Last month I was invited to lead one of Enterprise Nation’s Lunch and Learn sessions on Power Actions for entrepreneurs this year. What a privilege! Here’s a quick snapshot of what I had to say…
Every January I start my year with a 12-action checklist. As someone who is neurodiverse, it can sometimes feel impossible to focus, but this checklist has been my saviour. If your year ahead feels too overwhelming to even comprehend and you’re unable to see the woods for the trees, grab a cuppa, take five minutes, and start to work your way through the following action plan.
1. Focus and dedicate time to plan
As a founder or entrepreneur it’s so easy to get carried away by ideas. I often find that I get caught up in the moment and lose sight of where I’m meant to be heading. However, right now is a great time to take stock and think long term. Book yourself some time out. If needs be book yourself into the hotel around the corner and set aside some totally uninterrupted time to plan for the year ahead.
2. Plan in three-month chunks
What do you want from this year? Many founders find it hard to focus on the long term so try cutting it down into bitesize chunks. What are you going to achieve in the next 90 days? Forget the rest.
One of the practices I like to use is to plan on a page. On the top half draw three columns, one for one-month goals, one for three-month goals, and one for six-month goals. On the bottom half of the page, write action items that need to happen to achieve each goal, who is going to take responsibility for that action and by when.
3. Take it back to basics and simplify
The start of the year is a great time to refocus and reset. Look at your business objectively. What is your product? Which audience responds to which service or product most profoundly? How can you engage with them most efficiently and effectively? It’s very easy to lose focus once your business has been running for a while. Take a moment to refresh some of your research and your analysis.
4. Review what went well
What went well last year? Can you Rinse and Repeat? As a visual person, I view all our services as horses on a racetrack. Each has so much potential, however each horse needs to be treated with varying levels of care and attention. Why are those lagging behind doing so? Do they need more attention or are they never going to be winners? Maybe that horse pulling out in front should get more of your attention and investment? You’ll have to be strict with yourself but not too harsh.
As an example, we’ve only just mothballed the service we launched SpareMyTime with (a home concierge service). It was bringing in 0.4% of revenue. However, don’t go on revenue alone – think of good will and marketing value. The time will come when you need to act, and you will know it.
5. Ask questions
As time progresses, I realise that questions are more valuable than answers. Keep asking yourself and others why. Listen to the answers and make amendments to your expectations. You’ll be amazed how much you learn.
6. Focus on your finances
With no money you have no business. Do you know how much you are spending? What are your profit margins? Understanding your figures gives you more control and power to carve a way forward. But remember, it’s also an area that you don’t need to do yourself. Whilst the numbers will inform your decision, the process of compiling those numbers can easily be done by a bookkeeper. We’ve seen so many founders gain control over their decision making by outsourcing their bookkeeping to our team.
7. Adapt to change and create solutions
The business landscape is dynamic, and entrepreneurs have to navigate constant changes in technology, market trends, and consumer behaviour. Most successful entrepreneurs are solutions-based thinkers. However, some may struggle with letting go of familiar methods or may find it challenging to stay ahead of shifts in industry or technology. Focus on being a solution creator and don’t allow yourself to wallow in excuses. Allow yourself to take mitigated risks and work out why some are successful and some are not. Learn from the experience. I had a chat with an accountant the other day about the AI software that we use to run management accounts and cashflow predications for clients. The accountant freaked out. Her fear is that AI is going to steal her job. She could be right. But it won’t if she embraces new technology or is at least open to it. I know that this tech is amazing. I know however that you still need human interaction to make it shine as brightly as it can.
8. Keep a diary
Starting a business is hard. Particularly in these choppy economic times. One of the best activities I’ve undertaken is noting down an overview of my past week; the hurdles that I’ve faced and how they have been resolved. At the end of the year, I write a monthly summary. What worked when and for how long? Your notes will give you an insight into how much you have achieved. You’ll be amazed. It’s fascinating to see how quickly we evolve and adapt.
9. Write a health plan, for you
With no founder, you have no business. It’s very easy to focus on the health of your business without focusing on your own health. Without your energy your business will suffer. So, take a moment to decide how you can protect your most precious asset this year. What could you do to ensure that your mental, physical, and spiritual health are prospering?
10. Time focus
Entrepreneurs often wear multiple hats, managing various aspects of your businesses simultaneously. Balancing operational tasks, strategic planning, and personal time can be challenging. However, mismanaging your time can lead to burnout, missed opportunities, or neglect of critical aspects of your ventures. Focus on prioritising – what do you need to do yourself and what can you outsource to others? We have many successful founders on our client roster and all of them cite outsourcing as the most effective way to achieve success more quickly and effectively.
11. Keep moving forward
Do you ever wonder if your business will ever take off? Then you’re in great company. Many successful founders have asked themselves the same question. However, the one thing they all have in common is their belief in themselves and in their business. Keep going!
12. Finally – have a big audacious hairy goal
The beginning of the year is fabulous for this. To give you an example when I founded SpareMyTime in 2020 I came across the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses; an accelerator programme funded by Goldman Sachs and run in partnership with Oxford University. The criteria for acceptance are rigorous BUT I made it my goal and each year it continued to be so until we hit the criteria. As soon as we did, I applied. And despite being the smallest, youngest business to be accepted, we made it! I start with Cohort 20 in February this year. So set yourself something seemingly unachievable and give yourself the scope to really make it happen. Anything is possible!
If after reading all of this, your mind is still a jumble with an abundance of ‘what ifs’, ‘maybes’ and ‘what should I do next’ type questions… fear not! Give us a bell to find out how virtual support could help to set your business on the right path this year – we’d be delighted to help!