What investments are you planning to make in the first quarter of 2018 to improve your business?
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. Great People
In 2018, we will continue to invest in our strategic vision and our commitment to hiring the best people. Then we will stay out of the way as they execute on that same vision. I primarily focus most of my time on setting strategy and recruiting the absolute best people in the business. Without those people, we can never be a great company.
2. Employee Creativity
Every year, I dedicate one month in the first quarter for employees to develop new media products of their own liking with few restrictions. Every year, new products come out of this exercise and the pride of the group increases tremendously. Encouraging creative individuals to do more of what is meaningful to them results in genuine output brimming with emotional value.
3. Team Building
A great company starts with an amazing team of people to support its services or products. I’m working on developing a really strong team by getting to know their drives, desires, what motivates and excites them, and what they need help with. The first quarter is a great time to hire and invest in your team.
4. Better HR Technology
The beginning of the year is a great opportunity to embed workflows into sophisticated systems. Many HR departments are still behind on this, or aren’t maximizing the functionality of tools that exist in the space. With my extra time this quarter, I’ll be trying to migrate old-school processes into a more streamlined and paperless workflow.
5. Mobile Technology and Experiences
I can’t say this enough: Everything is going mobile. By 2020, desktops will just be for work. Everyone is using mobile devices, phones and tablets, for everything. If you’re reading this, and by 2020 you haven’t made any significant investments in mobile technology or experiences, then you’ve missed the train by your own doing.
6. Live Chat
We’re investing in live chat this year to test out and measure the ROI of some of our SaaS products. We recognize that customers have a lot of options and we want to make the decision process as easy as possible for them. Having live chat means you don’t need to spend hours on the phone waiting for customer service. It’s just a quick question away.
7. Security Audit
Cybersecurity is the most important issue that most companies totally neglect. Each year, we conduct an equipment and security audit and investigate new vendors to handle our needs if necessary. Aside from providing adequate protection of our clients’ data, having good security protocol is a way to differentiate your business from those that do not.
8. Public Relations
I learned from running an online-based business that links from major publications increase search engine rankings more than any other type of link. It is not easy putting yourself and your business out there, though the payoff is worth it. I wrote a book that I intend on leveraging to garner positive PR this quarter.
2017 was the year of building software, content and SEO authority. In order to further grow these channels, we need to be able to track and measure performance. A priority for 2018 is dialing in on analytics and conversion tracking. We’re investing in hiring an outside analytics professional to audit our current systems and build a proper conversion tracking solution.
10. Scalable Sales Processes
This year, my focus is on getting out of the entrepreneur-style, chaotic sales process and into a highly systemized and scalable sales process. I brought in a new COO and a high-level sales consultant to ensure that we can build out a sales process that is predictable and will allow us to go from three salespeople to more than 20 sales machines in 2018.
11. New Office
We’re moving to a new office that will have a combination of shared workstation space and glass-walled offices for meetings with customers. The goal is a renewed commitment to internal collaboration, as we’re literally removing the walls between departments.
12. New Office Furniture
Since most of our office furniture is more than five years old, I have decided to update the entire office including computers, printers and scanners this quarter.
13. Company Retreat
A multi-day retreat with the team to set strategy and vision for the new year can be one of the best investments of time and money. Not only does it provide an opportunity for everyone to realign, but it also ensures any other investments or projects are known among the team and evaluated on how they fit into the larger vision for the year.
14. Personal Health
This year, I’m planning on investing more in my health. I’ve realized that spending hours on the computer is great for business but not always for my health. I’m investing in an ergonomic chair and stand-up desk to help me maintain my posture during the workday. I’m also planning on spending more time hiking outdoors, working out and eating healthier.