Business Resolutions for 2016

In what has become an annual tradition on these pages, I offer up some resolutions, not for me to follow (I don’t do resolutions), but for you to consider as you work to make 2016 your best year yet.

For this new year, resolve to:

  1. Make sure you know where you’re going! I’ve talked a lot in the past year about how important planning is. Make sure you have your plans in place, and if not, get them ready fast!  Be clear about what you want from your business in the coming year.  Do you want to expand geographic locations? Is revenue growth or profitability key?  Only by putting those goals down can you keep yourself on task.
  1. Be sure your plans match your goals! You need to put together the roadmap that will get you to your goals. If you want more customers, what steps will you take to get them?  Do you need to invest in marketing programs, more sales people or a stronger web presence?  If profitability is a priority, what will you do to improve it?  How’s your pricing?  Competitive? Too low? Too high?  Sometimes a few tweaks can make all the difference.
  1. Take action! This is such a key to attaining your goals.  Things don’t “just happen.”  Be sure you’re in charge of your own performance, whether you’re the CEO, the head of sales, a customer service person or a part time clerk in the mailroom. Make things happen.  Execute your part of the plan and pay attention to the quality of that execution.  Quality and commitment matter.
  1. Measure your results and adjust as needed! Be sure you have metrics in place to help you determine if you’re on the right path to meeting your goals. They don’t have to be complicated, but they need to exist– and be used. For example, if the goal is customer growth, make sure you’re counting the new customers, but also keep an eye on existing customers and make sure they’re not leaving.  Otherwise you’re replacing, not growing.  If you’re not getting the results you expected from what you’re doing, these benchmarks will let you know—make sure you pay attention and not admit defeat, but rather, read them and don’t be afraid to make adjustments.
  1. Make sure your team knows their stuff! Just because you can type an email doesn’t mean you can write compelling marketing copy.  Even though you are good with people, that’s no indicator you know how manage a sales cycle and seal the deal. Planning, messaging, selling, keeping customers happy are all skills requiring experience, talent and hard, often specialized work.  Bright people think they can do anything, but it’s really easy to get in over your head.  In those cases either the company settles for mediocrity, or the business suffers—sometimes both.
  1. Stay the course! The number one reason for a plan’s failure (other than a poor plan) is not giving your efforts enough time to determine if the plan is working—or not. A handful of emails, a dozen phone calls, a single three day promotion doesn’t give the market time to respond.  You need to make sure you have a large enough sample size to get a meaningful feel for results.  Stick to your plan until the metrics tell you it isn’t working.  You need to give the world time to hear what you have to say.
  1. Get involved in something bigger than your business! Of course most of you reading this are in business to make money. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore the community in which you exist.  Look around and see where and how you, your team and your company can be good citizens.  Opportunities abound to help with volunteer time or cash donations, anything that may better others’ lives and keep your employees grounded in the community.  Every little bit helps, and in my experience, staffers who are involved in community activities are happier, and more productive at work.

As usual I can’t guarantee that by following these resolutions you’ll have a killer year, but I am confident they’ll put you in a better position to make 2016 all you could wish for. Best of luck!

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