The beginning of a New Year brings with it the opportunity to reflect on the previous year and make resolutions on how to improve on past performance or to create opportunities to make 2018 successful for your business.

For many, 2017 was another year on the road to recovery; however, it was also a turbulent year for some with uncertainty still lingering around any fallout from Brexit or the election of Donald Trump. It is, therefore, a good time to set clear objectives which are also focused on adapting to a changing business environment.

However, while some of our personal resolutions may fall by the wayside before we’ve even taken down all of the Christmas decorations, to ensure the same doesn’t happen with your business goals it is important to define a strategy for the execution and monitoring of those goals and check in with the relevant people at various intervals throughout the year.

Setting goals and resolutions force you to analyse your business, reflect on past performance and decide where you want your business to be in 12 months or even 5 years from now. It also gives you and your team clear objectives to work towards, defined KPI’s to measure performance against and leads to cohesion amongst team members who are working hard towards the same goals.

While the following list is not exhaustive, nor is it industry or sector specific, most if not all will be relevant to your business to assist with its continuity and future success:

  1. Staff: 
  • Evaluate current staff levels – will additional employees help further your objectives?
  • Focus on retaining key staff – staff retention will reduce recruitment costs
  • Take the time to review pay scales and bonus incentives – there is a current shortage of talented and skilled graduates in Ireland; therefore focusing efforts on retaining key staff is worth the investment.
  1. Review Business Culture: 
  • A contributing factor of staff retention is business culture
  • Culture drives people’s behaviour, innovation, performance and customer service
  • Include business culture in your strategic plan – to provide opportunities for growth, increase morale and reward achievements
  • Remember to say “good job” – acknowledgement of a job well done can go a long way
  • Consider team building events, flexible working arrangements and sports and social clubs
  1. Emphasis on Technology: 
  • To compete in today’s economy it is important to keep up with technology
  • Including IT in your strategic plan will ensure you remain competitive and relevant
  • Define your IT requirements then assess the resources available to you
  • Consider cloud-based technologies for storage solutions, reduced infrastructure and maintenance costs, improved manageability and ease of access
  • Download apps and software to assist with budgeting, stock tracking, payments and invoicing
  • Utilise social media to increase your online presence, attract customers or new staff and gain valuable customer insights and all for little or no cost
  • If resources allow, hire an IT specialist to manage all of your businesses IT requirements
  1. Networking: 
  • It’s not about what you know, or who you know…it’s about who knows you!
  • Networking is about making connections and building long-lasting relationships and is a powerful marketing tactic
  • Include networking in your strategic plan by setting monthly targets for attendance at potential networking events; sign up to newsletters or alerts for upcoming events and seminars relevant to your industry sector
  • Consider sponsoring local events or even speaking at suitable conferences
  • Reach out to existing contacts for introductions to potential new customers or clients
  1. Organise Files / Records: 
  • Keeping up to date and accurate files is imperative for business success
  • Consistency and conformity is key – implementing a set filing structure for both hard copy and soft copy files will make documents easier and quicker to file and retrieve
  • Set filing structures will improve staff efficiency and productivity and will assist your staff taking over the management of a client file in the case of staff absences
  • Maintaining organised and up to date files will also be invaluable if your business is subject to company or Revenue audits
  1. Update Existing Budgets and Forecasts: 
  • If not updated, both your budget and forecast become irrelevant and misleading
  • To update forecasts you firstly need to review and evaluate your business performance, current resources, economic and business conditions
  • Set realistic but challenging targets and specify not only what you want to achieve but how exactly you intend to achieve it
  • Realistic and timely forecasting will help you to meet your performance targets, reduce unnecessary spending, assess staffing requirements and manage your cash flow
  1. Draw Up / Update Your Business Plan: 
  • Every business should have an active and living strategic business plan in place
  • The primary purpose of your plan is to define the purpose and direction of your business
  • Taking the time to write out your business plan forces you to consider all aspects of your business simultaneously: business objectives, staffing and operations, finances and market analysis
  • While clarifying the purpose of your business in your business plan sets out where you’re starting from, defining the direction you want your business to take allows you to set goals to reach for
  1. Don’t Go It Alone: 
  • Review your in-house skills set and see if any of your team has experience in IT, preparing budgets or strategic business plans
  • Utilising in-house staff can lead to cost savings, greater involvement and commitment of staff to strategic changes and also continuity of strategic plans into implementation
  • If in-house resources are not available, consider outsourcing some of your internal business functions (IT, HR, Finance)
  • Outsourcing accounting duties for example could also provide an objective and independent look at your business performance
  • You can also engage a business advisor to assist in raising finance, set meaningful short and long term goals and help put your strategic business plan in place

Now that you have your list of resolutions, the next step is to ensure that you have a realistic implementation plan to track your progress. Ensure that goals are communicated to all staff and assign the responsibility of implementing and achieving goals to specific staff members. Consider appointing a champion who would be responsible for keeping track of progress and regular reporting. Accountability, tracking and communication are the keys to successful implementation of your new year’s resolutions.

And remember, properly set goals are halfway reached!