This blog originally published in Printing Impressions.
The new year has arrived and it’s a great time to re-charge, re-organize, re-focus and re-commit to making your business as successful as it can be. Many business leaders take this time to review the dog-eared pages of their business plan and make any changes and updates necessary based on lessons learned. Others may place more focus on the financial reports and create their game plan based the numbers – good or not so good. How and what you choose will most likely be influenced by what stage your business is in. It may also be influenced by the economy in your trading area. Conducting a review that is appropriate for your business can yield successful results and can certainly set the stage for the New Year.
An area of importance that bears attention and is sometimes overlooked is how did you do? Well, how did you do this past year? You can view this from many angles. You can focus on your personal financial results, the continued prosperity of the business, or the level of satisfaction that you got from leading your business. If you created clear and objective goals for the year, you could begin by evaluating your performance relative to those goals and create a scorecard with the results.
After speaking with a few business leaders about this, it became apparent that there were other areas to consider in this review process. As we dig deeper, we identify areas that you either work at or that you oversee others doing. Some are personal development issues while others are basic blocking and tackling business processes. They would include (in no certain order):
Communication skills: How well do you manage email and/or does it manage you, how are your presentations to clients or employee groups, and how was your one on one communication to your team and clients.
Leadership Skills: What are your strengths as a leader and perhaps more importantly, what do you need to work on for your continued development. It’s important to know where you are on the scale and what additional skills can help you, and your business. You’ll need to fill in the gaps this year in order to ensure continued growth of the business.
Financial Management: Purchasing procedures and negotiations, timely client billing and collecting and managing cash are always critical elements of success. How did you do last year and are there areas that need improvement?
Customer Facing: Estimating, customer service, planning and scheduling. Do you have the right people working on this and was it effective for your business and your customers? Is it, or could it be a differentiator for your business? You may be involved or actually responsible for doing it based on the size of the company and if so, how is it working?
Technology: Technology is a key driver to the business. Are you actively engaged in how your current and future technology can influence how you do business and what services you can affordable provide to your clients? How comfortable are you with all of this and do you have the resources (either in-house or fee-based) to help you thrive through technology?
Marketing & Business Development: How many new contacts did you make this past year through your networking and referral process? How have you positioned the business to capture the hearts and souls of your best business opportunities? Maybe it’s time to brush off the marketing plan and get it working for you and for the betterment of the business.
Sales: If you sell, have you worked on your sales processand taken the steps to making it more scalable and repeatable so that you could be more effective? If your role is to lead the others who sell for you, be clear in your reinforcement of ongoing prospecting and business development expectations. Be certain that all those involved with direct client contact are clear as to the message you want to be sending.
Professional development: Here are some of the biggies! Take a candid look at what you’ve done this past year to make yourself a better business leader. This can take on many shapes from simply reading and learning, to enrolling and attending conferences and training sessions, to participating in a peer group. Many will refer back to mentors that have helped them throughout their business career as a form of feedback. Where are you getting your new ideas?
Personal development: Same thing here. What have you done this past year to make yourself a better person? How is your health and fitness, friendships and family? With a strong core or foundation, we can take on many more challenges in our lives. What typically happens though is that we put ourselves at the end of the list for any training and development. Maybe it’s time to re-shuffle the deck on this one.
Helping others/Mentoring: To get, you have to give. How did you give back this past year? Who did you take under your wing and coach along the way to their success? Are you contributing to the common wisdom of your networking groups as much as you’re taking out of the conversations? To be sustainable, things need to be in balance. Look in the mirror; ask your friends and colleagues what they think about your contributions. This is indeed an area that can be very rewarding.
OK, that’s the hard part. The easy part now is to grade yourself in these areas to really see how you did. Give yourself a grade from 1-5 (1= needs help, 5= all-star) in each area. Better yet, ask a trusted colleague, your team or your spouse to grade you as well. Treat this as sort of a 360 review – lite version. The results can be illuminating as well as frustrating. Either way you’ll have a good perspective of how you did last year and better yet, a solid framework and outline for building your development goals for the new year. Do it this week, have fun with it and learn from it. Continued success.
Mike Philie can help validate what’s working and what may need to change in your business. Changing the trajectory of a business is difficult to do while simultaneously operating the core competencies. Mike provides strategy and insight to owners and CEOs in the Graphic Communications Industry by providing direct and realistic assessments, not being afraid to voice the unpopular opinion and helping leaders navigate change through a common sense and practical approach. Learn more at www.philiegroup.com, LinkedIn or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.