With the end of the year in sight, you’re probably looking forward to a well-deserved vacation. A new year brings with it the prospect of new beginnings, fresh opportunities, and potential avenues to grow.
But, believe it or not, there’s one mistake you can make right now which can throw off your game as soon as you hit January.
And that’s failing not to plan.
Planning ahead for your business is about more than filling in a calendar (though a content calendar definitely helps!). It’s about setting clear goals, having a sense of direction, and creating a strong action plan.
So how do you do it? Here are three things you can do today to set yourself up for success in the new year.
1. Review What Worked And What Didn’t
You can’t look to the future without learning from your past. What happened in your business over the past year? What were your year’s highlights, and why were they successful? And what could you have done better?
Maybe you organized a wildly successful event in 2017. Or perhaps you executed a flawless marketing campaign for Black Friday. Whatever the highlight of your year was, be meticulous. Pour through everything that contributed to your success, and note it all down. How can you create more of these highlight moments in the new year? Break it down into concrete steps that you can replicate again, and repeat the process for your not so successful endeavours.
For example, one of the highlights of my year was a major event we organized which brought over 500 people. One thing we did well was hitting the right media channels to promote our event, which I’ll definitely do again next year. However, I also hit a few roadblocks this year which taught me what kind of organizations and communities I should NOT work with.
Either way, be thorough. Analyze every part of your business and pick out the successes, no matter how minor, as well as the not so successful parts. Talk them over and analyze them. Those moments are nuggets of golden insight.
2. Survey Your Customers (And Your Non-Customers)
A lot of people cringe when I say this, but I can’t stress the importance of KNOWING your market. And what better way to understand them than to hear from them directly?
Reach out to your customers and ask them for their feedback. How did they hear about you? Why did they choose you? How was their experience with you? And what would they improve?
You should also make a point to speak to people who aren’t (yet!) your customers. Ask why they haven’t shopped or worked with you. What deterred them? What would convince them to choose you? If you’re pivoting your brand and trying to reach a new demographic, then survey people who fit your ideal customer profile. Ask questions about where they get their sources of information, what their pain points are, what they’re looking for in a service provider, etc.
Listen to their feedback and make adjustments to your business. And if you’re nervous about reaching out to people? Don’t be. The new year is a perfect excuse to contact your customers, and a lot of people will appreciate a brand that values their opinions.
3. Set Goals. Review Them. Then Do It Again.
Once you understand what worked the past year, what your customers want, and what you can do better, then it’s time to make an action plan.
Set goals for your business. What do you want to achieve by December next year? What are you going to do differently, and how are you going to implement those changes? By when?
Set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timebound) goals for your brand. And don’t forget to set personal development goals, as well. For example, one of our metrics for Cambio Market next year is to steadily grow our online sales and hit a minimum number of online sales per month. At the same time, we want to drastically improve our knowledge in certain parts of the ecommerce world (like learning more about merchandising, and more about digital marketing) which we’ve woven into our goals for next year.
Put all of this into a strategy document which you review on a quarterly, if not monthly, basis next year. Review, refine, revise, and repeat.
How do you plan for the year ahead? Share your experience with us in the comments!