Quick Tips for 2018
As we enter into a new year, we are all hoping for more success than we had this year. We all have a tendency to cry into our eggnog as we reflect on the failures, but it’s time to move forward! To start, you must address the self-doubt that still holds so many of us back if we let it.
Sheryl Sandberg asks a very important question: “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”
Reflect on that for more than a moment. Really, give yourself some time to answer. 2018 must be the year when you do the things that only you have been keeping yourself from. Here are some things to keep in mind and stay on track this year:
1. Stop Letting Politics Hold You Back From Your Ambitions
Many of us spent lot of time arguing and being negative in 2017. We’re entering into a brand new year and it’s time to move forward. Capitalize on potential opportunities from recent political tax laws and regulations and ignore the partisanship debates.
It’s very easy these days to get wrapped up and become combative, but that’s the wrong approach. Doing that will send you down a path to nowhere. For small business owners, the passage of the Tax Cuts and Job Act is actually a pretty big win!
Unless you’re a service-based business earning $315,000 a year or more, you will get a 20% tax break. Think of what you could use that for. You could invest that money in yourself and your business.
In states like Florida and Texas, you’re really going to see some positive effects next year and no matter where you are in the US, it’s likely going to be less expensive to rent than buy. What’s in it for you? You can take those old and new business ideas out for a spin without having to make a huge commitment in the process.
2. Capitalize On The Shared Economy
The shared economy is growing and providing numerous opportunities. Businesses like Uber and Airbnb aren’t going anywhere anytime soon and they’ve paved the way for more and more innovation for small and big businesses alike. My prediction is that financial crowdfunding tools in particular are going to be huge in 2018.
If you’re willing to adjust and educate yourself on how to work with new vendors and stay open to outsourcing, when it makes sense, you can be successful. You may surprise yourself this year by what you can accomplish by embracing change.
3. Embrace the internet in spite of the end of net neutrality
Yes, net neutrality may be on its way out the door, but this is not going to shut down the internet, especially if you’ve been dragging your feet anyway. Get on the cloud, get on Facebook, and get with the program this year. If you’ve been slow to embrace digital marketing, 2018 has to be the year that you get with the times.
Google, Facebook and Amazon affect almost every business and must be considered for their roles as a supplier, customer, vendor and information sources. The cloud and analytics are providing numerous tools to better manage and develop more profitable businesses.
4. Replace complex distribution and manufacturing structures with direct operations
You simply can no longer afford to rely on having a good product or service. Automated sales and inventory management systems are rapidly replacing antiquated human systems. If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, there’d better be WIFI set up or else no one is going to know that it happened.
Amazon and other direct sellers are reducing and eliminating brick and mortar stores In general people spend about 4 hours a day on their computers or phones which is dramatically changing marketing practices. This may sound scary, but it offers some fantastic opportunity for growth.
5. Be Crazy Enough To Change
You have to give emerging business trends more than just a passing thought or else you may very well go out of business or at least miss out on opportunity. We must consider multiple and dynamic alternatives, goals and methods. For example, goals like profit versus growth can change radically based on the phase, environment, or business conditions
Issues like sexual harassment have finally become a critical consideration when evaluating organizational practices. There is a complete restructuring of corporate power structure and rules. This requires a dramatic shift from hierarchical to distributed organizations, where participants at all levels have more participation and power.
Bill Gates once said: “People who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.” Keep this in your brain and you’ll be on the right track.
6. Be inclusive of the nation’s changing demographics inside
If you haven’t looked at the nation’s changing demographics lately, you’re already falling behind. One of the most important things to note that applies to all business owners is the aging of the population. The flow of baby boomers is entering into their retirement years. Over 2/3 of U.S population growth will be among those over 65 in the next decade.
Similarly, income distribution and markets continue to flow towards the wealthy. Who is your consumer and are they among the 2% wealthy or the 40% estimated poor? You have to know the answer before you can move forward in 2018.
7. Make technology, AI and analytics part of your 2018 strategy
These are no longer just considerations for the tech bros and big companies. There are great tools available for small businesses in areas like file management, sales force management and the cloud to improve your effectiveness and reduce costs. Don’t be afraid to outsource these services
Artificial Intelligence and can be used even in moderation to develop new models and alternatives As technology improves it still must be managed. For example, when exceptions happen in automated solutions like customer service or airport delays human backup must be available.
8. Develop. Test. Measure. Adapt.
Your financial model must be dynamic and interactive as business keeps changing. 2018 has to be the year that you get your business finances in order. See our simple model that can be developed in less than one day.
Once you develop your plan, you must test, measure, and adapt. You will make mistakes and learn from them. A large part of your success will depend on whether you evaluate your goals regularly. For example, how is important is profit versus growth and do you include operations as part of your marketing program?
9. Take more risks this year
This is not the year to hold back. It’s the year to let go. People are generally risk averse to taking risks, especially if it involves changing the way you do business.
For example, despite the proven success of analytics in sports, managers still want to rely mostly on intuition. Going with your gut is great, but it will only get you so far as a standalone strategy. Just ask Joe Giraldi, former manager of the Yankees.
Better data needs to be accompanied by some risk in searching for the exceptional. Open cultures, diversity, testing, and allowing deviant behavior in some degree, can all add excitement and risk to an organization but they can also help produce exceptional results.
Companies are slow to acknowledge that we live in era of low interest rates, low inflation, and reasonable growth. Thus, many companies face much better investment opportunities than in recent years.
Remember: Wayne Gretsky was absolutely right when he said “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
10. Keep it simple with the 80—20 rule
By far, the 80-20 rule is the simplest and best tool I use with clients. It has been proven time and time again that 80% of your sales and products will result from 20% of your offerings. Therefore, it stands to reason to stock up on your best sellers and ditch the the losers.
How can you employ this in 2018? Test new pricing strategies like freemium and demand pricing. These can range from simple free samples to sophisticated pricing models used by entertainment and sporting events. The simplest, and most important aspect, of course, is to hug your best customers and say please, thank you and, how are you?
Overall, the most important thing to keep in mind this year is to have some fun. You started your business because you had passion. Don’t lose that. If you’re truly happy doing what you’re doing, your customers will want to buy into it. They will feed off of your excitement!
Want some one-on-one time with someone who’s been there, done that, and gotten the t-shirt? Contact me. I’d love to speak with you and help you make this your most successful year to date.
Dr. Bert Shlensky, president of Startup Connection( www.startupconection.net ) is a graduate of Sloan School of Management at M.I.T. He served as the president of WestPoint Pepperell’s apparel fabrics business & President and CEO of Sure Fit Products. Having provided counseling to over 2,000 clients, he focuses on working with select start up and small businesses.