It’s hard not to be swept up into the hordes of people who every year come up with a list of resolutions for the New Year. And each year, the topics tend to be much the same. Work out more or start getting some exercise. Get your finances into better shape (save more / spend less). Improve your mental health with more or better sleep and some down time to recharge the batteries. Improve your lifestyle by losing weight, getting out more, or expanding your network. Eat healthier and drink less. Make time for family and friends.
People start off with the best of intentions every year. Yet polls show only 8% of folks stick with their list of resolutions beyond one month. The average length of adhering to resolutions is 3.7 months, according to a Forbes survey.
Owning and running a business is different.
Virtually all businesses kick off the New Year with a set of fresh goals—revenue, profit dollars and margins, customer retention, new client wins, employee satisfaction and turnover.
How about making resolutions for 2024? For some owners, it can be difficult to separate business from personal resolutions. That said, we all should make an effort to think about what can be improved, and then make a list to share and debate with your executive team. Our guess is that your list of resolutions will look different than your annual goals.
Here is a list of possible resolutions for your consideration.
1. A great place to start is with employee engagement. Do you offer enough training and development resources to add to their skills? How good are your recognition and reward programs? (Hint: this is a good time to take a fresh look at it.) Do you have a positive and diverse work environment? Many firms do an annual employee engagement assessment that surveys your folks. This provides data to inform decisions about opportunities for improvement.
2. Everyone has an annual plan. Many have a strategic plan that covers the upcoming 3 years. But what is your long-term plan? It might be worth it to think through where you want the business to be in 5 – 7 years’ time. Can you get there on your own, or can you accelerate progress with partnerships or alliances? Do you have ambitions to expand internationally? Do you have a succession plan in place for key personnel? What is your exit strategy? (Few want to work into their 70s, and fewer still have family members to turn the business over to.) Do you have enough capital, or do you need outside investors?
3. It is still true today that cash is king. Are there any ways to increase your cash flow? Can you improve your receivables processes and speed up orders to cash? How about your exceptions and deductions off invoices? Do you have a list of expense containment measures if sales in the first quarter look softer than your forecast?
4. Are there any opportunities to enhance customer service? What percentage of complaints is resolved on the first contact by the customer? Are there any process or technology changes that could help automate to reduce the number of errors? Have you evaluated adding chat capabilities to speed up the resolution of issues? Maybe consider outsourcing this feature so you can learn more about online chat before you invest in new technologies.
5. Refine your marketing plan. Have you adjusted your strategies and tactics based on the most recent analyses and learnings from the past year? Have you challenged every assumption? How much of a shift have you made to digital spending, where you can more easily measure results and get timely feedback? Pay particular attention to your online marketing investments, including keywords, SEO, content creation and leverage, email marketing, and social media presence.
6. Further enhance your ability to make data driven decisions. Push your sales, marketing, and finance teams to dig deep into the trends, results, and implications on a monthly basis. And don’t just look for things that are not going well. It is just as important to understand what is going better than planned and why. The sooner you know, the faster you can take informed actions for better results.
At Damen Jackson, we are here to be your business partner, your conscience, a member of your extended team. We consider it a privilege to work side by side with our clients on issues big and small. Our experience is that client agency relationships work best when there is a robust and regular dialogue on business and marketing plans. Debate and conversations surrounding implications, the “so what,” and “now what” are the conversations we like the most.
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