It's been a while since I have been to a water park. There is nothing better on a hot summer day. There are all kinds of rides where it feels like you are in control of the directions you are headed, but when you really look at it, you are really just going with the flow of the water. After all, these rides are designed for thrills, but safety is also a concern. It only appears that you in control, but in the end, the water flow controls you. That's the way business can be at times.
Are you big into resolutions? Resolutions are generally life changing goals, that you give yourself permission to not fully achieve. The top three are; Lose Weight, Get Organized, Spend Less & Save More. Based on the website Statistic Brain – 45% of Americans make resolutions and succeed 75% of the time after one week and less than 50% of the time after 6 months. So why do some continue to try to set goals over and over again that they know have less than half a chance to become realized? Tradition. Every day is just another opportunity to succeed, and January 1st is just another day… so what's the big deal?
I tend to look at New Years as a continuation of what we learned and experienced last year, and an evolution into what you propose to achieve in the coming days, months and year. When it comes to what you have learned and experienced, perception is reality. What's even more of a reality is data. I not only use Quickbooks as a financial tool, but as a business planning tool. You can pull reports like this year versus last year to see what you actually sold versus spent.
An example is that I wrote a book last year, and was able to to sell close to 500 in 6 months. That equated to almost 10% of new income. Other services like video and audio production were down significantly. Websites and consulting were up 25% while training and custom web programming were down 25%. Why is this important? It felt like some of those numbers were way different as the year progressed, but the numbers tell a very different story that that perception.
What I have learned over the years is to make plans, but respond to trends. Sometimes those trends are not as obvious while you're in the heat of the battle. Here are three things you can to to get a better grip on riding the waves throughout your next business year:
- Review Last Years Data Trends – Track everything you can. Review your books at least quarterly if not monthly, and compare them to the prior year. Also, if you are in networking groups, track the leads and business you have given others and the leads and closed business they have given you. If you are starting to make money on certain products or services, spend more time marketing them. If your networking group is not giving you as much business as you are giving others, then it's time to find a new one.
- Modify Expectations Based On Those Trends – Keep an eye out for business trends. What are people buying from you? What are they inquiring about? How are people finding you and your business? Through referrals, internet, social networking or smoke signals? Keep track of and review everything and make adjustments based on the data you are seeing. Otherwise you may miss trends that can help you capitalize on the current flow.
- Be Aware Of, And Remain Fluid To Changes – Be prepared to toss away plans and react to the trends and changes as they happen. 365 is a lot of days. Many factors can create new and interesting circumstances. If Facebook went away tomorrow it would change my business considerably. You have to be flexible and willing to adapt to make the most of the opportunities (or even crises) presented to you throughout a years time. A plan consists of goals, but systems can be fluid. Create systems that can flow with change.
When you jump on a water slide, you can stick your arms and feet out and change the flow of where the water is trying to take you. Use your data, knowledge and intuition to help create the path that gives you the best and enjoyable ride.
Did you make any resolutions last year and how did that work out for you? What are your plans for this coming 2014? I wish you much success, health, prosperity and joy for this upcoming year… and would love to hear your insights and thoughts?