2019 ‘to-do’ lists for business owners

22 March 2019 | Columns

Getting your business off to a great start in a new year requires planning, critical thinking and dedication to executing your strategy.

We asked Forbes Coaches Council members what every business owner or leader should do in 2019 to set themselves up for a successful year. Here’s what they had to say.

1. Document and map out your goals

Focusing on what you want to achieve, documenting it and then setting up an annual, quarterly and monthly plan to achieve those goals is a great way to get your year started. It allows you to know what you are working towards for the entire year and what is most important, while also providing a way to track progress throughout the year. Share your plan with others too for accountability. (Monica Thakrar, MTI)

2. Define your potential ‘big wins’

While the top of the year is an inherent time to start fresh, that doesn’t mean your goals will be set for you. Take time to define the big wins for your organisation in the new year. This could be the key hiring of staff, landing a contract worth a certain amount or setting the desired culture within your team - it doesn’t matter! What matters is setting your sights on wins from the beginning. (Joey Price, Jumpstart: HR)

3. Ask your staff about their needs and priorities

It is important to ask your internal customers - your staff and yourself - what they need and what is a priority for them for the year. Our priorities shift over time, so it is important to check in with yourself and your team to find out what the priority is and how it aligns to the organisational goals. (Manpreet Dhillon, Veza)

4. Focus on improving the customer experience

It’s no secret that customers expect more every day, yet businesses still don’t invest in the customer experience. There are so many ways to exceed expectations and build loyalty with customers, but leaders are often not provided the time or focus to do that. Create a customer-first strategy for your organisation, including rewarding leaders for delivering exceptional experiences in 2019 and beyond. (Jeannie Walters, 360Connext)

5. Understand the trends likely to impact your business

It is important to do an evaluation of your market and tangential markets to determine likely changes during the year that you will need to be prepared for. One valuable approach is scenario planning, where an organisation looks at what is likely and at early warning signs to alert you that the scenario is in play. Base plans on most likely scenarios. (Maureen Metcalf, Metcalf & Associates Inc.)

6. Set your human resources strategy

Prioritise your HR needs. Identify your competitive advantage and how to measure it. Decide on your desired culture. Create the tactical piece of the plan. Then, decide how you will implement it: How will you push the buttons for compensation, benefits, work-life balance, performance and recognition, and development and career opportunities to impact each of your priorities? (Ed Krow, Turbo Execs LLC)

7. Be ready to respond and adapt to change

It is no secret that the business environment faces a high degree of change in our post-digital world. Applying systems-thinking to address the intense shifts in the economy and demographics, the global pressures and quickly maturing automation, will help business owners face complexity head-on and maximise competitive advantage. (Adena Johnston, CCI Consulting)

8. Give yourself time to think

Most leaders have so many demands on their time that it’s easy to fall into a pattern of reactive behaviour like attending meetings, replying to emails and returning calls. Great leaders recognise the importance of carving out time to think, whether it’s to develop a new strategy for customer acquisition or to reflect on what’s going on with a dysfunctional team. It’s not easy, but it pays dividends. (Jill Hauwiller, Leadership Refinery)

9. Take stock of what’s in front of you

The new year often draws people to look for new bright and shiny objects. However, I recommend that leaders take a step back and assess what is already in front of them. What are you taking for granted? What resources and people are underutilised? What areas have you been avoiding working on because they feel like too big a challenge? Your greatest opportunities are usually right in front of you. (Tonya Echols, Thrive Coaching Solutions)

10. Think about increasing revenues

One successful analysis is to determine who your clients are. Do you provide products or services to students, technical professionals, executives or folks with specific careers? Track the types of products or services you sell and who in your client base you are not targeting. You can easily broaden your online marketing strategy and increase your income base. (Barbara Adams, CareerPro Global, Inc) -manexconsulting.com