Much like people, if your small business doesn’t prepare for success, it won’t find it. Just because it’s December doesn’t mean it’s not too late to prep for a great 2017!
Here are five steps for small business success in 2017, three before you pop champagne on New Year’s Eve and two before the last sunset of the summer.
Run an audit on 2016
How can you move forward if you don’t know where you are? Did you double your revenue and need to grow your team or was your bottom line in the red until Q4? Did you develop a more inclusive team with a variety of needed personality and culture or are you in need of a reorg?
While these conversations are difficult to have, meeting with your stakeholders and evaluating where your small business is right now will prove to be beneficial to step two. The goal here is to be honest about what happened in 2016, versus picking the top numbers and celebrating them. By giving yourself the opportunity to have a clear understanding of what happened in 2016 (the good, bad and the ugly), you’ll have a better path to success in 2017.
Start 2017 with a vision
Just because you’re a small business doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think big. Whether the visionary is you, a partner or another stakeholder, this person is a key player in every small business.
Here are a few ways how you can become or identify the visionary at your company. Have them outline a few big initiatives to focus your year on (wrapped up together nicely in a vision statement) and move to step three.
Break your vision
Down. Break your vision down, into S.M.A.R.T. goals. If you’re unfamiliar with the S.M.A.R.T. goal strategy, read this first.
The basic idea of S.M.A.R.T. goals are that they are:
- Specific (simple, sensible, significant)
- Measurable (meaningful, motivating)
- Achievable (agreed, attainable)
- Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based)
- Time bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive)
As you break down your vision, can you say that every big movement can be measured by the above? If not, then it probably isn’t going to be something you can easily track and achieve over the next year. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing, but you should be aware that goals that cannot be mapped out like this often do not get achieved.
The best way to move through this stage is to identify stakeholders on your team who can reverse engineer your vision statement so that your team can work every day to achieve your 2017 vision. Now for a brief break from the steps!
*HAPPY NEW YEAR!* (cheers)
Walk the walk
Welcome to 2017! It might sound a little obvious, but actually going through with your plan is what will make your 2017 successful. This requires you and your team to work on the day-to-day execution of your S.M.A.R.T. goals while keeping your vision in mind. Ideally, you would have planned a kick-off meeting in 2016 for after the new year to keep yourself on track. From there, you would be able to break out several small tasks to get things going and really blow 2017 away.
But we’re not done yet! The last step has proven to be the Achilles heel of businesses big and small.
Evaluate your progress
Checking in on your goals, your progress, and environmental changes are keys to success. With the metrics you’ve set through S.M.A.R.T. goal setting, you have everything you need to check in whenever necessary. Ideally, you’ll want to plan for progress check-in’s, be it monthly, quarterly or bi-annually. Remember, larger goals will take time (don’t assign yourself all of your goals in Q1!), but should be monitored in case you need to course correct.
2017, much like each year before it, will have a list of unknowns, in your life, in your business, or in the country you do business in. It’s important to evaluate and reevaluate your progress so that you can adapt your plan. Failing to adapt to changes outside of your control could line you up behind these businesses.
Your small business’ success in 2017 falls on the shoulders of everyone who works with you. Auditing your current year, creating a vision, developing a breakdown into S.M.A.R.T goals, actually going through with your plan, and checking in on your progress holds your small business accountable.
Whether or not you accomplish all of your goals, next December when you begin to audit your 2017 and prep for 2018, you’ll be in a much better position to succeed again.
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