As we near the end of a tumultuous and challenging economic year, entrepreneurs and small business owners are undoubtedly taking a deep breath, and taking stock.
With a combination of ongoing political volatility and economic stagnation having created a tough environment, many businesses have failed to gain the momentum they were hoping for.
At this point, it is critical for savvy entrepreneurs to look ahead to 2017 – and to put measures in place to set the tone for long-term growth and sustainability. In my view, there are several key rules that every business owner should keep in mind as they look to get a head start…
1Don’t make assumptions
Too often, entrepreneurs rely on data-driven projections and their own passions to shape the products and services they offer. Sadly, they project shallow assumptions on to the market they are trying to serve.
This results in an offering that completely misses the mark. In truth, there is no such thing as a bad time in the market – there is simply a product or offering that is not fulfilling a market need.
Entrepreneurs should be constantly staying in touch with their customers and the challenges that they’re facing – and then designing their offering based on real insights. If you’re really paying attention (and not making assumptions), you can make any market work for you!
2Everything starts with the customer
The best way to combat the prevailing market uncertainty is to start and end with the customer. As with any business, no matter its size and sector, success will follow on from truly providing value and solving existing problems in society.
When you match your business purpose and strategy with clearly defined customer needs, success will surely follow. In addition, if you have the right view of your customers and their needs, you can also cut the wasteful and non-profitable parts of your business.
The old rule comes to mind here: Focus on the 20% of your business that provides 80% of the positive outcomes.
3Hire people who love what they do
When it comes to your people and teams for the year ahead, the smartest strategy is to simply hire people who love what they do – and whose values are aligned with that of the business. When people love what they do, engagement and productivity come naturally.
It is only when employees are disinterested in their daily work that engagement becomes near impossible.
As a rule, do not hire somebody desperate, otherwise you will be micro managing and wasting resources.
4Be smart with your own time
It is imperative that entrepreneurs and business owners manage their own time and energy effectively. I have a strategy that helps me to keep tabs on my time, and how it is spent…because how you spend your time is where the rubber really meets the road.
Every financial quarter, write down everything you’re doing in a day. Create five columns, and fill in:
- Your daily actions
- What they produce in monetary terms
- The cost to hire somebody to handle these tasks
- How much time is spent on these tasks
- The meaning that each task holds for you.
Once this has been done, identify the one thing that you are best at, and from which you derive the most meaning and professional pleasure. You should then prioritise your daily work around this element of the business.
The sweet spot is where your skill and purpose clearly overlaps with a defined market need. If you are truly serving people while harnessing your unique assets, success in business will come naturally. Visit www.drdemartini.com for more inspirational content for 2017.