As you think back on 2014, did it go the way you hoped it would for the business? Over the upcoming holiday season, carve out some time to reflect on the year that is coming to a close and to plan for the year ahead. You will want to do more of the things that worked well and find a way to change the things that did not. One way to go about doing this could be to think about your business at three different levels.
Business goals and objectives
Did you achieve the business goals and objectives that you planned to in 2014? If not, why not? Think of all the reasons that prevented you from achieving them. For example, we had hoped to expand our company and open a new office in 2014. We however, were not able to. Why? The company did not meet its projected sales targets. One of the reasons behind that was the cancellation of our marketing plan. In 2015, the launch of our marketing plan will be a priority.
In addition to thinking about what you will do differently, celebrate the goals and objectives that you did achieve. Understand the reasons behind your success in those areas and identify lessons learned.
Policies and procedures
Make a list of your business policies and procedures. Do all of them promote the smooth running of the business and business growth? What needs to change? For example, in the area of finance, how much freedom do your employees have to make financial decisions? Must employees obtain approval for every shilling of company money they wish to spend? How much does that approval process slow business down? Is it time to grant them some level of discretionary spending? If yes, what will their discretionary spending level be and how will you hold them accountable? Review all your policies and procedures and plan to change the ones that are not helpful.
Business operations activities
Make a list of all your business operations activities. What worked well in 2014 and what did not? You may not be the best judge of what is working well and what is not. I just spent two weeks in Butare, Rwanda. At one of the restaurants that my team frequented, the wait for a plate of baked fish was 1.5 hours, every single time! In the hotel where our workshops were held, the floors were perpetually filthy. The business owners managers see no reason to change the way they do things. In addition to your own reflections, ask your customers what they think and use that information to guide you.
Involve your team
After you have had the opportunity to think things through, invite your employees to a session where you can go through the exercise as a team. Reflect on what worked well in 2014 and what did not. Encourage your team to suggest ideas on how to improve in 2015. Remember to celebrate your success.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor