Originally published on B2B.DnB.com
The beginning of the year means it’s time to begin preparing for an even more profitable 2018.
The first important thing you can do is to assess the health of your business as it stands today. Doing so can help you identify areas where improvements can be made as well as strengths which you might be able to expand and achieve even greater success over the coming months.
The following 10-point checklist should help you accurately measure the pulse of your company so you can better prepare and plan for a new year.
New Client Acquisition
Chances are growth is at the top of your list of business objectives, so it stands to reason that how you rate on acquiring new clients is one of the first things you should review. Are you doing enough in this area to achieve continuous and sustainable growth?
What additional opportunities are available that will help you convert more prospects and close new business? If so, build them into your strategy for 2018.
What is your current system for getting your message in front of your target market as often as possible? Where are you investing the bulk of your marketing budget? Are these strategies producing optimal results?
Assessing your present marketing strategy can help you reallocate your resources to do more of what’s working and less of what’s not. It can also open your eyes to other channels you may not yet be taking advantage of that could make 2018 even more lucrative.
It’s not just about getting in front of people and sharing your message with the masses. It’s about getting in front of the right audience at the right time. You must be strategic about this; otherwise you will be wasting valuable time. As you conduct your year-end assessment, determine where your speaking strategy stands in the most critical areas of frequency, quality and impact. If you feel you could improve on any of these areas, the time to start strategizing is now.
You may have the art of capturing leads down to a science, but are you doing enough to actually nurture those leads through to conversion? End-of-year is a great time to evaluate your existing practices for building and strengthening relationships with prospective clients.
Remember – it can take 6-8 touch points to successfully convert a lead into a paying customer. If your current strategies aren’t creating at least this many touches, it’s likely you are leaving money on the table. It’s worth correcting this in the coming year.
How did the numbers shake out for 2018? What was your closing ratio and how did it measure up to the sales goals you had in place for the year? How many new sales did you make versus repeat business from existing customers? Are there areas where you could be capitalizing to boost sales even higher in 2018, such as cross-selling or upsells to complementary products or services?
Your existing network is a powerful resource for business growth. Are you investing enough resources into identifying and developing strategic alliances with other complementary businesses and likeminded professionals?
These connections can be a valuable source of referrals, knowledge and resource sharing, access to new markets and opportunities for growth. Who should you focus on aligning your business with next year? Reach out now to schedule a conversation to discuss how you can collaborate in 2018.
Profitability / Cash Flow
The financial health of your business today can indicate how well it will perform over the coming months. Doing an in-depth dive into your cash flow position as it stands today can also help you identify areas that need improvement. Is your business currently cash positive? What is available in your savings account? Are you up to date on your taxes and other obligations?
Consult with a your accounting team on how you can make more strategic decisions with your business finances in 2018.
It’s likely that increasing profits and generating additional income streams are on your list of goals for the New Year. Productization is something you may want to consider. What value-added services could you potentially transform into a turnkey sales opportunity?
You’re already an expert at what you do. Could you repurpose that knowledge and expertise into a book, a podcast or video series? Keep in mind that this could be a resource you sell or a free tool that serves as a vehicle to generate more brand recognition or to nurture leads.
How is your business operating internally? If you have employees, are you investing in their ongoing engagement and retention?
Are key departments functioning well, such as accounting, human resources and legal/contracts? Do you have the equipment and technology you need to operate smoothly and meet your goals? Assess the overall functionality of your office as it stands today and determine what areas have gaps that need to be filled.
Last, but certainly not least, don’t forget to invest in the person who is most important to the ongoing success of your business: you. What are you doing to make improvements to your own life, both personally and professionally? Are you taking care of your health and wellness? Are you seizing opportunities to continue to learn and grow?
Whether it’s a commitment to get healthier, making the time to attend more industry-related events, pursuing that advanced degree you’ve always wanted or something else, make sure these things are incorporated into next year’s plan. You’ll want to encourage your employees to do the same and perhaps even set aside an educational budget to help them grow their skill set.
As you look forward to another bright and promising new year, knowing where you stand can help you prioritize and plan for bigger and better objectives in 2018. The aforementioned checklist will allow you to prepare for and approach the first quarter with clarity, confidence and a renewed sense of commitment.