The start of the decade has been action packed already, with a lot happening both around the world and at home it can be difficult to set aside the time to reflect on what you achieved in 2019 and what your goals are for 2020 and the next few years.
Starting your business is often an adrenaline filled adventure, you’re stoked when you make your first product, your first sale, your first repeat customer. Often a first year or two in business you can spend all your time running around in a mad panic rather than taking a step back from your business and assessing your path forward. January is a great time to set in motion some new goals and strategies to carry you forward in a positive way.
Below are some ways to help you take a practical perspective in reviewing your year ahead.
1. Be realistic with the goals you set
Time and again, a business owner can set a goal that appears to be attainable, but is actually aiming a bit too high. The repercussions of this is you end up disappointed or despondent when you don’t achieve it, leading to hesitation to set future goals.
Use the SMART goals tool (below) and consider your strengths, skills, knowledge and resources when adding a timeframe to your plans.
2. Time Blocking
A great example of time blocking I saw once was at a networking meeting where two colleagues were arranging to meet each other outside of the networking event in the coming weeks. One gentleman retrieved his diary from his laptop bag, opened it up to the week in question and offered one or two days as a starting point. The second gentleman suggested a time on a particular day, to which the first replied and said; “Sorry mate, I’m off on my run then so I’ve blocked the morning out.”
As simple (and as selfish) as it sounds, blocking out periods in your schedule guards your time from overloading yourself with work – which we all know happens far too often. We’re all guilty of it… there’s a project or a deadline that you just HAVE to help a customer with and all of a sudden, you’re still on the job late at night or you’re frantically working on your books at midnight to catch up on things.
Make the effort and block out time for yourself, either for that run, a massage, or even time to review business decisions or catch up on those overdue projects.
3. Know yourself better
In small businesses, culture is especially important and stress levels can easily flow down to staff when you’re panicking about your own workload or cashflow situation.
Further to our time blocking tip, it’s important to take a bit of me-time on a regular basis. Daily meditation or journaling can help slow down the pace, calming the mind ready for those decisions that you know you’ll need to make quick-smart as soon as you get on the job.
Doing so many things at once will often lead to overwhelm, burnout, and making poor decisions – let alone what it does to your mental health. When you’re overloaded, you tend to make decisions based on a reaction to the situation rather than being proactive about what should be done next.
Focus on your own strengths and outsource the tasks you find challenging or just don’t get time for out to people who may or may not be outside of your team (are your books Ontrack?)
5. Be Specific
When you do allocate work to others, be specific about your expectations in handing the task/s over.
Is the person capable? Do they have the skills or knowledge to complete the task? Are you communicating what you want the other person to understand? Has the other person understood the instruction? Is there a clear timeframe?
Make sure everyone is on the same page before you move onto the next one in the book.
As your business grows, you may start to notice files, boxes, or just general receipts and piles of paperwork starting to stack up in the corners of your office. Utilise systems such as Xero, Hubdoc, Box and the like to turn your office paperless. This helps to declutter the mind so you can actually focus on one thing at a time, and get on with doing the task at hand.
7. Look for opportunities
Once you have everything under control, your books are in order, your filing system is on point, your staff are ticking away with what they need to do and are efficient at it, what next?
Always look for new opportunities to grow, as a business and as a person. Reach out to new audiences, get involved with local networking groups that compliment or enhance the work you do or fields you want to advance in. NZ is a small country that the majority of business happens through word of mouth, so get out there and start spreading the word about your business!
Regardless of what year you’re in or where you’re at, make sure to focus on activities that will help you reach your goals. Starting with the tips we’ve given above will ensure you are mentally and emotionally ready to tackle the next big challenge in your business.
Happy New Year folks!