It is a long fast tradition to make a resolution going into the New Year. The classic resolutions revolve around our health, our relationships and our finances — but what about our businesses?
As I have been enjoying the festivities through this holiday season, I also have been taking the time to do a deep-dive on my business. I run a forward-thinking business in an archaic industry. Preparing to come exploding out of the gates on Jan. 1, I decided to review every aspect of my business. I wanted to identify ways to make the business better, more profitable and more rewarding. I’m sure you are thinking about your business the same way.
As I was wrapping up my own business-planning session, I realized that my thoughts could be summed up in four focal points that could help any entrepreneur to re-invent or streamline his or her business. I would encourage you to take a few hours, after the few minutes needed to read this article, and do your own review.
Here are four focal points to lead you towards a successful business re-invention in the New Year:
1. Look at trends.
2015 could go down as one of the biggest change years in business. An entire new trend was created called the Share Economy, and new companies like Uber, airbnb, relayrides, sparefoot and Lynda emerged as the new titans of business. The commonality that these businesses share is giving average folks the ability to leverage assets that they already have in their lives. This trend is only going to grow in the coming years.
What can you learn from this phenomenon? How can you position your business to take advantage of this trend? How far will sharing go? How can you get people who are already using products like yours involved in helping you?
What other trends are occurring in the world — or your industry — that can help you to succeed? A few years ago, my team identified a shift in buying habits of consumers in our space. This led us to completely re-inventing our business, and we are reaping the rewards of this today.
2. Look at your competitors.
Competition is healthy. There are a lot of smart people out there. My industry is one of the oldest in the world, and we are a new player in it. I had to study my competitors in order to ensure that I was not wasting time, or money, on things that had already been tried. Who are your competitors? What are they doing? If you take the time to study what your competitors are doing, it will help you to identify gaps in your industry that no one is focusing on.
Gaps lead to opportunities. In a recent review, I saw that the competitors in my industry had developed companies focusing on two completely opposite ends of the industry. This left a massive space in the middle for our company to grow.
3. Look at your overhead.
A large number of business failures could have been avoided if the principals would have just spent more time studying the profits and losses. The beginning of a new year is a great time to look at what your businesses is costing you. Is there a less expensive way to operate? Can you have more people working remotely? What positions can you move from employee to contractor? Do you need a physical office? Can you take advantage of contractors in other countries?
When we decided to take our traditional hybrid publishing company and turn it into a high-tech social-media company in 2012, we knew that we had to look in less expensive parts of the world to operate. We subsequently incorporated a wholly owned subsidiary in Panama, where overhead is literally 60 to 70 percent less then in the U.S.
I didn’t have the heart to lay off our very loyal U.S. based employees, however, I knew that we could drastically reduce our overhead as we grew by building a new team in Panama. This experience has opened my eyes to how we all can operate more efficiently in a new global economy.
Studying your financials, as part of this exercise is incredibly important, regardless of how small your business is. You will save yourself a lot of money if you know where every cent is spent and how to keep more of them in your bank account.
4. Drop the dogs.
When you take the time to study your industry trends, your competitors and your financials, you will find things that you need to change, employees that are not performing to your standards, products that you are loosing money selling and new products you could be selling. But the next step is the most important: Drop the dogs! When you find things that are not helping you grow, you have to shed them them — fast.
I know this sounds heartless, but you are in business to profit and grow. If an employee is not performing to the standard and you have exhausted all attempts to remedy, then you need to let them go. If a dollar-cost-analysis has made you realize that you are loosing money every time you sell your flagship product, then you need to get a new flagship product. If you are driving your company down a road that is aged and clearly no one else is on, then you need to get with the trends and change directions.
Dropping the dogs simply means to get rid of the things that are slowing you down or holding you back. By looking at the trends in your industry, your competitors and your own financials, you will be able to re-invent or streamline your business for the New Year.