Have you recovered from the holidays yet?
All of that indulging (and over-indulging) and selling (and shopping) adds up. Sometimes you need a vacation from your vacation. But alas, that is likely not in the cards. Indeed, now that the decorations are put away, the diet begun, and the sales and specials but a memory, it is time to get back to work.
Not long ago in this space I wrote a piece called, “4 ways to still hit your year-end revenue goals.” The idea was that, even though you may have been on the verge of missing your money forecast for the year, there were still some ways to hit your target. The bad news was that I had to include ideas like getting a loan and sharply cutting overhead.
It is obviously preferable to not need an article like that. Let me suggest, therefore, that the smart way to recover from the holidays is to start the year off right by having a focused strategy and planning session.
Your strategy session could be as big as a full-blown, day-long meeting with your staff or as little as an hour by yourself at Starbucks.
Either way, the reason for starting the year with a strategy session is best summed up by Michael Gerber in his famous quote from his book, The E-Myth: “Most small businesses spend too much time working in their business and not enough time working on their business.”
The start of the year, before things get too hectic or too far along, is a great time to work on your business; assess where you are and where you want to be and then figure out how best to get there.
There are three steps to this process:
1. Look at where you have been. The easiest and best way to do this part of the process is by using variations on the 80-20 rule. The 80-20 rule states that 80% of your income comes from 20% of your customers. There is gold in identifying those 20% and talking good care of them.
Beyond that, consider doing these 80-20 analyses as well:
- Which 20% of your products bring in 80% of your sales?
- Which 20% of your web pages get 80% of your pageviews?
2. Look at where you want to go. Based upon your 80-20 reviews, as well as your experience and intuition, the next step is to decide what changes need to be made, where you need to double down on what is working, and which efforts are probably not worth your time.
3. Figure out what resources your need to get there. Knowing where you want to head, the question becomes how do you get there? Will you need more money for marketing? Do you need to cut overhead? Can you form some strategic partnerships?
Finally, be sure to put it all down on paper. Again, it need not be overly lengthy or complicated, but writing down where you have been, where you want to head, and what you need to get there should be very illuminating.
The idea is to create a roadmap for your business. It’s like an airplane pilot; he or she would never just jump in the plane and head south with hopes of finding Florida. Rather, he would create a flight plan – what direction to head, how much fuel is needed, dangers to avoid, and so on.
That is what this review session really is. It is your process for creating a flight plan for getting to where you really want to go this year.
Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success.© Steven D. Strauss.
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