5 Ways to Make Next Year Your Best Yet

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Make Next Year DifferentAbout this time of year, some people get in planning mode for the new year. Oftentimes this planning involves dragging out white boards and reviewing last year’s plan to evaluate progress.

My take it that kind of planning, trying to figure what to do next, only leads to mediocrity. It helps you get a little better, maybe, but it’s usually all down there in the ground level, tactical stuff.

Look, you know what you need to do, why not just stop the planning and jump off the ledge with some audacious goals – the kind that force you to get really, really uncomfortable, the kind that start at about 50,000 feet and manifest as chaos. The kind that change your perspective, your breathing, and your entire organizational vibe.

Here are five needle moving ways to make big impact in 2010

1) Embrace One Big Change at a Time

Lots of people make all these resolutions that turn into lists of things they kind of wish they would do. Not real powerful. Decide to make one big change and don’t even think about anything else until you’ve made it. Real change comes to those that understand progress is a process and doesn’t happen in a week.

Is this the year you quit smoking, become a vegetarian, start your business, get up at 5:30 am to write that book, take up yoga . . . one thing at a time, that’s all your brain can handle. In order to make room for your change you need to make the space to push something out. That’s why it’s so hard. Make it big and make it one thing. But, ask yourself this – what’s going to change this year if you don’t make this leap?

Leo Babauta of Zen Habits offers this for some help: The Habit Change Cheatsheet

2) Make Meaning Important in Your Business

If you are considering new strategies for you organization, consider this – culture is probably more important than strategy. What if you went to work on figuring out how to make your business or department a place where people find meaning? Where they want to come to work because they get fed and taught and appreciated. People don’t quit businesses, they quit their bosses.

This is such a tough one for business owners and managers because it means you have to put your ego away and let other people be right or fail in ways that teach. It’s so much easier just to tell everyone how to do it, but there are few thing more attractive from a marketing standpoint than a company full of people that are jazzed to be doing what they are doing.

This segment of Guy Kawasaki’s lecture for the Stanford Entrepreneurship Program is a excellent place to start: Make Meaning in Your Company

3) Do Remarkable or Quit Being Boring

You’re boring, your products are boring, your people are boring, your packaging is boring, your pricing is boring, and you wonder why nobody is talking about your perfectly adequate business. How’s that for some tough love. Everybody wants to get better, but slightly better and slightly less expensive is not remarkable. Are you stuck in a rut of trying to act like what’s normal for your industry?

This year, you’ve got to do something in your business that takes your competitor’s breath away or at least makes them mutter about your sanity. Remarkable resides in innovations that are both simple and brilliant, but nobody thinks or dare to do. Ridiculous service (Zappos), value based fees (no more hourly thinking), hip design (Jones Soda), simplified products (Orbit Baby), an unusual combination (Mo’s Bacon Chocolate Bar), authentic stories (Terracycle) – this is the stuff of remarkable.

4) Get What You’re Worth

Take a good, long look at your entire customer base and product and service mix and ask yourself about profit. Where does it come from? Usually the answer is from a select group of ideal customers or certain offerings that you are good at delivering. The flip side of course is that there’s always a group of customers or things you offer that drag your profits down – worse yet, they’re almost always unprofitable because you shouldn’t be working with them at all, and because of that, they also produce the most headaches and negative buzz.

Stop taking clients and work that isn’t right for you!

Focus on understanding the make-up of the ideal customer for your business – one you enjoy working with, one that values your unique way of doing business, and one that understands they will pay a premium to get what you have. Then, raise your prices and focus on communicating why you’re worth it. This may actually be harder for you to swallow than your customers. Too many business owners are trapped in hourly wage thinking and can’t ever get their heads wrapped around getting paid based on the real value they provide.

Start focusing on measuring and fully appreciating the value of the results you bring and this hourly wage trap may become a thing of the past. I wrote a post on Value Based Fees that might add to this thinking

5) Fuse Online With Off

By now I hope you’ve jumped into social media with both feet and are finding out just how tremendous some of these new tools and platforms are when it comes to reaching new folks and creating awareness about your business without spending much more than your time.

Now it’s time to take what you’ve learned online and find ways to use it to help make the cash register ring. I’m not talking about tweeting your sales message to all who follow, I’m talking about getting your team, your suppliers, and your customers active in social media and using tools like LinkedIn to create deeper connections with prospects you meet at face to face functions. Setting up classes at your business and teaching your customers how to get more from online participation is one great way to deepen your customer loyalty, no matter what your core offering.

I wrote a piece on this topic on American Express: 5 Ways to Use Social Media Activity Offline

Image credit: Joshua Davis


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