Ah, a new year. A time to kick into high gear again, am I right? Well, that may work for some, but as you’re aware, successful small business owners are an incredibly optimistic, hard-working bunch.
However, having a successful year is rooted in innovation, calculated risk, experimentation, and most of all — consistent execution. These elements are part of an ongoing small business plan.
Coming from a year of having to perform all those tasks and then some from previous years can mean a more than daunting task to commit to stepping back to assess before moving forward into the new year. This pause is essential, though, to put forth the best business plan.
We often want to keep running full speed ahead. But making the intentional decision to implement some of these small yet effective tactics from the beginning can set your small business up for success.
Do you have a business plan? There’s a distinction between enthusiastically planning for the practical strategies, campaigns, changes, and initiatives we’ll be taking on in the year to come—and frankly scrambling to accomplish to “do business” and never actually having time to work on the business with the timely attention it deserves. So let’s meet halfway.
Invest in your people NOW
This step is the most critical step toward a successful year. So I will spend more time with this one because it makes everything else possible.
The new year is traditionally “hiring season” as professionals are setting New Year’s resolutions and reevaluating their priorities, including their professions and current companies. The sustainability of your star and current team members will save you time, money, and energy.
There are a multitude of methods for improving a company’s personnel. But the straightforward approach is the best route.
One of the less common approaches is to engage with your team and make them feel heard. So if you haven’t made it a priority, start hearing from your team. It only takes a bit of time. A Q&A 5-minute session at the end of meetings, a check-in email, and an open-door policy all count.
And I mean hearing from everyone. When tough stuff starts to hit the fan, and everyone needs to be “bought in,” it’s effortless to expect everyone on the team to be excellent executors. This route ultimately drains your team, though, so it’s far better to get their feedback before adversity. It’s far more favorable for the team to stick together should trying seasons come, and they will.
Not all team members need incentivizing the same way; you might have lost people in the last year because let’s face it, they have different motivations than the rest. The easy (yet not impactful) way to chalk that up was to surmise that they were “not a good fit.” That might be true.
There’s a chance there wasn’t alignment long before that moment of departure, or it could have been that they didn’t feel that leadership valued their opinions and contributions.
So, leader, it’s a new year—time to meet with your people. Get a pulse on your small business’s lifeblood and understand what makes them buy in, enough to make them stay for the long haul.
I assure you the other companies out there are looking to hire right now, so if you want to keep your best, all it takes is a little genuine attention their way.
Pivoting To Prevent Loss of Key Partnerships
Now that you’ve taken a pulse on your team, it’s time to do the same for your consumers.
Did you lose customers? Your customers, vendor partners, and suppliers are likely looking at their connections during the new year, too.
If some moved on last year, now is the time to find out why. And to make the decision not to wait until they leave next time. Again, it’s best to talk with them before making their moves (or prevent it entirely, if possible).
Consumer habits and needs changed drastically in the past year. And suppliers likely felt more stress than years past. Like any rough scar, there is a chance you still see it from time to time, and the bumps and bruises from last year are no exception. A year like 2020 will affect people and organizations for the foreseeable future. Like any other adversity, we can use it as a learning opportunity.
A substantial portion of the Austin population has been affected by the virus. Many individuals are concerned about their safety and their loved ones, and a fair amount of people are close to someone who may be immunocompromised.
This large scale lifestyle change has created a great demand for companies with socially distant practices and remote opportunities. Ideas such as curbside pickup, contactless delivery, and virtual services have boosted sales for many industries.
Depending on your industry, your company can likely react to your customers’ changing desires to promote business. Answering the need for customers’ rapidly evolving desires will protect key partnerships and prove extremely important in the upcoming year. Put yourself in their shoes — what would you want? A company with a heart that will support them in their trying time, or a company that refuses to rise to meet the challenge to help their customers?
Review Your Company’s Promise
With so much change and moments of survival mode, it’s easy to lose sight. What does your company stand for? One thing to build around is a company promise. What are your mission, vision, and values?
Whether displayed on the factory floor, known but yet unspoken, a company in many circumstancesIt’spromise is a beacon of hope and a lighthouse shining a clear direction for all who work for and buy from the company.
A Company Promise sometimes called a vision statement, is the glue that holds a company together, creating cohesivity within the company.
To stray from the company’s overall goal is to lose direction. Pivoting is one thing, but breaking the promise is another. To maintain the company structure, reviewing and discussing the vision statement can help everyone stay on the right track, despite any challenges that may continue to arise.
After a whirlwind of a year, it may be easier to stick with your strengths, in many cases, to continue to put your head down and keep plugging away at producing. But taking the time to do these three things will make all the difference.
If you are interested in learning more about selling your small business, you can check out the process here.