Pat yourself on the back - you certainly deserve it!
After three years of political turmoil and uncertainty, the UK economy, and correctly the SME sector, has undoubtedly shown a high degree of resilience and entrepreneurialism. I would put this down to the usual rational behaviour that is adopted by us, as business owners. A mentality we learn to adapt for use in our business careers, not relying on others for a decision unless they are trusted advisors. Typically, as accomplished business owners, we take control and become responsible for driving ourselves forward. We adopt the same attitude in our business dealings and switching off from negative influences that go against our vision. We also understand that sense of responsibility and the relative insignificance of events we cannot control - why waste our time on things we cannot control? Our focus is on making sure our businesses are future proof, adopting strategies that will not only strengthen that resilience but also empower opportunity for us moving forward.
I believe the resilience of the whole UK business community, demonstrating strength, conviction and leadership, should be revered and admired. Our efforts to keep the UK economy on track and stop the business community from descending into chaos, as demonstrated by those that reside in positions of political power, are exemplary. We all deserve a pat on the back for our focus and determination.
A culture we need to ignore
The UK has become embroiled in some form of blame culture. You could determine that looking for someone else to blame is common-place and vociferous in our society currently. What an alien concept that is for entrepreneurs and business owners. Perhaps more of our kind, with our ability to take responsibility and lead, are examples of precisely what is required to sit on the green leather-clad benches in Westminster.
So, what is next for us business owners?
While the turmoil and indecision continue, it comes down to those in business to maintain that assertive and focused behaviour. We should look to plan and build our strategies for our business activities in the future. With approximately 12 weeks until the New Year kicks in, we can take more control over our future and build greater resilience and immunity through effective planning and decision-making. To help you carry out that process, I have shared my methods in creating a new-year agenda.
The first few hours on a Monday morning, or some time before the weekend, are usually the quiet periods during the week for me. It gives me time to reflect on the year and start to note down improvements or things I want to change.
Planning the year ahead
Planning is a vital part of growing a successful business and it should be a weekly affair, not when you find time between phone calls or meetings. Diarise planning meetings with your team but, just as importantly, with yourself. Team meetings should be titled and angled towards the new year, so your team fully appreciate the importance and direction of the meeting.
In what areas of the business should your focus be?
Skills and training
Allow your team to bring to the meeting individual requirements they feel 'they may need' to strengthen their position in the company. Giving them the responsibility to think about their role is essential.
Make sure this is on your agenda. Operationally, we are continually looking to make improvements that impact on the bottom line. Cutting out time wastage and investing in systems is key to growth and productivity. It is an essential part of business planning and something that should continuously be on the agenda but especially important when planning for the year ahead.
Sales and marketing
As the life-blood of any business, the opportunity to review how you market and sell your products and services needs to be aligned with the changes in your business and market sector. Changing trends, mediums and sales practices dictate that need. ‘If you keep doing the same things, you will only get the same result’ is an authentic outcome, especially in this critical area of business. From a marketing perspective, look at planned campaigns around your projected activities in the new year. It could be seasonal offerings, new product or service launches or, indeed, a new market you are looking to explore. You can never stand still in sales and marketing, but it is of particular importance when planning for a new year.
A lack of financial clarity in any business can be detrimental to the success of that business. Without transparency, we cannot plan with confidence. With big plans for the year ahead, you and your business need to review your financial processes. Look at how you can have an improved hold on cash flow or, indeed, improve your cash flow. Look at funding requirements or make sure you have the necessary banking facility that will finance the growth you have planned. I cannot stress just how important it is to spend valuable time assessing and improving the financial methods to create clarity within your business.
With so much focus on your business, it is easy to forget about your plans and circumstances. You may have plans to reduce your involvement in the day-to-day running of the company. You may also be looking for others take on some of your work and responsibility. Delegation and reducing your time and need to be involved in the daily grind is key to growing a business and making it a saleable commodity for a potential new owner.
So, don't wait until twelve days before Christmas, start planning your year now. Bring your team into the process; they will have some great ideas, I am sure. It is now a collective opportunity and responsibility for you to build that further resilience needed to not only survive but also thrive in 2020. Day one of 2020 planning starts now!
If you need some help, please do get in touch...