Hard to believe, but the end of 2016 is a little more than three months away. Take time off for Thanksgiving and the Winter holidays, and you’d better be working on your end of year goals NOW, or it will be too late.
But in addition to just meeting this year’s goals, you need to be thinking ahead and preparing yourself and your team for the future. Yes, preparing for next year, but also for the next three or even five years. What you do now will pay dividends in the future.
Here are 5 things you MUST DO before the end of 2016 to finish strong:
- Skip the trees, Check out the forest. In the day-to-day operations of any company, it’s easy to be consumed by shorter-term goals and accomplishments that drive business. So it’s important now to step back and take a long view. Over the past three years, how have you been doing? Are your rates of increase slowing down? Have you gotten new competitors? Qualitative research, such as in-depth interviews, could help you understand how your clients are changing how they purchase and use your products. Syndicated research can help you evaluate how you’re doing against your industry. Taking a longer perspective will help you take corrective action in advance of a downturn.
- Stop re-inventing the wheel. How efficient is your operation? Are you taking advantage of all the latest and greatest advances in management thinking? Again, it’s easy to get complacent about processes that work “just okay.” Or to live with those small inefficiencies that take time and resources, but just never enough to demand attention. Now is the time to look for processes that work better.
- Answer those nagging questions. Every business seems to have them. Those questions that always come up during planning and budgeting that no one has an answer to (but everyone has an opinion about!). Stop guessing. Answer those questions. Do the research, get the facts, and put those questions to bed, once and for all. If you need to do some survey research to get information to answer those questions, now is a perfect time. You have plenty of time to conduct the research properly and use the results in your planning for next year.
- Look ahead. Just as you looked into the past, now you need to look into your future. And, no, you don’t need a crystal ball. Industry analysts and futurists often predict industry changes long before you see them. What do they see for your company and industry? Are your customers’ needs changing? Are there emerging competitors getting ready to steal your customers? You can also use syndicated research to help you see into the future. Thinking about what might happen is just as important as understanding what has
- Learn from your mistakes. As long as you’re taking a good hard look at your business past and present, this is also the time to admit that maybe – just maybe – things didn’t always go the way you wanted. Now is a great opportunity to look at those under-performances and to figure out what went wrong and why they happened. And most importantly, what you’re going to do to prevent them from happening again. You don’t have to spend a fortune on consultants – sometimes just talking to your team and your customers will help.
By conducting a thorough business review now, you can easily address any potential weaknesses that might keep you from meeting your goals this year. And, as a bonus, you’ll be well positioned to create exceptional plans for 2017. Stop fighting fires for a few days and give yourself the luxury of perspective. Your business results will benefit!
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