This time of year can be one of the most crucial times of year for business leaders, as well as one of the busiest.
If you’re anything like me, you’re likely reflecting on the course of the previous year. You’re thinking about your successes as well as your failures. You’re evaluating new business opportunities. You’re likely brainstorming new, innovative ideas. And you’re identifying your goals for 2018.
In my experience, the end of the year is a good time to reflect on your business’s progress over the past year and plan how you want to propel your business forward in the year ahead.
Below are 5.5 tips to help make 2018 your best year yet in business.
- Set realistic goals: We all know that we should set goals, but you might not know how to set goals effectively so that they are realistic and achievable. I encourage my team to set SMART goals – goals that are Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. SMART goals can help you clarify your ideas, focus your efforts, use your time and resources effectively, and increase your chances of achieving what you want in business, and in life. Take a few moments this month to write down your goals, as studies have shown that you are far more likely to achieve your goals if you do so!
- Involve your team: Your team can provide invaluable information as you’re planning for the year ahead. For example, their input may show you where time and materials are being wasted, what new opportunities there are, or simply how to do things more efficiently in the year ahead. Encourage your employees to communicate regularly with you by providing several ways to do so (for example, regular team meetings and off sites, One-to-One meetings, quarterly reviews).
- Scan your environment: Take some time this month to evaluate outside factors that may affect your business plans in 2018. This tip is important, and something that is often overlooked. You can learn a lot about your environment from even a quick Google search. Are there any economic, political or competitive factors that have the potential to impact your ability to achieve your goals? What are your competitors doing? Are there any business trends that may impact your business? These are just a few of the many questions you should ask as yourself.
- Be a strong financial manager: If you haven’t already, create an annual budget keeping in mind your goals, the feedback from your team, and the larger business environment. This will help you determine how you can make the largest impact for your customers with the resources you have available. In my experience, I’ve found monthly variance reporting is the best way to ensure that I’m on budget throughout the year.
- Make Time to Do What Makes You Happy: While this time of year can be especially busy, it’s so important to take the time to recharge and refresh yourself. Everyone has a different way of doing so – depending on the season of life that you are in – and that’s okay! Spending some time with your family may invigorate you for the year ahead. Or you may wish to help others in your community, or have some quiet time to yourself.
5.5. Invest in You: Similarly, it’s so important that you’re investing in yourself. Are there any conferences that you’d like to attend in the year ahead? Are there executive education courses that you’d like to take? Are there any trade associations that you should join? Could a networking group such as BNI help you grow your business?
One of my favorite books is The One Thing, by Gary Keller. It’s a great read that I’d highly recommend, as it outlines the simple, yet powerful concept to focus on what matters most in both your personal and work life.
I hope these 5.5 tips help as you plan how you want your business to develop in the year ahead, and I wish you and your business lots of success in the New Year!