Every entrepreneur should give their business an annual health check. It’s an opportunity to take a step back, to reflect on successes and failures, and to focus anew on the challenges to come. Treat this exercise seriously and it will provide an invaluable spring board for the year ahead. Here’s our 10-step action plan:
- Revisit your mission plan – set a clear vision of where you hope your business is heading over the months and years ahead; is that vision evolving over time as your marketplace and environment change?
- Set targets for the journey – think about the goals you must achieve in order to realise that vision, and how you will do that. Be realistic with your targets, but be ambitious too, and set definitive dates on which you will measure progress.
- Review your customer base – identify your most valuable customers and think about how you can focus on them over the year ahead. Data and analytics tools can help you do this more effectively than ever before.
- Re-evaluate business partnerships – are the relationships your business has put in place still working well for the company? Are there new relationships to target for development?
- Rethink marketing - your marketing plans may need revisiting in the changing economic environment. Can you encourage existing customers to spend more and how will you attract new customers? How could advances in digital marketing benefit your business?
- Set new targets for sales – what is achievable in 2019, compared to years gone by, and how will you get there? Do your and your staff have realistic objectives?
- Write an action plan – this will lay out the specific actions your business will take over the year ahead, including when you’ll take them, in order to work towards its goals and vision.
- Make sure staff are on board – communicate the action plan to all employees and make sure they understand their responsibilities for implementing it. Support staff with training and career development in order to keep them engaged and inspired.
- Seek third-party advice – it may be worth finding an external reviewer to talk through your plans in order to provide fresh perspective and critical appraisal. Do you need a mentor or more formal support such as non-executive directors?
- Consider personal development – think about how your own practices and attitudes may need to change in order for your business to succeed. What skills and experiences are you lacking and how will you remedy that?
Don’t think of these 10 points as New Year’s resolutions – they represent a useful way to take stock at any time of year. But if you can work through these priorities, your business will be better placed to take advantage of new opportunities over the next 12 months. And in a rapidly changing economic environment, all businesses should be thinking in this way.
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