At least try to make it past February this time…
Every year we all vow to do better ‒ professionally, personally, just generally. But, once the haze from the fireworks has cleared and we’re back in the daily grind, it’s hard to stick to those idyllic midnight convictions.
Preparation is the key to staying on top of things. Making decisions on the fly might feel invigorating but it’s a bad habit to get into. When decisions are purely instinctive, rather than part of your overarching strategy, it becomes difficult to isolate and measure successes.
So how can you spruce up your business in a way that’s sustainable throughout the year? Here’s a quick guide to addressing your oversights in 2017.
Start at the end and work backwards
Planning is the most potent weapon in your armoury ‒ simple as that. Start by laying out your business goals, what you want to achieve, as well as your weaknesses and opportunities. From there, you can plot a strategy to meet your targets over the course of 12 months.
Having a set framework to inform, structure and measure all of your business activity throughout the year is essential to maintain focus and manage expectations. Planning for anything is what gives you the confidence to persevere when you’re under pressure.
It’s worth sourcing ideas from all employees before you pack up in December and listing out your priorities. A 360-degree view of what your business needs will make sure nothing is overlooked.
Get your head in the cloud
It’s a common refrain that the modern workplace is more mobile than ever before. Indeed, for most employees, flexibility is more than an option ‒ but necessary.
Cloud-based applications are such a time-saver for anyone working remotely, collaboratively, or in need of feedback. If you or any of your clients are not working in the cloud, it’s worth suggesting to streamline everyone’s workflow.
Gone are the days of convoluted editing processes and fumbling around for USB hard drives. With shared storage platforms like Dropbox and Google Drive, you can have multiple people working on a document at the same time, from any location, on any device.
Seek out new partners
Small business is all about community ‒ not just within your own company, but between businesses. You understand each other’s pain points, you tend to hold similar values, and you’re fighting the same fight.
The strength of small businesses is that it’s easier to build genuine relationships. You’re only a handful of people, as opposed to someone serving a global corporate agenda. This opens the door for you to connect with like-minded businesses on a similar level.
If you’re not already familiar with neighbouring companies in your neighbourhood, building or workspace, make some introductions and see where you might be able to help each other out. No one’s just going to plonk an amazing business opportunity on your desk. Take the initiative to start a conversation.
Start a blog
These three words probably strike a mixture of fear and resentment into the hearts of many. For others, it seems like the height of self-indulgence.
The fact is, storytelling matters. Consider why most people ignore pamphlets handed to them in the street. There’s no context. It’s forcing the hard sell on people without giving them a reason to engage.
A blog can cater to all stages of the sales funnel, providing useful information for existing customers as well as those considering the brand, and even those who have never heard of you before.
Drive traffic towards conversions with clear calls-to-action (usually at the conclusion of each post). That way, if you do pique anyone’s interest to the point that they’re willing to make a purchase or inquiry, they can clearly see the next steps.
Freshen up job descriptions
It’s impossible to overstate the importance of talent recruitment and retention in business performance. The right people at the right time are hard to find, no doubt. Besides word of mouth from your employees, attraction often starts with the job description.
Don’t fall into the trap of repeating the same old formula. You know what it’s like to have to trawl through endless boring CVs. Imagine prospective employees having to do the same with job descriptions. What’s going to grab the attention of your ideal candidate?
Avoid jargon, buzzwords and cliches as much as possible. Write it the way a fun, articulate human would speak (NB. that doesn’t call for an ungodly amount of superlatives and exclamation marks). It’s amazing how often that gets forgotten.
Tidy up your finances
Yeah, alright, time for the boring stuff. Keeping the books balanced is a frequent problem area for small businesses. Like the proverbial teenager cleaning their room, you just hope against hope that mum doesn’t open the wardrobe and see the mess that tumbles out.
The ATO isn’t renowned for its leniency, so for everyone’s sake ‒ not least your own sanity ‒ it’s worth having all your ducks in a row before the taxman comes knocking. Even if you’re not particularly number-savvy, there are a number of useful accounting apps you can try out, such as Xero, FreshBooks and FreeAgent.
Whatever your priorities are for 2017, lay them out clearly; listen to your team; listen to your clients, and do as much of the legwork in advance to help out your future self.