction or plan, and had to accept whatever circumstances were thrown their way.
- Gave no feedback or clear expectations to their staff and were frustrated with the results.
- Did not know how their company was performing, had no idea if there were making or losing money each month (always resulting in unpleasant surprises).
- Had no marketing strategies in place, so could not affect their sales in any significant way.
- Did not know how to attract new customers or even which customers were best for their business.
- Mindset "did not believe things could get better" (so they didn't).
What mistakes did you make, that you are no longer prepared to accept or repeat?
Action Point: Take a moment NOW to write down the mistakes you do not want to repeat.
3) What things must I do to have a better year in 2013?
This is a great question, and one that you should not just ask once a year, but every single day. If you consistently ask this question every day, you will be amazed at how focused you are in your business and what you will achieve. Also your mind will start working on finding the answers. Since completing both my business and personal goals for the year, I have had more focus and already I can see they are more achievable than before I started.
In my experience goals are only effective if you keep looking at them and comparing your progress, breaking them down to smaller targets with specific time frames. Only then will we be able to keep on track. I also find that the more focused my clients are on the target, the more results they achieve.
Are you excited yet? You should be. Seeing what your future can look like is certainly exciting for me.
Action Point: Spend a few minutes writing down your GOALS.
If you have already written down your GOALS for this year, I would encourage you to look at them again and make sure they are:
Specific - In other words they must be very clear, and you should be able to answer these questions: what, why, who, when and where.
Measurable - You should be able to measure the result.
Attainable - Attainable and realistic (ie you wont be able to double your business in 1 week).
Relevant - They need to be relevant and beneficial if they are achieved.
Time - You need to specify a specific time frame.
For example: XYZ Co will increase total sales from 1.5 million to 2.5 million for the year finishing 30th December 2013.
4) What would stop me from achieving the GOALS I have just set?
This may not be very positive, but lets be blunt. There will be some barriers, some things will get in the road. I like to call this life's way of asking if you are really serious about what you have just decided. You go on a new diet and the next thing you are being offered is the best looking chocolate cake you have every seen in your life. Say NO to the cake and let your resolve snowball into great success. In business, there will always be a hundred other things to take your attention, but you must stay focused.
Maybe your GOAL is "I want to increase my sales or profits by 50%". This is a great goal, but also think about what could stop you from doing that.
If you see the barriers before you get to them, you will already have thought of strategies to deal to them and you won't be caught off guard.
Action Point: Write down all the barriers that could stop you from getting to the GOAL, then beside each one, put what action needs to be taken to destroy the barrier.
Put the answers to these four important questions up somewhere you see them every day.
Remember: actions you have taken to date have got you to here. To get to the next level you will need to do some things differently. Goals and planning aren't always sexy but you must spend time on these tasks if you want to succeed.