The New Year Countdown…How to Prepare?

There are now 16 days between today and your clean slate–you know, the new year when you are sure you will be able to turn a page, charge the motor and get going on a great set of objectives, plans and projects to make 2012 the best year ever.  So how will you do that? What are you going to be doing in these next 16 days to be sure you are ready to hit the ground running?

How about a  guide that suggests one thing you can do each day do increase the odds that you will be prepared to “ready, aim, fire…” and not just “fire”?

Day one:  What changed in 2011?  What was new? Make a list of new products, customers, systems, competitors that showed up–yours or others–that look to impact business going forward.

Day two:  What went right in 2011?  Figure out the highlights, not just in the numbers, but consider how employees grew, things that worked in your favor, even unexpected happy surprises.  Ask yourself why these things worked?  What is your best guess?  Totally luck or do they suggest a positive reaction to something your organization or market is doing.

Day three:  What didn’t go well in 2011?  What were the disappointments and why do you think they ocurred?  With hindsight, could they have been avoided?  And if so, how?  What can do you differently next year not to make those same mistakes?  (A hint: most of my clients say the things that don’t go well are the ones that they pull the trigger on too fast–before they figure out what they need to know to make a responsible decision, and avoid a knee-jerk one.)

Day four:  What did you learn in 2011?  What discoveries did you make about the market, your customers, your processes, your employees, or even yourself that was new to you?  How do you use that knowledge next year?

Day five:  Pick five customers, not necessarily ones that you know well, and call them and ask for feedback.  Ask them the questions above for starters, and ask them how you can serve them better.  What did you find out?

Day six:  Google the internet for services in your category.  What companies show up on top?  Are they competitors?  What are they offering that is the same or different and how do they position it to the customers–the same or differently than you?  Do you feel you stand out?  Do you feel you show up? Are you ok with that for your business model?

Day seven:  Make a list of the most important things you can do next year to drive the business closer to your long term vision.  Rank them by which will have the biggest impact (not by urgency or easiest or which are already funded).  How similar is this priority list to what you were thinking about working on?

Good start!  This will take us through the week and next week’s blog will provide a daily task to see you through December 30.  I would enjoy your feedback about how you used the questions to shape your thinking!

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