The Entrepreneurs beginning of the year checklist



Let’s get this year going the right way!


The “to do” list is never ending for busy entrepreneurs. But the New Year is a great time to stop and reset for what’s to come. As you would make a New Year’s resolution for your personal life, you should also make one for your business.


So, what are YOUR goals this year? Let’s start by writing your thoughts down, then you can start checking your goals off the list in the new year!

Establish what’s working and what isn’t


  1. Set new financial goals

  2. Take a peek at competitors

  3. Plan to connect

  4. Investigate new ways to get work done

Establish what’s working and what isn’t

Taking a hard look in the mirror and realizing what is working for your business and what isn’t may be one of the hardest tasks to complete. That is why you should do this before setting new goals.


You have to know where you’re at before you can make adjustments to move forward.


So what is working for you? Do you have enough customers? Are you retaining them? Do you have adequate staff? Are you losing too much money on discounts and giveaways? Did you start selling a new product/service that is not performing as you hoped? Are you happy?


Take a close look at each part of the business separately, from the finances to operations to marketing. Analyze where you are doing well and where improvements can be made. Make a list of each of these. Start developing your goals based on these lists.


Set new financial goals

Setting goals is something always mentioned in these lists, and while it may seem old hat there's a good reason that it keeps on coming up. You want to accomplish great things, and you want to do better than last year. You also want to hold yourself to these goals and make sure they're attainable, to prevent falling short of these aspirations and getting disappointed. So be sure to put these goals and objectives down in writing and make sure you'll fulfill them this year.


Set realistic goals.


Don't just say "I want a million bucks and also a pony this year." As a business owner, the goals you have for your enterprise will often be of a financial nature. After all, you are growing your startup. These goals may vary depending on how long your business has been around, how much it's grown, and what you are out to achieve in the long run, Are you keen on keeping the business lean and mean? Or do you plan to expand it and eventually become a corporate behemoth?


You can set organizational goals with the assistance of team productivity and goal-setting systems. These have had a proven record, their effectiveness has been established. Such as the trusty: SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) framework, or Intel's OKR (Objectives and Key Results).


You can have each area of your organization list these down. Finance, sales, marketing, product development, HR, the IT department, and everyone else should be involved and have a sense of what they're aiming for as the New Year gets rolling.


Various tools and project management processes can also help with these. It's more than just setting the goals, it's also concretely acting on them. You and your organization have to move towards implementing these, which involves setting up supporting infrastructure necessary to their attainment.



3. Take a peek at competitors

What are your rivals and peers up to? How did they fare during the previous years, and what are they planning for 2020? What did they do right? Likewise, what are they getting wrong? You don’t want to look like you are a copy-cat by following in their footsteps, even if this happens inadvertently. At the same time, their successful strategies can be emulated and improved upon.


Competitors' mistakes and failures can serve as lessons on what to avoid.


You and your organization don't exist in a vacuum. It pays to be aware of what other parties are doing, because you are part of a broader ecosystem in which many parties co-exist. As a business owner, you need to know what's going on in your industry or sector, the changes rippling across it, and any adjustments or reactions that might be necessary on your end. It's better if you are proactive about this, gathering intel about the scene, rather than passively waiting for it to affect you and then reacting after the fact. Take the initiative so you won't be caught off guard.


For example, if you are producing and selling clothing internationally, you should look beyond just wholesale and retail clothing and fashion trends. You need to gauge the price of your raw materials and your sources or providers. Look into the length of the seasons and climate conditions of your target areas. If a region is getting warmer, if their winters are getting shorter, then you might want to adjust the thickness of your product lines or change the items being distributed based on your findings. Economic, political and regulatory factors also can't be neglected - as European companies dealing with the UK know all too well due to BREXIT.



4. Plan to connect

Both within your organization and beyond it. So within your team or organization, it helps to connect all the components or departments with each other. At the end of the year, and at the beginning of a new one, you can gather everyone and update them on where the organization is and where it's heading. Other finer details can also be sussed out, and matters that affect multiple departments can also be addressed. By doing this, your organization will improve its cohesiveness.

A connected workplace is an efficient one, because like with any relationship, the key to success is communication.


Creating connections is also vital beyond your business. Networking with potential business partners and collaborators, or clients and customers these are invaluable aspects of entrepreneurship. The same goes for connecting with customer bases and audiences. Moreover, when it comes to finding resources - whether it's suppliers or providers of services like website maintenance experts - you'll also have to find and make connections.


So put yourself out there. Polish that LinkedIn account, make sure your social media game is on point. Practice your public speaking skills and have your virtual assistant prepare some neat presentations. And make sure you have a set of classy business cards.



5. Investigate new ways to get work done

In these times the key to success isn't necessarily in working harder. It's in working smarter. People are already working hard enough as it is, so the key improving your business and your workplace lies in solutions to ease the grind, reduce tedious and repetitive tasks while maximizing meaningful outputs.


These solutions include software and tools to automate busywork. These will reduce the time spent on updating spreadsheets, filling out time sheets, and crunching numbers.


Outsourcing to virtual assistants can also prove beneficial. You can delegate tasks such as coding your website, backend technical support, and more.


Likewise, remote work options should definitely be looked into. Letting full-time employees work from home can save up on expenses for your facilities while reducing their stress levels. Augmenting your workforce with virtual assistants to complete projects can similarly keep staffing costs down without any decrease in skills and expertise.



Takeaway

The New Year brings with it opportunities to do things in new and different ways for the better. So if you have ever thought of taking your business in a new direction, then now’s your chance!


Don’t be stuck in old patterns. You don’t have to do things in the same way you’ve been doing them. If your process is not working, or if you want something that works more effectively, then consider trying something else.


Just be sure that your goal is not just some pie-in-the-sky flight of fancy. There has to be a way you can concretely implement your intent, so that it will graduate from an abstract thought to an actually attainable objective.




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