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How To Set – and Keep – Your New Year’s Business Resolutions

By Lauren

Make twelve New Year resolutions for business, one for each month! By breaking them down into workable pieces, you’ll actually get them done.

Our local Bollywood-style keep-fit class in my local area is led by Nikita, an instructor who has inspired me on more than one occasion.  At our recent pre-Christmas dinner celebration, she surprised me with her response when I asked if she had made a New Year Resolution by answering ‘Actually I’ve made twelve!’

It turns out that in 2017, she implemented a different resolution every month.  I found myself hanging on to her every word, relishing her answers, and inspired to the core at this extraordinary young woman.  As I listened, I got excited thinking about the projects I had let slip and was yearning to get back to.

She told me that by having a new resolution each month, it ensured that they actually happened. They didn’t feel onerous. Better yet, she nipped procrastination in the metaphorical bud.  She now looked forward to the next one and planned how to execute it, as she basked in the rewards of completing the current one.

It didn’t take me long to start thinking how this idea could be applied to businesses.  To follow I’ve outlined some key business activities that are ripe for review and improvement throughout the year.  Feel free to use or adapt this resolution checklist to suit your particular business.

January – Review Your Business Plan

So many companies create a business plan to raise funds, and once successful, put it in a back drawer or under a pile of pressing ‘to dos’.  It gets forgotten.  But if you really want to achieve your goals, monitoring the plan versus actual achievements is imperative.  Take a look at your original plan and ask yourself:

1) Is it still relevant or does it need updating?

2) Is the company on target?

3) What works and what doesn’t?

4) Do you need to devise new products or services?

5) What resources or finances do you need to make the plan work better?

February – Mission Statement Review

When was the last time you looked at your company’s mission statement?  If it’s not serving as a daily motivation to both you and your team then it’s high time it had an update.  At its core your mission statement should address the following questions regarding your purpose as a business:

  • What do we do?
  • How do we do it?
  • Whom do we do it for?
  • What value are we bringing?

March – USPs

Why do clients prefer your company to that of your competition?  Why do they buy your services or products from you and not from someone else?  Not sure?  Ask them!

List your Unique Selling Points and get them confirmed by existing clients.  Ask them what they like about your company and what they don’t like.

Make sure your USPs are communicated by sales and marketing staff and all media outlets.

April – New Products & Intellectual Property 

Review your new products or services under development.

1) Make sure you are solving a problem that exists, that the market wants, and at the right price point.  The last thing you want to do is to develop a product and then look for a solution.  Market research is essential before you invest to heavily in a new idea.

2) What Intellectual Property is being created and should be protected?

3) Talk to a patent lawyer to make sure you understand what constitutes an ‘inventive step’. Make sure relevant staff understand this concept too.
May – Strategy

You have reviewed your business plan and your mission statement – basically you know what you want to do, you also know what’s working and what isn’t.  You also know your company USPs. Now is the time to develop strategies to achieve your company’s business plan.

June – Review Your Business Model

1) Does your business model make sense?

2) Is it hampering or helping to grow your business?

3) Is there a better way of getting your product or service out there?

Note: You may need to do more market research to answer these questions.

July – Staff Review

In an ideal world, staff are reviewed twice a year, or at the very least, once a year.  However, too often it’s seen as a box-ticking exercise and of no real benefit to the manager or the employee.

What can you do to make your staff reviews more effective?

For example, find you what three aspects motivate your team the most. How can you work with this information to further improve morale and productivity?

August – Continuing Professional Development

Following staff interviews last month, develop a staff-training plan to suit the individual employees in achieving their personal and company goals.

September – Costs Review

A periodic review of the cost of sales and expenses is imperative for keeping costs down.

Are there areas in which you can reduce the cost, and keep the same or even improve on the value?

Remember, your P&L improves not only by increasing revenue, but equally by improving margins, reducing overheads, and reducing the cost of sales.

October  – Analyse Your Sales

1) Look at year-to-date, and compare with previous years.

2) What sectors produce the most profit?

3) Which clients contribute to most of the sales in that sector?  Can you onboard similar clients?

4) Which clients should you be letting go?  Which clients / sectors are the least profitable?

5) What other products/services could you develop/sell and add value to your most profitable clients?
November – Request Testimonials / Referrals

1) Ask your best clients for testimonials (written or on video) to use in case studies, on your website, in brochures, etc.

2) Ask these same clients if they would be willing to refer/introduce you to other clients.

Note: The best time to ask this question is when you have recently completed a project for them and they are excited about the results.

December – Website

1) Take a long, hard and objective look at your website – is it up-to-date? The design of websites, like CVs, shop windows, fashion…change over time. What looked great a year ago, may not look as good now.

2) Review the websites of your competitors, new start-ups in your sector and other successful businesses to glean new ideas and inspiration

3) Consider your latest business strategy and figure out what your website needs to do to support that strategy

4) Create and manage a team to develop a design brief and up-to-date content

5) Make sure your other marketing tools are in line with any changes

I hope you enjoyed this article and it has given you ideas to improve and grow your company.  I also trust that it has demonstrated that New Year Resolutions for business need not be onerous, and once turned into bite-size chunks, become very doable indeed.

Lesley Rubenstein

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