What is one thing you should do in Q1 to set your company up for success in 2018?
These answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. YEC has also launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
1. Determine What Went Wrong in 2017
Look at areas earmarked for improvement in 2018 and focus on those. Determine what went wrong in 2017 and how you might change that. This should be separate, yet connected, to your overall 2018 goals.
2. Start Building Momentum
Many growing startups close out Q4 with a feeling of accomplishment. The problem is they expect their growth to slow or drop during Q1 due to the end of the holiday season, but this is a mistake. Instead, you should focus on keeping the momentum going into Q1 as if the holidays never ended. If you focus on pushing through and making sure your team is in that mindset, the ball will keep rolling.
3. Define Your Top Three Goals
I made a list of our top ten goals for 2018 and have chosen to focus on three in Q1. Once we’ve achieved those three goals, I will move down the list to tackle the remaining ones. Having clarity and focus will help us grow our client base and revenue in 2018.
4. Create Buyer Personas
Personalization is all the rage in e-commerce. Use holiday sales data from Q4 to create buyer personas based on the demographic and psychographic boundaries of consumers who purchased from you in Q4. Considering the sales spike you experienced, there will be plenty of data. Use the beginning of the year to personalize touchpoints across your sales funnel for future targeting.
5. Launch Quarterly Employee OKR Meetings
Objectives and key results (OKR) is a great practice to implement in your company. We have each employee set two to five quarterly goals that we will review at the next quarterly meeting. Setting longer term goals for your staff enables everyone to keep the focus on the most important factors for your company’s success.
6. Meet With a Tax Adviser
Set up an appointment with a tax adviser in early Q1. Whether you want to discuss business deductions to keep in mind for budget planning or bigger tax moves you need to make for the long term, find a tax adviser who knows your industry and can help you plan strategically. And don’t forget that a tax professional’s fees are also a tax-deductible business expense.
7. Have a Revised Budget
Always be changing your budget up or down each year to address areas of improvement, as well as areas of success that align with your goals and illustrate proven return.
8. Scout for Talent
Start hunting for more talent to put in the pipeline. Have an idea of where and how many people you may need to help you grow in 2018. Then start the process with job descriptions and put initial feelers out.
9. Organize a Team-Building Event
The beginning of the year is a great time for a team-building event where your team can reflect, set goals and turn over a new leaf. These investments are often forgotten or left out until there are specific problems to solve — and by that point it’s hard to be successful. If you choose to take some time out in the early part of the year, do it to invest in your team.
10. Ask for Employee Input
Communication is key to business success. Sit down early in Q1 and hear your employees out. They are witness to much more than you, and will hear great input on how to handle the year ahead.
11. Take a Pause
Every founder of the companies I work and invest in is running at full steam. Solving issues, putting out fires, building, ideating, hiring, grinding. It’s hard to take a strategic 30,000-foot view when you are fighting hand-to-hand combat every day. I push them at year end to make themselves take a break. Just as you get ideas in the shower, you’ll be surprised what realizations flow.
12. Restate Your Mission
Habits in life and in business affect day-to-day performance. By focusing on your mission statement, the “why” of your business, you get the mindset that every decision must reinforce that mission. For our company, the mission is to help people reach their goals. By using this as a factor in every decision, you will maintain focus and be on your way to a year of success.
13. Hold Stop, Start, Continue Sessions
Run a start, stop, continue session. These working sessions, ideally done with each department, have a moderator guiding the group through brainstorming projects that should be started to grow the company. Then, in order to have the capacity take on new projects, explore what should be dropped, or “stopped.” Finally, the group identifies what activities should be continued for 2018 success.