5 Ideas to Increase Success in 2021
We can all agree 2020 was a challenging year. And its effects will be felt on our lives for a very long time, from how we do business, to where we work, and how in interact. We've changed quickly in ways we only imagined would happen in the distant future.
Now what? Your business was running great before. But with the rule changes, how do you not only stay afloat, but turn it around and thrive again?
Change can be frightening, even scary. Sometimes, it feels like you are walking off a cliff, with little control of your direction. But what if you altered your perspective a little. Change can be exciting, and energizing. It can help break old patterns and help you create new solutions.
If change is already happening in your business, why not get ahead of it? When you are reacting to change, you treat the symptoms. The better approach is to embrace change and use it to treat the core problem. This way, you use change to work for you, instead of reacting to it.
One straightforward way to use change and disruption productively is literally to plan for change. In other words - change your plan. By accepting that things are going to change consistently, we can agree that a yearly plan isn't flexible enough. Add a quarterly strategic plan review and update process. This will give you space to pause, assess the current business and external forces, then adjust to address ongoing and future issues and opportunities that you identify throughout the year.
As part of the process, ask yourself these questions.
What would disrupt your business enough to change everything?
How can you be on the leading edge of that change?
How can the business be relevant and profitable five or even 10 years from now?
Prioritize Customer Needs
I think we can all agree, the only constant this past year has been the consistent change around us. From disrupted supply chains to social distancing requirements, how we have done business in the past has been upended. No business model has been immune to these changes.
Customer's needs, problems and priorities have been in a constant state of change as they struggle to deal with the new reality. The real challenge then, is how to keep customers happy and engaged when the ground is constantly moving around both of you?
A simple strategy is to engage with your customers to identify opportunities. The strategy could be as simple as asking a probing question at the end of every client interaction. It could also be a more formal process like surveys or quarterly client advisory groups.
More than ever, staying in tune with the customers' needs and the problems you can solve is imperative. It is the gateway for future growth and innovation.
Work Smarter, Not Harder
For so long, we've been taught that hard work is the key to success. We've been told tales and taught to admire the hard working individual who pressed on and made the impossible happen through sheer grit. Sure, success demands focus, determination and resilience. But they aren't the only keys to success. Since the rise of intellectual capital and technology in the 1980s, the ability to be successful is less about our ability to work hard and more about finding the right people and tools to be more efficient.
Working smarter is about leveraging the people you have and helping them work more efficiently. Remove the hurdles and bottlenecks that hinder them, and they will accomplish more. Sometimes, that will require you to implement new technologies to speed the work. Look for places where automation can save time and money. Nowadays, there are many smaller technology solutions that can target specific needs and address them quickly and inexpensively. Implementing both means, you can produce more income with your existing resources. And expenses can be offset by growth opportunities and organizational efficiencies.
Plan for Profit
One of the most misleading entrepreneurial and inspirational quotes is “Follow your passion and the money will follow.” If only things were that simple. Passion for what you do gives you fire in your belly and can bring a sense of contribution. At the end of the day, though, passion doesn’t pay the bills; profit does.
Shift your mindset towards profit and other key metrics in your business, and a magical change in how you spend your day occurs. You start focusing on initiatives that produce results and impact on your bottom line. And if those other key metrics are aligned with the vision and mission of the company, you can profitably grow while achieving other higher minded, passion oriented goals.
Be a Leader who Empowers Others
The entrepreneurial trials of the economic crisis have shaken the confidence of even the most experienced business people. And we are not alone. The future feels less certain. That uncertainty undermines our self confidence and makes us averse to take risks and make bold moves.
But, there is good news that can breathe life into your confidence. You do not need all the answers. You do not even need to know the "how" beyond "what is the best next step?” Your future confidence needs to be about your team and the belief in what the team can do. Instead of relying on your past knowledge and achievements to move forward, empower your people to help you imagine the future. By engaging with and strengthening you team, you will be able to accomplish great things together.