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The beginning of a new year is a great time for businesses to take stock of the past 12 months and plan for the future. Here are five things every business should do to set themselves up for a successful year ahead.
Reconnect with your why
“If we want to feel an undying passion for our work, if we want to feel we are contributing to something bigger than ourselves, we all need to know our Why.”
That’s Simon Sinek, bestselling author and TED Talks guy. If the end of last year was so busy that at times you almost forgot why you do what you do, taking some time amid this fresh start to reconnect with your “Why” can go a long way to recharging your motivation and exciting your customers.
You could try applying Sinek’s Golden Circle framework to better understand how your business communicates with its customers. The circle consists of three rings: Why at the centre, How in the middle and What around the outside. The Why represents your purpose or belief, the How represents your unique approach for achieving your purpose, and the What represents the products or services you deliver.
According to Sinek, most companies make the mistake of communicating from the outside-in, starting with What they do and How they do it. But the most successful brands talk about their Why first. This creates a powerful emotional connection with their audience, inspiring them to buy into the brand’s purpose and ultimately becoming loyal customers.
Look back to move forward
You’ve reminded yourself why you get up in the morning. Now it’s time to take a quick look back at the past year as you step into the new one. This will help you figure out what worked and what didn’t, and how to make any necessary changes.
One of the best ways to learn from the previous year is to set up a meeting with your business partners or employees. (If you’re a sole trader, make a formal time to meet with yourself!) This can help you get a better understanding of what went well and what didn’t. Ask questions such as:
- What were your most successful products or services?
- What processes worked well?
- What were your major goals last year?
- Did you achieve them? Or did some go “AWOL”?
- What areas need improvement?
- What were the biggest challenges you faced – and do you expect them again this year?
And gather feedback from customers and clients who interacted with your business in the last year. Ask them what they liked most and least about their experience, as well as any suggestions they may have for improvement. A customer survey offering a lucky winner a gift voucher for your store can be a great way to gain this kind of intel.
Tip: Square for Retail Plus gives you access to powerful reporting to help you see last year’s performance and profit across different products and inform your strategy for the coming year.
Get the most from SMART goals
From there, use the information you’ve gathered to create an action plan for the new year. Brainstorm ways to improve existing processes, develop new strategies and implement tools that will help achieve results.
Make sure the goals you set are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely) so that everyone has clear expectations on what needs to be done. Here is an example to help you apply SMART goals in your own business:
Specific: We aim to add a second food truck before the end of the year.
Measurable: We will aim to spend $30,000 on a good quality second-hand truck, which would mean setting aside $2,500 per month to buy it outright; based on our existing truck we estimate $6,000 profit per month from the new location.
Achievable: But we have approved finance for $30,000 over five years; this will mean lower monthly payments than buying the truck outright.
Relevant: Doubling our business capacity with a second truck will allow us to scale, which we need to remain profitable.
Timely: We’ll meet with the bank manager in February, find a quality used truck by June and make any necessary improvements before September, in time for the festival season.
Tip: Creating smaller milestones within the overall goal is important for the Achievable part of the acronym, so set monthly deadlines throughout the year that will keep you and your team on track.
Simplify your technology and tools
Make 2023 the year you streamline your business tech. One of the main benefits of Square is that it’s designed to integrate many of the different apps and tools used by businesses of all sizes.
Square provides a user-friendly dashboard, where you can easily view sales data, customer information and inventory levels in real-time. Square’s integrated customer engagement tools such as a loyalty program, email marketing and customer feedback can help you attract new customers and keep your loyal followers coming back for those tailored offers you’ve created just for them.
It’s not only retailers who can gain an edge with Square’s set of integrated tools.
Restaurants can link their POS directly with the Kitchen Display System and benefit from auto86ing, straight fire categories, coursing, table management timers and more. With everything connected, there’s no need for reconciling disconnected databases and paperwork.
And salon owners can rely on Square Appointments for 24/7 online booking, so there’s less need for phone calls or messaging back and forth with customers. Individual employee accounts make it easy for team members to manage their own timetables.
Balance work and play
There are 365 days in a year. It’s important to go into the new year with a plan so you’ll feel good about your work–play balance right up to peak season when another December rolls around. (We say work–play balance rather than work–life balance because it’s unhelpful to look at work as bad.)
In your work, aim to create space for meaningful, deep work that moves the dial on your business goals and nourishes your sense of purpose. Australian business and creativity coach Lisa Murray says there is power in becoming “unbusy”.
She says, “I start with these questions: If I was going to be unbusy right now, what would I change today? If my business has a message for me about being unbusy, what is it saying? What is ‘busy’ stopping me from creating with ease? And then I make the changes that I become aware of!”
A practical tip to make those changes happen is to set clear boundaries and stick to them. For example, designate specific times during the day or week when you will not check emails or take calls, and make sure that your team and your family know and respect those boundaries.
Outside of work, make plenty of time for what The Now Habit author Neil Fiore calls “guilt-free play”, which he says “is based on the seeming paradox that in order to do productive, high-quality work on important projects, you must stop putting off living and engage wholeheartedly in recreation and relaxation”.
So give yourself all the time you desire to see friends and family, follow your hobbies and look after yourself with exercise, yoga or mediation. Your business will thank you for it.
Remember that, in some final wise words from executive coach Roberta Matuson, “Work isn’t going anywhere. The greatest wealth you can build is discretionary time. Think about this and then say yes to doing something you love!”
Well said, Roberta. Now that you’re armed with these five tips, we hope you can forge ahead with having an awesome, balanced and successful year.
This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute professional advice. For specific advice applicable to your business, please contact a professional.