The end of the year is here. Many businesses go into a little bit of a seasonal slowdown, and even if you aren’t one of those business, it is essential that you take some of the dwindling light of 2017 to prep for 2018. It is crucial that you start off with a full and clear vision of what you want to happen in the next 12 months. Here are 10 things you must do to prep your startup or agency for success in 2018:
- Time Travel To December 31, 2018: What does your business (and your life) look like on that day? I’ve created a planning structure, called Fully Forward Future™, to help you map out your vision and goals. (It is part of my 2018 goals to launch FFF as part of a business building process in 2018 – stay tuned.) But fundamentally, you need to time travel a bit and think about what you life will look like at the end of December next year. What are the milestones you want to hit financially, what are the customer milestones, what does your company look like in terms of staff and process, and so on. In all of the major compartments of your life, Personal & Family, Finances, Company Growth & Profits, Staff & Capabilities, Body & Health, what are the milestones that will make you satisfied on that day. Write them down. Now you have your goals for 2018 – go get them.
- This Day, This Month, This Quarter: You have your 2018 goals. Plan out your first two weeks of January using a This Day, This Month, This Quarter mindset. What are you doing on this day to reach your goals. How does that impact what you are doing this month? How does that impact this quarter? (BTW, look for TripleThis™ as part of the planning structure coming out in 2018.) But when you plan out your January, make sure that you are touching all of your 2018 goals, and that you can keep the connection between right now and your success.
- Zenith & Nadir: What were your highest highs (zenith) and lowest lows (nadir) of 2017? Take some time to think about (and write down or record) what you did to create the zenith what you did to create the nadir. Think about ways to do more for the former and less of the latter.
- Sensitive Staffing: Your startup has an amazing team. But capabilities and fit aren’t distributed equally across your staff. You have superstars and you have seats that are occupied by the wrong butt. Take some time to identify which seats you need to change. If you can save an employee that you value, find a new role for them and support that employee feverishly to make it work. Or make the decision to transition the employee out of the company, and regardless of your feelings about them, work feverishly to make their landing as soft as you can.
- Profitability/Revenue Firing Squad: Depending on your business, you may value profits or revenue highly. Regardless of which metric is the priority, force-rank all of your current clients by that metric. Take the bottom outliers (lowest revenue or profit) and figure out why they are outliers. Did you sell at the wrong price? Did you scope poorly? Are they overly demanding? But get to the reasons why they aren’t generating the financial metrics that you want and start the process for renegotiation or help them find a new provider that fits them better.
- Marketing Reflection: What worked well for you in the last 12 months? What was your single biggest channel? Dive deep and figure out how to grow that channel. I promise that you aren’t already at the efficient frontier of that channel. If you need help to scale your success, get it. Hire a new agency, get a consultant, whatever, but don’t let your bandwidth get in the way of executing on the marketing spend. (I can probably help you find a new agency or marketing provider – contact me).
- Whale Fishing: While businesses thrive on repeatable, dependable revenue, you should spend a little time whale fishing. Come up with two targets that are out of your comfort zone and put together a plan to land them as a client. This is counter-intuitive in some respects, and of course, landing the whale would be a wonderful opportunity to grow fast. But the real win here is forcing yourself to think about your business in a different context. You will come up with ways to describe and deploy your business that will bear fruit in other ways in 2018. But make real plans to land a real whale.
- Take It Off Your Plate: Thinking operationally, what do you suck at? Take 30 minutes right now to take that off your plate. Your suckiness at this is holding your company back. Get out of the way. There is someone in your organization or your network who is much better at this than you are. Give it to them – let them own it (even if you have to pay them a little more or as a contractor). This will allow you to focus on your own brand of brilliance – and that will help you drive your business.
- Land and Expand: Which of your customers aren’t using all of your services? Call them today to set up meetings to discuss what else you can do for them. This is dialing for dollars, but with a quality relationship as the dial tone. Start a discussion today around how else your can add value to your customers.
- Say Thank You and Ask How You Can Get Better: Reach out to all of your employees, your best customers, your most trusted vendors, your advisors and say “Thank You” for being on the journey with you in 2017. This will likely end up with some small talk, and hopefully some smiles. Before the call ends, simply ask the question “How can I get better at working with you?” Most answers will be “you are doing great!”, and in the cases of clients “drop your prices – ha!” or vendors “pay us more – ha!”. But try to elicit a true response from those closest to you. It may not be fun to hear, but there will be someone who tells you exactly how to work with them better. Listen carefully and apply what they say – I can guarantee that there are others who feel exactly the same way but didn’t have the words to tell you.
There – you’ve got 10 things to do this week – get going! And if you want help growing (or starting!) your agency, check out #TRIPLETHIS Agency Edition – a proven business growth framework to help you make more revenue, more profit & more happy!