Last one to leave please DON’T turn out the lights!
I’ve been living in New Zealand now for 21 years & yet I am still surprised how businesses start to close down in the week leading up to Christmas & don’t really come back on fully until the end of January – sometimes even mid-way through February.
It’s important to take a break, so don’t think I’m not advocating for that, but what if you could take a break & still set yourself up, ahead of your competitors, for the New Year?
I have worked with over 500 businesses in my 11 years of coaching & have run businesses for over 25 years with several hundred staff.
What I have seen is that towards the end of the year, even in a normal year, we are getting tired & all we are thinking about is the upcoming holiday.
We’re also caught up in the pre-Christmas business & we often cannot think clearly about what is best for the business long-term. We’re just desperate to get on holiday.
However, by doing just a few small things before the end of the year & setting time aside in the New Year for working on the business can literally put you strides ahead of the competition.
And particularly this year. I know it’s been a tough year & I know we’re all even more exhausted, emotionally & physically than in a normal year. Plus we’re missing the chance to escape to our usual holidays. Even if your business has done well, and many have, it’s been a challenge to adjust continuously to the ever changing world in a global pandemic. Let’s face it who isn’t hanging out to go the bach or the camp ground?
My passionate plea, is please just do these 3 things between now & coming back in the New Year & I guarantee that your holiday will be more enjoyable but more importantly you’ll come back into the business refreshed & ready to get started whilst the competitors are still taking it easy. These small things can lead to a massive leap ahead for your business.
1. Do a review of the year
Take some time in December or early January and with your leadership team, review the year that has been & what opportunities have opened up because of it. Ask yourselves:
· What went well
· What didn’t go so well?
· What challenges did we face? And what issues has this created?
· What opportunities have come out of it?
You can do this on your own or you can have it facilitated by a coach, just be sure to be open & honest about how this year has been so that you can start to learn from it.
This way, when you do go on your holiday, you will have this information ready for your brain to start processing when it is more relaxed.
You don’t need to be planning at this stage – just setting the stage for planning in the New Year.
2. Read a good business book whilst on holiday
We often don’t find the time in the last couple of months to read & yet we know how important it is for us as Business Owners.
So, when you’re planning your holiday, pick a good book to take with you & just like a gratitude journal, plan to read for at least 10—15 minutes per day. You’ll be surprised how much you get through.
My favourites would be ‘Get a Grip by Gino Wickman & Mike Paton or Patrick Lencioni’s ‘The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive’. Both are written as a business fable which makes them an easy read and both have very important messages for business owners & leaders.
3. Plan Clarity Breaks
Even when we are on holiday, we can find it difficult to have some alone time. Make sure you plan for some of this time. They are essential for leaders to get re-focused.
A Clarity Break is a set-aside time where you have the intention to just think. During this dedicated thinking time, you get clear on what’s important, what needs to be done and what’s holding you back. It can be just 15 minutes each day or it can be 1 hour per week. Choose what works for you – but commit to them.
To take a Clarity break, just do the following:
· Book a time & stick to it
· Get yourself away from all distractions (family & pets included)
· Go to a place where you feel relaxed (for me it’s out in nature)
· Grab a pen & journal
· Sit in silence & reflect
· Write whatever comes to your mind. (If it doesn’t come immediately just sit with it until it does)
Especially in these times of change, your Clarity Breaks should not only contain reflection on what is directly in front of you but also how to plan for the months ahead.
Think forward to what may happen at the end of the current crisis if you’re in a business where people want what you have but they can’t have it right now.
There will be a time of pent-up demand coming that may create a surge for your business and you’ll want to be clear on what and who you need to meet that demand.
Or maybe it really is time to think about changing the business or pivoting. If so, what might that look like? Is it a true pivot oft the business entirely or just a mini-pivot in terms of the way you communicate & interact with your customers?
Regular Clarity Breaks will help you ‘unfreeze’ and find the energy and focus needed to step up and do what needs to be done.
Into the New Year – what can you do to stay ahead?
In the New Year, once you are back from your holiday, when businesses can traditionally be quiet, don’t waste the opportunity.
Even if you don’t want to come back to work full-time, use the knowledge & the ideas that you now have from your review of the year to start putting in place some things that you might not usually have the time for.
Here are 7 key things you could be doing in this quiet time:
1. Start Business Planning for next year
Business planning is best done with the whole team however you can start to prepare even if you can’t get the team together.
Start asking some simple questions to start thinking about what’s important to you & what you would like to achieve.
· What are your goals for the year?
· What new areas / opportunities would you like to explore?
· If everything was exactly as you wished it to be (both professionally & personally) – what does it look like?
Paint a picture in your mind of what it looks like & start writing it down.
Once the team is back on board I would recommend engaging with a professional Business Coach to help you take all of these ideas & put a plan & operating system around it so that you can execute to achieve the success you have in mind.
2. Review your complete customer journey / experience
Has what you deliver changed this year? If so, how has that changed the customer experience or customer journey? Or perhaps your customers have actually changed as well?
Get yourself a large whiteboard or piece of paper & start thinking about everything along that journey for the customer. Where are the touchpoints? Do you have everything you need to provide the ultimate journey for the customer?
What new things do you need to develop to improve the experience?
If you can, speak to couple of your top customers & ask them for their input. What do they think you do well & what would they like to see improved? I personally recommend speaking to them face to face if possible. Given we’re probably still in holiday ode, maybe you can suggest they come over for some wine & cheese or beer & bbq?
3. Take a look at ways to improve your systems & processes
Reviewing the year will have given you opportunity to think about what’s working & what’s not for going forward. And reviewing your customer journey / experience will highlight areas where you may need to review the systems & processes that will support this journey.
With this in mind, look at your top systems & processes & think about whether or not they are working or what could be improved? Also, are they clear for everyone in the organisation?
If you can’t find the time to work on them, at least identify them as an issue so that you can start to work on them throughout the year as they become important.
4. Review your office / factory / workspace set up
Now that you have the customer journey & the systems & processes understood, does your workplace still work for you?
Take the time to sit in your workplace & think about the way that you work.
Has it changed over the past year? Is the environment still working for you?
Is there any new software or equipment that would make things easier for you? Can you justify the spend because it will save you or your team precious time?
For each potential purchase, do a mini business case. It’s never about the cost of an item – it’s about what it will do for you.
If a piece of software at $50 per month can save you even one hour per month then it is worth it.
If a machine can offer a better customer experience or take away a pain from an employee then is it worth it?
If you can free up more of your time, what could you do with that extra time? Does that activity have a greater value than the cost of the software or tool or outsourced activity? Or does it just make you feel a whole lot better because you are free to do the things you love. This is sometimes worth its weight in gold!
And sometimes it costs nothing – just moving things around to have better flow can make a significant difference. If there is a team member that you are always talking to – could they be closer to you? If there’s a piece of equipment you use regularly, can you move closer to it?
And don’t forget to declutter too. Is there stuff that is now redundant because of the change in your business. If so, get it onto TradeMe & start making your work environment a better place to be.
5. Review your marketing approach
Has your product or service offering changed? Has this changed the type of customer that you now work with?
Marketing can be very simple. Knowing your target audience (as niched as possible) & knowing what they want & how you can deliver that is the start.
Then you want to think about where they ‘hang out’ & how you can get to them.
So if anything in your business has changed, does it mean you need to review how & where you talk to your customers.
Even if nothing has changed with your product, service or customer, has the way they expect to communicate with you changed?
Before lockdown I would hardly ever do leadership team meetings online. It was always in person. Now, we have zoom meetings with leadership teams who may be all over NZ. I still prefer in person meetings but for some of my customers this has really worked for them, so I too have to adjust.
We also know that the trend for online shopping has shifted significantly over & beyond the lockdown periods. People who would never have considered online shopping are starting to embrace it.
So how does this change ‘where’ your customers are hanging out.
Think about how you will now communicate with them – from a delivery & a marketing perspective. What can you do differently to ensure that they still find you?
6. Start testing those new product / service ideas
In your review & Clarity Breaks you came up with some great ideas to move the business forward.
Now it’s time to test those ideas before you spend thousands of dollars or hours implementing something that no-one wants.
Talk to your best customers or people who meet your target audience requirements & ask them what they think. If possible don’t develop anything until you have spoken to a few people about it. And don’t ask family & friends – you need objective views not unwavering support at this stage.
If you can’t talk to people without having something to show them then do think about the minimum viable product that you can produce to test. Get the feedback & then adjust as necessary.
And always ask if this new product or service truly fits in with your business Niche. Can you continue to be passionate about it?
7. Build assets for the long term
Have you been thinking about doing some videos? Or maybe you have been meaning to do some blogs? Perhaps you have been thinking about doing a rebrand?
Now could be the time. Take the extra time that you have to do things that will set you up for taking the business forward tin the future.
· Start writing some blogs as they come to you
· Start filming some videos
· Start building your podcast series
But please only do these if they’re what you love & are great at. If not, then get the ideas down onto paper & then when you are back in the office, delegate it to the right person to do it. And if you don’t have the people in-house then do look to outsource it.
I know that the Kiwi mentality is to do it all ourselves, however my passionate plea is to ask for help. We got through this year through working together & asking for help. It’s the only way to truly grow, so don’t be afraid to delegate or ask for help.
Look for experts that can help you. Outsource the work that you’re not so good at or don’t enjoy. Free yourself up to do the things that you truly are great at & love – this will deliver the maximum results for you.
And don’t work too hard - just work smarter to get what you want from your business.
Debra Chantry-Taylor, PGDipBA
As well as being a seasoned business owner, Debra Chantry-Taylor is a Professional EOS implementer® and a qualified leadership coach who excels in the arena of entrepreneurial business.
Debra is committed to seeing entrepreneurs and leaders live their ‘best life’ through creating a better business which optimally serves them. Through her wealth of knowledge and practical real life experience, Debra enables business owners and their leadership teams to work together collaboratively to excel in terms of performance; living their vision and values in a positive culture; making a significant difference in their field, team and wider communities; all whilst being compensated fairly and having the freedom of time to pursue other passions.
Having worked with over 500 business owners and their teams, and having led teams of hundreds herself, Debra is recognised as a leading business coach in New Zealand and has received accolades to celebrate her achievements.
With the hands-on practical business acumen that comes from running her own businesses, she is well versed in the highs of business growth and the lows of ventures that fail. Whilst the tough times have been …well, tough, the insights have given her the grit and determination to excel further, enabling her to share valuable lessons with those clients with whom she partners.
As a Brit, turned Aussie, turned Kiwi and an avid traveller, Debra has global experience working with clients in Europe, the United Kingdom, United States of America, Australia and New Zealand.
Debra shares her experience with her clients openly and honestly. Her unique mix of academic qualifications (MBA and leadership coaching), business experience and natural curiosity means she loves to challenge the status quo. She also loves to celebrate success with Champagne.
Outside of work, Debra enjoys a beautifully balanced life with her husband Steve, their two mini schnauzers and their three cats. She loves nothing more than being out in nature and exploring all the wonders of the world, capturing these through her love of photography. Debra is also mad about sports cars and all things fast! Although a little rusty these days, she has won trophies in go karting and tennis.
She has a tattoo that reminds her that whilst sometimes a mentor we are always a student.
Want to learn more about how to get ‘what you want’ out of your business & your life, then head across to www.businesstraction.co.nz. Sign up to the newsletter & get regular updates, tips & tools that will help you to run a better business for a better life.