Okay, I am just going to say it, if you did not plan for 2017 in 2016, you are already behind. I know you are excited for the New Year. So am I! I, like so many others had a tumultuous 2016. If 2016 was a movie, it would be called The Good, The Bad and the Really Ugly! Despite all the drama that was 2016, in October I was busy planning for 2017. Getting things in place to hit the ground running. There is still more to do, mind you, but I have a plan. So should you.
If you are waiting for January vision parties and high-fives from your virtual friends, your 2017 may not be as great as you hope it to be. So if you have your plan, great! If not, call me. We need to talk. Now, here are a few things that you need to focus on to make your 2017 plan work and have a great start to 2017.
Connect with Collaboration Partners
I am going to talk more about this in future posts, but collaboration is going to be imperative for your small business to survive. Collaborations can take on many forms, but for today, just know that collaboration means that everyone wins. This is not the type of partnership where one person is strong and the other is not, it is where both are equally strong and are able to enlarge each other’s territory. Why is it important?
Let me give you an example. I recall a particular good collaboration between two flooring companies. They were distinctly different companies and each had multiple locations. They came together to jointly advertise their business. They ran multiple TV and Radio ads for about the course of a year. It worked well. It increased business for both companies. More importantly, the collaboration allowed them to achieve something that they may not have been able to do alone. That is true collaboration. Two (or more) strong companies who are equally strong on their own, who came together to be even stronger.
Listen to your customers
I know! You do this already, but this is more than simply asking our customers which colors they prefer. That is important, but really understanding your clients to the core. Have you heard of Big Data? More importantly, do you know how to use it?
There is a lot of information to be had and known. You have to consider what you need to know. For example, if you are a personal trainer. You know that the 1st of the year when everyone promises to lose weight. What you may not know is how people make those decisions. Meaning, do they see something online? Do they go with well-known brands? Do they find a fad diet on the internet? How those decisions are made are just as important as the fact that they are made.
In addition, you can trace patterns and your client’s behaviors to understand where things are going in the future. Or, you can be ahead of the curve and create something new. The point is that you have to be in touch with your customers and the trends that you customers like the ones you have are moving towards. If you wait too late, this time next year those same customers may not be yours.
Explore funding options
In 2017 there are a wide variety of financial options out there. Even the not so new and hip Crowdfunding option has changed substantially. Therefore, worrying about whether or not you can get a bank loan should not stop you from doing what you need to do. From factoring to venture capitalists your options are limitless. However, you cannot just expect money to fall out of the sky. And you also cannot expect to get something for nothing. Meaning, that your business needs to have some level of stability. The risk being that if you get a loan, you need to pay it back. If you are successful with your crowdfunding venture, you need to be able to fulfil your prizes. If you get an investor, you need to be able to show them you can make the business work.
These are decisions that you can make on the fly, they need to be carefully planned out and prepared for. So now is the time to explore and find out what you need.
Shahara Wright is an experienced and highly sought after business law attorney and business strategist. She is the author of From Entrepreneur to CEO and host of the CEO Collaboration Circle. Shahara founded The CEO Effect, LLC to work with small business owners who want to implement strategy to build capacity.