business strategy and management

Get Ready to Tackle 2019

by: 

Ed Levy

Ed Levy is an industry veteran and director of software technologies at Hirsch Solutions.

As the CEO of your decorating business, early in the first quarter is an optimal time to brainstorm your business strategy for the new year, whether you’re a new or veteran business. Maybe you ended 2018 on a high note and want to aim higher in 2019. Maybe you want to grow your customer base with a new decorating service, or perhaps you didn’t hit your revenue goals as 2018 closed.

There's good news for you! You can set a new or super-charged course for your business this month and set the stage for success throughout the year. Try these 10 proven tactics to launch your business to new heights this year.

1. Reflect on how last year went down. Before you can move forward, you must review the past year. Did you achieve the goals you set last January? Yes, no, or partly? Where did you excel? Where did you fall short? Take these into account as you set your new goals.

If you haven’t been in the habit of writing your overarching goals down and posting them where everyone in your shop can see them, resolve to do it now. That way, you can work together as a team to achieve them, smooth out bumps along the way, and keep each other accountable. 

2. Chat with your team. Once you’ve had a chance to devise some new goals, talk to your employees. Survey them on their view of last year, and on ways your team can do even better this year. Consider their strengths, and where they could help you increase sales or come up with more innovative marketing ideas.

You could also schedule an offsite mini-retreat for you and your leadership team to review the past year and what you’ve learned, future goals, employee skill sets, and what opportunities and challenges the current industry landscape presents to your business.

For a more formal approach, conduct a SWOT Analysis, where you review your strengths (like higher sales or positive feedback from customers), weaknesses (areas where your company can do better), opportunities (new software or equipment to give you a competitive edge) and threats (this could be online competitors in your space).

3. Set a quarterly focus with drill-down goals. Now that you’ve set some big goals for your year, drill down everything by quarter and try to define a focus for each one. Of course, you can always change your direction, but starting the year with a general, higher-level roadmap helps more clearly define your drill-down goals.

4. Jot down a monthly action plan. Now that you’ve set your higher-level goals, you can hone in even further to steps your team can take on a monthly basis. These action items don’t need to be very detailed or lengthy. If you can write out 12 months worth of general ideas, great. If not, focus on your first quarter or two.

5. Motivate your people. Incentivize your team to hit the ground running. Whether you offer a special bonus, prizes, personal awards, or a group reward, this will go a long way toward lifting morale and excitement in your shop.

6. Plan your equipment and software investments. When you want to increase your shop’s capacity or add new decorating services, it’s always a good idea to make purchases early in the year, before unexpected issues arise in other areas of your businesses (like lowered sales, for example). Talk to your trusted equipment vendor or visit a trade show to learn about what’s new, financing and payment plans, and solutions for your business.

7. Review your disaster recovery plan. Have you planned for a natural disaster, power failure, or any other type of business interruption? You should also have a backup plan to ensure you never lose your data. 

8. Show your customers some love. The first quarter is a great time to personally reach out to all of your customers to thank them for their business and also learn about their plans and goals for the new year. Suggest ways that your decorated products and apparel can help them achieve those goals. Your watchwords should be “cross-sell” and “upsell.”

9. Work up your material. The average buyer reads 11.4 pieces of content from a company before making a buying decision, according to Forrester. Making content should be a priority in 2019, whether it’s upping your social media presence, updating your blog more consistently, creating cool decoration videos, or new graphics for your website. In addition, when you chat with your customers one-on-one, ask them if you can score a testimonial or create a case study about one of their success stories using your decorated apparel.

10. Plan to regroup at the end of the first quarter. Be proactive. Review your progress toward the end of March, both with your management team and your employees. In fact, add quarterly-review meetings to your calendar so the dates don’t pass you when you get busy. Decide what’s working and what’s not, and tweak the action steps you’ll take in the next quarter to hit your 2019 goals.

Try these 10 strategic tips to kick off your company’s new year in high gear. There’s no better way to do it than armed with all the data, management and employee observations, and customer feedback as you can accumulate.