Ah, it’s that time of year again. The time when we all get out a pen and a pad of paper to start jotting down our New Year’s resolutions.
- Sign-up for the gym
- Learn how to play the piano
- Cook more at home; eat out less
- Cease the Starbucks’ runs; start drinking coffee at home
- Spend more time with friends and family
Some of these probably sound familiar. While it’s imperative to have personal goals (and even better to strive to reach them), businesses often fall short when it comes to planning for the new year, and even more importantly, reflecting on the past year.
Not sure of where to start? Here’s a list of questions that should assist in expediting this process:
Do I Have Efficient Systems and Processes in Place?
Systems and processes can make or break a business. Wasting time on tasks that could be automated or completed in half the amount of time is, at the end of the day, stupid. Yep, we said it. Take a look at the list of things you do regularly in a given day. Is there anyway to systematize these things?
It’s understandable why you might want to avoid this one. For some, it may open up a deep, dark hole of unpleasant thoughts. But, the only way to avoid these same headaches in 2016, is to figure out the culprit.
Here’s a one very simple example of a client’s struggle:
The client is a very large, successful real estate developer. At showings and broker previews, they would collect business cards – sometimes hundreds in a week. Someone on their team (who had far greater capabilities than data entry) would then have to spend hours entering the names into a spreadsheet and categorizing them into the email database.
So, what did we do to solve this problem?
We set up lists within their email marketing system (prospective buyers, other agents, etc…). Whenever they hosted a broker preview or conducted a showing, visitors were greeted with a beverage and an iPad (that already had the appropriate form on the screen) and were asked to enter their information there.
Here is how we came to this solution:
- The assistant was paid $25 / hourly and was spending 8 hours a week to manage their previous archaic system. That’s $200 a week, which equated to $10,400 annually!
- We recommended the client purchase five iPads so that visitors didn’t have to wait in line to enter their information. That cost broke down to approximately $1,500.
- At the end of the day, this client is now saving $8,900 annually, not to mention the assistant now has an extra eight hours a week to actually contribute to the business versus doing busy work.
Shifting a process or creating a new system isn’t always a complex task. It may be something as simple as implementing a new tool or consolidating two systems. Think small before becoming overwhelmed by complex big.
Do I Have the Right People or Vendors in Place to Support My Overall Goals and Objectives?
This is another big one. Often, as business owners or top-level management, we take on too much. “It would be easier to just do this myself.” Or, “I don’t have the money to hire someone to do this.” This type of thought process, while tempting, can backfire.
Let’s cut to the point: time is money. I’ll share with you a personal story.
When I started my first business, I did it all – designing, copywriting, web builds (not to mention accounting and marketing). Unless you’re funded or start a business with a good amount of capital, this is just what you do. But I soon realized that I was pushing off sales calls because I was too busy designing a brochure to meet a deadline.
So, I was essentially sacrificing new business to complete a project that could have easily been executed by an individual who could 1) probably complete it in a shorter period of time than me and 2) focus 100% on that task. It was at this time that I realized I couldn’t do everything.
In these situations, you really have to pick your battles. Here’s the easiest way to look at it:
- Am I innately skilled to complete this task?
- Do I have the time to complete this task without sacrificing other higher priority tasks?
- Is this something that I know would be completed more effectively by someone who is specialized?
Be honest with yourself. At the end of the day, more is not always better. If you plan on growing and scaling your business, you’ll at some point have to bring on others to help, so why not start testing the waters now?
What Did I Spend Money On This Past Year That Paid Off (Or Didn’t)?
People seem to always want to avoid this one. Perhaps it’s because there was no system in place to track results, or money was spent without a plan of what it would work to accomplish. Obviously, to track success, you need to establish metrics and goals up front.
“What was the objective when we spent $2,000 a month on PPC?”
“We sent out a monthly email newsletter, but what was our response rate?”
These are questions that should come with an answer, not an, “Ugh. I don’t know.” reply.
If you can’t answer these sorts of questions, it’s easy to get started for the year to come.
Start a spreadsheet, fill-in what systems, tools and services you plan to pay for. Take a hard look at the list and figure out which items are providing value and which items are not. This doesn’t always mean cutting something out. It might just mean allocating money from one bucket (that isn’t valuable) to another one that is.
Something to keep on your radar – some strategies take time to produce results, so don’t cut the cord before giving something ample time to produce.
This list could very easily go on and on, but we don’t want to overwhelm you. We are firm believers in quality over quantity, so start small. Once you have a solid foundation, you can look at other areas of your business. That’s the beauty of operating a business or managing a brand; it’s a never-ending journey that constantly shifts and requires refinement.
If you’re feeling stuck or have any questions, we’re here to help!
PS — Best of luck with your personal New Year’s resolutions too! We’re feeling particularly excited about improving our yoga practice in 2016 🙂