Planning your year in business
The New Year is a time for fresh starts, exciting new ventures and the spring cleaning of your business. IT can (and will) play an integral part in your business throughout the year, but to make sure you truly benefit from it, you’ll need to update your strategy.
It’s not always easy to know where to start, so to make your planning for 2017 easier, we’ve put together some key focus points.
1. Review 2016
Before you start looking to the New Year, it’s a good idea to review how the previous one has gone: what worked, what didn’t, what you would do again and what you certainly wouldn’t. All of this tangible data will help you to decide what you need to focus on. Did a particular service prove especially popular in 2016, for instance? It might be worth focusing on this to increase its profitability even further.
For some businesses, change is essential, while for others, it’s very much a case of ‘don’t fix what isn’t broken’. Only you will know what works best for your business. That said, it’s worth getting a review from someone independent who has nothing invested in your company – they might offer a different perspective, one which sheds light on what should and shouldn’t become a goal for you in 2017.
2. Set realistic goals
Now you have a clear picture of how 2016 went, you will want to decide exactly what you want to achieve over the coming year. Perhaps you want to build your brand in 2017. Perhaps you want to increase profits. Perhaps you want to expand further afield. Or perhaps you want to become more efficient.
Whatever your focus for the coming year, IT should be a key concern, since it can impact significantly on each and every area; whether this is by implementing a more enticing site to draw potential customers in, or creating a more efficient and time effective booking system for your business.
In addition, think about your marketing channels for the year; are you reaching out to your customers and clients in the best way? There might be more effective ways to cut through. Perhaps your target audience is young professionals who can be best reached through social media, or perhaps they would respond better to direct mail or print advertising. Taking the time to review who exactly your core customer is, along with what they will respond to, will significantly boost your marketing strategy.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
A successful business relies on equally effective advertising, marketing, IT and coding – but we can’t all be whizzes at them all. If you want to achieve something and you don’t have the skills to do it all yourself, it’s a good idea to look for outside help. And this is exactly why businesses like ours exist – to free up time so you can focus on what you do best, while we do the same to help you to achieve your goals.
4. Gather feedback
As the old adage goes, communication is key, and it’s worth gathering feedback from your team at the start of each year. Whichever rung of the ladder they’re on, they will play a key role in helping you to achieve your business objectives – so it’s important they’re clear on the strategy for the year, and might be able to offer their own insight.
If you’re a one-person business, talk your objectives for the year through with a business acquaintance or partner, or just a friend or relative. While someone outside of your business may not understand the intricacies of the business, they will be able to stand back and take an objective view.
5. Document it
Once you’ve your finalised ideas, write them down so that you can review and update your plans at the end of every business month. You may feel by July that you’ve still got a way to go with your plan, but having it documented will allow you to track your progress and fine-tune your strategy.
Having an easily accessible, visible plan will act as a prompt and constant reminder of what your goals are – and you’re likely to have a better chance of achieving them as a result. Remember, though, that circumstances change, so be flexible in your approach throughout the year.
Good luck with your business plans in 2017.