As 2015 is upon us, you have an ideal opportunity to develop goals that will help drive the growth and profitability of your business. These goals can be short or long term and can cover many different aspects of your company. Once these goals are developed, you will be challenged to track and execute these objectives. The road to success may be challenging but if you can push through, the benefits will most likely be worth it.
Here are a few resolutions you should seriously consider:
1. Identify Key Goals and Initiatives
Where do you want your business to be in five years? Or even a year from now? How about where you want it to be tomorrow? It is a simple question, but the route to get there will surely be challenging. Work with your executive team to identify strategic goals that are challenging yet attainable, which motivate you and your team to strive for excellence. It is important to consistently track your progress and hold your team (and yourself) accountable to meeting those goals.
A tip from Purdue University Professor Maria Marshall is to use the S.M.A.R.T model detailed below:
- “Specific. In order to work, objectives need to be concrete (not as abstract as your long-term aims) and highly detailed.
- Measurable. Put a figure or value, such as a dollar amount or percentage, to the objective.
- Action-oriented. Lay out which actions need to be taken by which people, and when.
- Realistic. Make goals challenging, but consider your resources so that you can actually achieve them reasonably.
- Time specific. Set a deadline to keep things on track.”
A Suggestion to Get You Started from RVR: Have a whiteboard session with your executive team early in the year. Spend a half day and do a deep dive into your current business operations. Consider an offsite meeting or a retreat where you and your team can work together to identify where you are, where you want to go and who is responsible for what.
2. Hire Smart
Every business owner has been plagued by a wrong hiring decision. A bad hire is waste of time, money, and other resources that hinder the effectiveness of the operation. A common issue we find when companies hire is that they do not do it more intelligently. There needs to be a process and an understanding of why the hire needs to be made. Before any company starts the hiring process, the company should understand and identify the needs and current situation of the business. Just as management noticed operational inefficiencies, they now need to seek and build a position to best address those same problems. Once the position is determined, the responsibilities and activity levels (basis of the job description) are the next items that need to be constructed. As you begin the interview, challenge candidates to perform an impromptu role playing exercise or a series of “what if” scenarios, this will provide a glimpse of how the candidate would be able to address the situations they may encounter in the office or in the field.
A Suggestion to Get You Started from RVR: We suggest calling references and asking them meaningful questions that get past the fluff. You should ask about their personality traits, character and items specifically related to the position. Also don’t be afraid to use personality assessment tests, conduct comparison salary analysis, and make offers with probationary periods. These tools will give you further insight into the candidate and allow you to make an intelligent hiring choice.
3. Get Involved in the Community
For any size business, being active in the community is important and helps to set a tone for the whole organization. By developing a focus on getting involved and giving back, you are building a stronger team and a competitive advantage. Lindsey Lavine of Enterpeneur.com writes, “Companies that encourage community involvement distinguish themselves from their competitors and see many benefits, including loyal customers and happier employees. According to a May 2013 study by Cone Communications and Echo Research, 82 percent of U.S. consumers consider corporate social responsibility (CSR) when deciding which products or services to buy and where to shop.“ Don’t be afraid to share your involvement on your company’s website and social media pages.
A Suggestion to Get You Started from RVR: Start a monthly event dedicated to a specific community organization. Promote employees to get involved in projects and causes that they feel passionately about. These events will be great for giving back, team building and can also be a useful networking tool.
4. Make Better Financial Decisions
You do not need to be a CFO or a CPA to make smart financial decisions. By having an effective system in place that results in timely financial information and an easy way to view historic and projected trends, you and your financial team can evaluate your books to make wise decisions based on useful information. There needs to be a focus of management to review and understand the financial performance of the business as much as possible. Be strategic in how and how often you analyze the financials; look into developing reporting formats that easily show key information you need to make the right decision.
A Suggestion to Get You Started from RVR: Use a cash budgeting template that allows you to see key information and trends. The simple document is a great supplement to accounting software such as Quickbooks and is great for any size business.
5. Build out the Sales Process and Fill the Pipeline
The Sales Process provides the step-by-step outline of identifying a prospect, determining their needs, and developing a pitch that will secure their business. The structure set forth by this process mirrors the opportunity pipeline and is utilized by sales professionals and management to accurately provide a snapshot of what stage the opportunity (prospect) is in and its likelihood of being won. Each stage of the process has a responsible party and labels what tasks are necessary to be completed before the opportunity is advanced. This tactical approach to advancing the sale is designed to shorten the sale cycle, maximize the time and resource efficiencies of the business, and to strategically forecast the revenue potential of the pipeline. Each stage provides pieces of information for the sales person and the company that is needed to provide a strong proposal (as well as the eventual contract or purchase order and ultimate delivery of the product or service) which addresses the specific needs, challenges and/or pain points of the potential customer. By being able to capture these items in an effective and efficient process, the potential customer will see that you understand their business and hopefully have the solutions to solve their need.
A Suggestion to Get You Started from RVR: Set the expectation early for your sales team. Identify the activity numbers needed to fill the pipeline and hold your sales team accountable. It is important to track, monitor and manage the pipeline on a weekly basis and create open dialogue between sales professionals, sales management, and other team members.