As in our own lives, the start of a new year energizes us as business owners to sit down and plan out our goals for the coming year. We consider what sales figures we hope to achieve, the many directions we can take our products, and how to tap into any unsaturated markets that we can find. I've compiled a couple of things below that I think are important to keep in mind while strategizing for 2011.
1. Self evaluations can be very useful and never hurt.
Often we encourage our employees or managerial staff to conduct evaluations on team performance or client satisfaction. However, we often overlook evaluating ourselves as business owners and proprietors. I have noticed this for myself over the past year. I believe building in a work flow that will provide a system of checks and balances not only on my team, but also myself, will help me make better informed and consequently smarter business decisions in the coming year. While it's never good to have too many people trying to make one decision, one individual with many people's insight and wisdom can never hurt. Restructuring decision making schemes and organizational workflows are something that can improve the overall efficiency of any business, and more importantly its effectiveness at providing quality products and services
2. Set metrics that you can use to reliably track both successes and failures.
Whether you use a system of quarterly reviews, or weekly debriefs, there is a lot to be said about metrics. That being said, the best metrics are the most unobtrusive, transparent, and seamless to integrate into daily business. Many companies use time tracking software for logging their employees work, but that doesn't always guarantee success. In fact, large companies like Apple and Google have been known to have a more project oriented perspective on getting things done, and favor strict deadlines rather than hourly logs. At the end of the day, how things get done matters less for these companies than the end result, and to a certain degree this is a good policy. Metrics that can be used to take notes on minutes as well as scalable content management systems that allow for better cooperation amongst teams are a must in today's world. All businesses, no matter how big, should have a consistent manner in which they can gauge the efficacy of their actions and decisions.
3. Desire for growth must be matched with market limitations and innovation.
The companies that fail, or begin to earn significantly less profit are the ones that don't understand market limitations. Unfortunately, this happens to the best of us. It's only natural, after all, when something seems to be going well we expect it to continue. We go on our way and fail to notice warning signs that the market and or customer demands are changing, we fail to adapt to new economic conditions. In other words, sometimes we're not scalable, and we're not dynamic. A solid company needs to have contingency plans. Furthermore, no company should neglect to have a division that focuses on market research and understanding the evolving consumer market. Whether that person is the single proprietor, or a team of individuals within a large corporation, having people who can keep their heads up when so much is going on around them enables companies to steer themselves in the right direction all while seeing the bigger picture.
4. 2011 is going to be the year that advertising must evolve.
One thing I believe that badly needs even greater attention given to it, is new methods of marketing and advertising that are not overly pushy but actually work in a very overly saturated market. Some studies have shown that the average individual is exposed to 3,000 advertisements per day. We hardly remember any of them. Advertising is pivotal to any business, and those who use more effective methods of advertising are often the industry leaders regardless of the quality of their products or services. Many companies are working on coming up with new advertising platforms and new methods to try, but I can't help but think a major overhaul is needed. The people to figure out how to create advertising 2.0 are going to be the true winners of 2011.
Michael Costigan speaks to teens and adults about effective communication so that they may make better informed decisions together. Read more about Michael here.