Where do you want to be this time next year – both personally and in your business? The first thing to do is to figure out where you are now. That takes sitting down, taking out paper and pen and writing down detailed answers to some questions:
Who am I? One thing I notice about some entrepreneurs is that they form business ideas that are not synergistic with their own personalities. When this happens, calls don’t get answered, projects don’t get completed and customers go away. If there is a disconnect between what your business requires and what your personality delivers, consider either hiring someone (perhaps an intern) to take over the functions you drop. Your other option is to change your business direction and operations to more closely fit your personal habits.
What does your business actually do? When I ask this question of my clients, I like to relate the story of IBM. When computers were new, very few people understood what they could do and selling them was a real problem. Customers wondered why they would ever want a computer when they had typists, file clerks, ditto machines and messengers working for them. So IBM stopped selling computers and started selling solutions to business problems. They took up the slogan “We sell solutions.” So, what does your business REALLY do? Is it your product or service that keeps the customers returning, or is it your customer service? Perhaps your analysis of customer needs is your best product. Reliability and image are a big part of any business, too. So if there is something other than strictly your product or service, that might be your selling point. You may be missing the real function of your business. Describe in detail what your best customers say about your business. If you don’t already know, ask them why they continue to do their business with your company.
These two questions form a good base for planning your next year’s activities.