As 2019 rapidly draws towards its conclusion, we still await the outcome of the political turmoil. Uncertainty still prevails, and business owners and the wider populous are looking for clarification on what the future holds for us all in the UK.
However, while the uncertainty feels a little like we are trapped in a ‘Half-Nelson’ hold, should we stop planning our scaling of new and profitable heights in 2020? Of course, we shouldn’t.
As professionals, we have a job to do to ensure our well-being and that of our businesses. Our plans for growth shouldn’t be interrupted by what is happening elsewhere.
The most important aspect of our planning is to have a strategy in the first place. Without one, we sell ourselves short and put risk to what we can achieve in the forthcoming year. So, in planning our success in 2020, where should we start?
In most businesses, there are six key areas we should focus on. These are operations, finances, marketing, sales, staff/skills and innovation. Each area impacts the others and improvements in one area can make a significant difference in creating marginal gains for the business as a whole.
The key focus and what to consider
Operations – Every business adopts systems and processes to carry out its daily functions. Making operational improvements could be new software or indeed cutting out unnecessary red tape. Explore your current operational procedures to identify where you can make the necessary improvements..
Finances – Cash flow and forecasting are two essential areas for focus. Without cash in the business, it can stifle growth. If you don’t forecast accurately, you will have no clear vision or path towards your 2020 goals. Look at methods and tools that provide ongoing financial clarity.
Marketing – The fast-moving digital age is most certainly upon us. Changing trends, ways of using platforms and making sure your plans for marketing align with your audience are the important factors. If you don’t have a marketing strategy in place, now is the time to write one.
Sales – The sales environment is changing dramatically. New methods of connecting and influencing your customers are dictating pathways to growth. Look at introducing new methods into your sales activity. Empower your team to come up with new sales initiatives.
Staff/Skills – The current climate has seen a lack of investment in skills generally. Building the strength of the skills in the business and the ability of your team to perform better is essential. Try putting that question to your staff; what skills do they require to improve their performance?
Innovation – It's complacent to ignore innovation. Look at improving your current customer proposition, seeking added value and to leverage higher spend per customer.
Can simple business planning create significant gains?
My answer to that question is it certainly can. Helping business leaders to find clarity and direction in each of these areas has been my role for the past seven years. I have witnessed how incremental and sometimes quite significant gains in each area of the business have had a hugely positive impact on profits.
I would advise every business owner in the county to spend a couple of days in 2019 looking at these six areas of the business. Make sure you involve your staff, which in turn will ensure their buy-in to your plans for growth and success in 2020.