If you’re in business, you’re probably starting to think about plans for 2019. It’s Christmas in two days as I write this, and I’ve definitely already been thinking about goals for next year. It’s this time of year that we evaluate the current year and think about how we want to do things differently next year.
What went well?
I like to start on a positive note with my planning. For us, we had a lot of things go really well in 2018, and we definitely want to, at least in some form, do these things again in 2019.
When things that you have planned go well, make notes throughout the year. You may want to repeat an event, a marketing campaign, or a giveaway, but with minor tweaks. These notes that you make along the way as you go are invaluable when you are reviewing your year’s performance. There is no one who can remember every detail to the level that you need to analyze in retrospect. Make great notes and use them!
Think in quarters
It’s difficult to think in terms of the year as a whole, but if you analyze your business’ performance in quarters, it makes things a little easier.
For our business, as in many, the first quarter of the year is generally the slowest time of year. This is normally a good time to get a little fancy with marketing, doing things you just don’t have time to do from a marketing standpoint the rest of the year.
You may decide to take some samples of your products to other local businesses close to yours. You also may decide to ramp up your marketing efforts as well. Take out a radio ad, start a billboard campaign, or offer some giveaways or BOGO deals to get customers in the door.
Introduce Something New
This is by far the best time of the year to introduce something new in your business. Have you been thinking of making a big change? Have you been thinking about a new product that requires some operational changes or new procedures? Now is the time to do this.
Think about it… You have likely just come through the busiest time of the year in your business. You and your team have been at the top of your game – you’ve had to be great to keep up. Now you are about to see a dramatic drop in business, not because you have done anything bad or wrong, but just because that’s the way trends work in retail.
So, performance being at an all-time high, and business being very manageable – that makes the perfect opportunity to learn new things. This is also the best time to figure out how you will do these new things when the business picks up again in the spring.
Another, more obvious perk to starting something new is it is a great way to keep people interested in your business, even during a time when they are naturally spending less. Generally, purchases dramatically drop in general after the Christmas holiday. Keeping potential customers enticed by offering new things is an outstanding way to sustain your sales during the slower weeks following Christmas.
Make a Big Improvement
You are about to have more time available to make improvements in your business. Whether these improvements are personal, like becoming more organized, or team level, like streamlining a process or improving the quality of an item you offer, this is a great time to do it.
For me, I like to pick one big thing that I would like to see change about my business, or that I would like to change personally and work on that.
I know for sure that I would like to be more organized in my time this year. Our business is now over two years old, and we are seeing sales increases which are allowing me to shift my focus slightly from “oh, my goodness, if I don’t work 50 hours on the floor this week we will never be able to afford payroll”, to “I need to work on the floor every day, but I can also budget some time for other things that will leverage our current growth and make us better”.
It is very easy to set really lofty goals in too many different areas and then become too shallow in your focus in each area to see any real or lasting change. One big goal, two at the most, then go at it!
Do it… you’ll be glad!
The hardest part is starting – it really is! I know I dread things like this, but once I start, I start gaining some momentum as I see immediate progress from my efforts. Before I know it, I’m in the home stretch and I wouldn’t even think about stopping because of how much better things are!
Take my advice – start today. Tomorrow, take another step, and another, and another.
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