While setting goals for a new year does generate a lot of interest, some level of commitment is usually required in order to yield the best results. Fortunately, the beginning of each year is a good time to make a renewed commitment for growth.
Best-Selling author Ken Blanchard had a great point when he made the distinction between a passing interest in pursuing a goal and outright commitment. "When you’re interested in doing something, you do it only when it is convenient. When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses – only results."
A recent survey of small business owners with less than 100 employees by Hiscox Ltd. indicated there were several major mistakes consistently made by those companies; higher than anticipated costs, hiring the wrong people, inadequate sales, poor marketing, and cash flow. The results of the Hiscox survey can be categorized into three simple areas; EMPLOYEES, REVENUES, and EXPENSES.
If you had to choose three areas of concentration and commitment for your business in the coming year, in other words, your tri-fecta of focus, which ones would you choose? Most experts would agree that a very strong case can be made for those three groups or categories.
Employees are the lifeblood of most organizations. A tighter focus or even a re-focus on your staff for the coming year should be a good thing. Granted, even though your focus could be monetary in nature, let’s save that for the discussion on expenses. From a more intangible perspective, you should strive to keep your staff looking to the future, encouraging them to be happy.
Consider coming alongside several key employees and asking them how the company can help them in their day to day lives. Would flex-time be a benefit for employee parents to utilize? Could you start a wellness program that could help employees get on a path to better fitness? Can you determine if some of your employees are under-utilized?
As we have stated in the past, nothing happens until a sale is made. In order for your company to grow to higher heights in 2016, increasing revenue will be a huge opportunity for achieving that growth. Consider your revenue streams and think about ways your company can develop alternative revenue streams. If you are a service organization, think about expansion into other areas of service or determining what would be involved in expanding into some form of product sales as a natural extension. Can you create a new market this year, or take on the competition in order to gain a greater share of the market? Maybe this is the time of year to go back to basics and ask the question of what customer problem your product or service solves.
Establish a goal of reaching out more to your existing customers in 2016. Consider having more of those one-on-one conversations, in order to understand where they are coming from and where they are going, so you can go with them. Increasing your sales with them should be top of mind.
As the owner or manager of a growing concern, expenses are probably already an issue for you. Even so, there are many different ways to look at them. For example, payroll usually represents a significant amount of company expenses. Concentrating on payroll expenses can be very helpful to most firms. Wages, salaries, bonuses and benefits should be reviewed and analyzed. If your company pays an hourly wage, see if there are ways you can effectively reduce overtime. Instead of an annual bonus with no strings attached, consider a profit sharing plan. Many times those plans can incentivize people to be more efficient, saving you money in the process and giving your staff an opportunity to make more money. The more the company makes, the more the employees make.
Also, as your business grows, consider outsourcing as a means of managing some of your costs. Outsourcing does not have to be more expensive than hiring someone full time, if you can manage the contractor.
Author and Motivational Speaker Zig Ziglar said it best, “It was character that got us out of bed, commitment that moved us into action, and discipline that enabled us to follow through.” Review your successes from 2015 and celebrate them. They can help bring added clarity for the goals you are establishing in 2016. Make it a year of commitment to achieve the tri-fecta of goals; reducing expenses, increasing revenue and helping your employees.
Dan Arens is an Indiana-based business growth advisor.