The new year is just a few days away, so now is the time to finalize business goals for 2018. It’s also an opportunity to consider some strategic initiatives and changes that could serve as additional objectives or help you achieve the goals you've already set. Here are five key initiatives to consider based on some common new year’s resolutions for global businesses, including many of our clients at Graphite.
Give Your Goals a Reality Check
By now, most companies and firms have already set goals and defined forecasts and expectations for the coming year. However, there are a number of ways that goal setting can go horribly wrong. This is why it’s important to review your goals and apply a healthy dose of skepticism. Here are a few questions to get you started:
- Are your goals realistic?
- Are they driven by reliable historical data and a sober analysis of industry and market trends?
- Could your goals lead to negative consequences?
If you’re not sure or you suspect your goals are more hopeful than realistic, consider revisiting them or developing a new process for goal setting. Look to identify or start collecting the data, analysis and insights to help you revise or set new goals for the coming year and years to follow. This may mean researching your business performance and historical trends as well as external factors such as market conditions, economic trends and competitive threats.
In addition, you should consider how your goals might influence the focus, behavior and performance of your team and whether that could lead to negative outcomes. If you don’t have the in-house resources or expertise to get started, consider hiring a market researcher, financial analyst or management consultant. A short-term engagement with the right resource can go a long way toward setting achievable goals and developing a solid goal-setting process for the future.
Grow Your Team & Delegate More
If work is piling up and it seems like you’ll be starting the year behind schedule, it may be time to grow your team and delegate more. This can be an important move to help you focus more on your business goals and the strategic planning and execution to get you there. It’s also beneficial if you and your other staff members are handling many different responsibilities.
If you don’t have the time to focus on your goal-critical tasks or you lack the expertise to drive specific projects successfully, it may be time to bring in more resources. You can do this by hiring direct employees, but, if your needs are short-term or you don’t have the budget to support permanent hires, consider hiring some highly qualified freelancers or consultants.
Get to Know Your Customers Better
Understanding your customers is one of the biggest keys to growing your business and achieving your goals. Knowing your customers’ personas, pain points, needs and objectives are all vital to business planning, product development, marketing and sales. These insights help you understand your product or service’s value proposition, the features that drive that value, and how to develop and market products and services that deliver it.
Toward that end, a new year is often a great opportunity to update and gather new customer insights. It also presents an opportunity to put more systems in place to gather quantitative and qualitative feedback. You might do this by conducting online surveys and market research, creating focus groups, and launching projects to gather and benchmark pricing, brand awareness and customer satisfaction insights. One of the best ways to get started is by hiring a market researcher or industry analyst. An expert in these areas can help you develop the research methods and gather new data and information to expand your current customer insights.
Improve Your Digital Presence
For many businesses, digital channels are vital to brand building, reaching new customers, and driving new sales growth. If meeting your goals will require digital marketing and you’re lagging in this area, you may need to invest in improving your digital presence and leveraging these channels more effectively. Some of the most important channels are search engine marketing (SEM), email marketing, blogging and social media, but the right choices and tactics may vary based on your business model and target audience.
In addition, digital marketing is changing constantly. New channels and opportunities emerge frequently, and strategies, tactics and best practices are continuously evolving. This is why it’s critical to consult the right experts when you’re choosing and developing your digital strategies. Even if you have an in-house team that handles all of your digital marketing efforts, it often pays to seek third party expertise and recommendations from an agency or expert consultant.
For example, a digital marketing consultant may work with a variety of clients across an array of industries and channels. As a result, a consultant often has hands-on experience and a firm command of the latest digital tools, channels, trends and developments. Tapping this expertise can help you evaluate your current digital marketing efforts and identify the best ways to improve and maximize your results in the new year.
Manage Your Finances More Effectively
Understanding and managing finances is fundamental for any business, whether it’s managing the ebbs and flows of cash flow for a small startup or reinvesting capital at a major corporation.Effective financial management starts with having the right financial processes, systems, and reporting in place. These allow you to manage your day-to-day finances effectively, evaluate the financial health of your business, and make sound strategic choices and investments.
However, even in established companies with full accounting departments, there are often weaknesses in financial processes, reporting and visibility. For example, you may have an accurate view of accounts receivable and accounts payable, but you may lack confidence in your product cost accounting, particularly when it comes to labor and overhead. You may have a clear view of budget expenditures, but do you have reliable data on your return on investment?What about capital expenditures and investments? Do you know the best ways to strategically reinvest in your business?
As with other areas of any business, finance is one where continuous improvement often yields major benefits. As you head into the new year, look for opportunities to improve and enhance your internal financial visibility, insights and management. Identify the accounting systems, processes or reports you need to improve or put in place, and consider hiring an outside financial consultant or a team of consultants. Independent financial and accounting consultants can help you evaluate your current systems and processes and establish best practices. They can also help you tackle specific projects to address any weaknesses or unanswered financial questions that may be holding your business back.
Where to Hire the Experts to Help You Achieve Your Goals
For these and other strategic initiatives, tapping on-demand talent is often a great way to add the resources and expertise to help you focus on your top business goals for 2018. The growth of on-demand talent networks makes it easy to find and hire consultants, freelancers and proven experts to meet your short-term or long-term business needs.
In particular, you can use Graphite to find and hire pre-vetted and experienced professionals to tackle goal-oriented projects and make important strategic changes without investing in a full-time employee. To learn more about the possibilities and start your search for top-tier business talent, visit us now at www.graphite.com.