The New Year provides a fresh start and a time to reflect on the changes you want or need to make to improve your lives. Your business is no exception. The start of the year gives you the opportunity to reflect on new goals and new objectives you want your business to reach.
Here are tips to help you bring your business to the next level and succeed in the New Year:
1. Assess the past year.
Before you can move forward, it is always helpful to review the past year and analyze what worked and what did not work for your business.
Did your sales improve? Did you earn more revenues this year compared to previous years? What strategies did you do to improve your bottom line? What were the mistakes you did and need to avoid? Now ask yourself: what could you do better in the New Year?
>> RELATED: Home Business End of the Year Review
2. Look at everything with a fresh new perspective.
The New Year is your chance to clean up your slate and look at the world in new ways. It is so easy to continue doing what you have been doing for years, because of its familiarity and safety. The downside is that you can gradually lose your focus, take things for granted or just assume you know how things are
A fresh perspective can get you out of your comfort zone, kick start your thinking, and help you find better solutions to your problems — especially during hard economic times.
>> RELATED: New Year: Strategic Thinking and Planning
To do this, start by examining the assumptions you’ve made. Get fresh ideas by reading new books or magazines about your business. Get out and talk to other business owners. Check out forums or even social networking sites to see what your target customers need and other business owners are doing. If it will work for you, take time off and visit new places or experience new things. It can help take your mind off your business and infuse you with new ways of looking at things.
3. Set your goals.
Think of what you want to accomplish this year. Make a list of your objectives for your business, and then list the specific activities that can help you achieve the objectives. Keep your objectives as detailed and measurable as possible.
For a blogger who earns primarily from serving ads, an example of a goal and its activities maybe:
Goal: Increase traffic to blog by 20 percent this year.
- Write at least 5 new posts per week, carefully analyzing the traffic statistics of each post to determine the types of posts preferred by the audience
- Participate in blog carnivals at least once a month
- Submit content to social bookmarking sites (even strive to develop content most likely to get to the front page of Digg, for example)
- Connect with at least 3 bloggers per month, whether in terms of commenting on their blogs or requesting for blog roll link exchanges
4. Create your calendar of activities.
It is important to break down your goals and activities into smaller and doable lists of tasks that you can do. To help you keep track of what you want to accomplish for your business, prepare specific timelines for your goals and activities – and stick to it. Whether you are using a planner, iPad or any other scheduling systems, be sure to incorporate your activities into your planning system. Create specific targets for each month – e.g. make a list of what you want to be accomplished by January, February, and so on.
>> RELATED: 12-month Marketing Calendar that Boost Sales
And using whatever system works best for you, set up reminders that can help you keep your eye back to your objectives. Reminders can be in the form of popups in your Outlook calendar, a paper listing the activities that needs to be done pinned to your corkboard, or daily entry into your planner.
5. Do the work!
What good is all the planning if you are not going to implement any of it? Firm up your plans for the first quarter, and then start the work. It feels mighty good to cross off from your list the first thing that you need to do.
Using the blogger as an example, you may want to gear up for the work ahead of you by analyzing your blog statistics. What posts get the most traffic? What posts get the most links? And what posts give you large number of links and clicks from sites such as Digg and other social bookmarking sites?
6. Pump up your networking.
Networking is important for any business. For many things, “who you know” is very important. Having the right contacts can help open doors for you – new opportunities, new customers, new suppliers, new funding sources, new mentors, even someone just to talk to and bounce off ideas. If you’re a home-based business owner, just having a meeting to attend and a chance to interact with other people can bring about a beneficial change of scenery and pace.
Check out professional business networking groups in your area such as BNI http://www.bni.com/ and investigate whether participating in such a network can be beneficial to your business and yourself. Check if using sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook or even MySpace can benefit your business. Or join your local Chamber of Commerce and be active in your local business scene.
7. Try to learn something new this year.
As they say, the only thing constant is change. Hence it is important to learn to adapt to new ways of doing things, including reaching your target market.
Five years ago, you wouldn’t have thought of promoting your business via online videos, but now the wide reach of online video sites such as YouTube has made it a very appealing way of reaching customers. Consider how having a video can help your business grow and get more buzz. Look at how a presence in social networking sites such as MySpace can grow your business. Or whether direct mail can work wonders for your business.
Be on a lookout for ways you can improve your business, even if that means venturing into unknown territories. Study how others are improving their business processes, doing their marketing and promoting, or creating new revenue streams – and see how these new trends can work for your business.
8. Keep your momentum going.
The difficult part of setting goals at the start of the year is keeping the interest and momentum going. Like many New Year resolutions that go down the drain two weeks into the year, it is so easy to lose track of what you need to accomplish. To encourage yourself to keep working on the goals you’ve set up at the start of the year, celebrate after every task you have accomplished. Reward yourself, even if that only means taking a day off away from work (meaning no Blackberries, no checking of emails or making phone calls). It may be helpful to put a visible reminder of why you are doing this business. Having a visual reminder can prop you up on days when you feel you’ve lost interest in the business or when you start questioning why are you doing all this hard work.