Happy New Year! Well, not yet, but for your business, it might as well already be 2018.
Why do I say that? Because in my experience, if you wait until January to set your business goals for 2018, you're already too late. You want to be implementing a plan in January, not lagging behind everyone else.
Here are some of the things you'll need to do in order to plan for the New Year. My suggestion is to spend the next few weeks marinating in these questions in order to create your overall plan for 2018.
An exercise many business owners may find helpful is to determine an overall theme for the year. Specifically, a theme that addresses something you know needs to be accomplished in your business. A big project, if you will.
For example, 2014 was my year of delegating, so I began hiring a team and getting organized. The following year was all about a rebrand. The year after that I focused on writing, and 2017 has been all about scaling and systems. The next year will be all about focusing on sales.
All of these are important aspects of running a successful startup business, but it's impossible to do them all at the same time. If anything, trying to do it all at once leads to mediocre results in all areas. That's why taking it one step at a time works best.
This question will also help you determine if you need to acquire anything before January in order to prepare. For example, when I decided 2015 would be the year of the rebrand, I was already contacting my web designer in November of 2014.
Similarly, students who are joining my group coaching program now are making sure to complete the on-demand portion before January so they have a system ready to go by 2018. That way, when I walk them through the program personally in January, it will simply be a matter of tweaking and perfecting.
If you want to have a successful 2018, you'll want to focus on the successes of the previous year. More specifically, you'll want to focus on what worked in your business over the last 12 months.
Is there a product that sold really well? Is there a specific social media channel where you are seeing the most traction? Are there any events that led to more money in your pocket?
The best way to get your answers to this question is to look at the data '“ especially when it comes to money. Fire up your accounting software and see which categories led to the most income. From there, you may want to reverse engineer how those clients or customers came to your business.
For example, launching a group coaching program worked very well for me in 2017. It's an easy package to sell, it's scalable and it's starting to outpace the revenue that comes in from private coaching clients.
In addition to determining what worked, you'll want to consider what didn't work for your business this year. There is no need to waste more time or money on actions that don't get results.
From a tactical perspective, this could look like seeing whether or not you're getting a return on your investment with specific software or tools. Maybe that fancy social media management software isn't worth the money. Or, maybe a specific type of ad isn't working.
On a larger scale, some of your answers may look more personal. For instance, I was on a plane too much in 2017. While I love to travel, I know it got in the way of revenue-generating activities. That's why one of my business goals for 2018 is to not travel for work unless I'm getting paid a lot of money to do so.
As Tony Robbins famously says, we tend to overestimate what we can do in a year and underestimate what we can do in 10. That's why figuring out what you don't need to do in the following year is extremely important.
The way I've personally begun to do this is to focus on the Pareto Principle, which states 80 percent of your results comes from 20 percent of your effort. That means I will be focusing on the projects I know will generate the most revenue in 2018 based on data from 2017. Everything else can wait until the following year.
Note that this isn't the same as figuring out what you need to drop. The tasks or items that you're dropping are not to be picked up again because they aren't working. Instead, this question is more about the goals you can postpone.
By answering these four questions, you'll be able to create a solid strategy and game plan for your business in 2018. Use the holiday downtime to go through these questions and map our your year ahead.
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