Stone Creative Consulting
Small Business + The New Year
This time of year is very...unique. The time around the holidays, from Christmas until the New Year, all tend to jumble together. We've got parties, family, friends, shopping, cooking, baking....and of course the cocktails. We’ve already spoken a lot this year about the need for personal care, which includes your mental health, because it is the foundation for everything else in your life. So make sure to take the time around the holidays to enjoy your family, rest, and relax so you can hit the ground running in the New Year.
In addition to taking some time for you, you should also take time to reflect on the past year, both personally and professionally. What worked well? What would you have done differently? What did you learn? Reflection of your accomplishments is important to know when making your plans on where to go next.
Outlining some of those key things can help you answer questions that will help you plan for the next year. What do you want to accomplish? Where can you make improvements to some of the things you are already doing? What do you need and want to focus on? Where can you focus more of your time to accomplish your goals? Is there anything you can (or should) outsource?
To help our business, we looked at several different aspects including (but not limited to) - Where were we spending the majority of our time? Where were we making the most money? Were we aligned with our current clients? What made those partnerships successful? Where did we feel like we fell short? Where were areas we felt added to our stress? What tasks took away from our stress?
Once we had that outline, we identified trends. Three of those trends are time management, strategy, and deliverables.
Time management is something we should all continue to reevaluate, identifying ways to improve. For us, because our business is a service, time management and deadlines are important. How could we manage our time better? How could we “tag-in” and delegate some of our tasks that may take us a long time to complete, by utilizing other people's strengths (in turn, freeing up our time)? Where were we procrastinating and how could we prevent it in the future? Could we adjust some deadlines to help? Could we set better boundaries with ourselves and our clients?
The next trend we saw, strategy, is an important part of any business. While we work with our clients on their strategy weekly, monthly, and/or quarterly we found we were not evaluating ours as regularly. Our social strategy is just as important as our clients', and while we spend a lot of time planning it up front, we aren't great about coming back to it. We tend to plan our strategy and write our content ahead of time. But, planning and executing are two very different things. You can't plan too far ahead, or the content and strategy you have may no longer be relevant when it comes time to execute. To help, we created a content calendar, with themes. This allows us to plan ahead while still being flexible with the actual content. So regular strategy sessions are a must!
The last trend we will share, is deliverables. It is easy to outline deliverables when you start working with a partner. But, those deliverables will, and should, change over time. For example, the reports we provide change based on the platform. And sometimes, the platform changes the reports available (thank you Google). The goals of a digital campaign will change as the strategy changes and milestones are met. How can you continue to report on what is important to your partners if you don't continue to redefine the goals?
All three of these trends affect each other. When you wait until the last minute to define deliverables, you cut into your time management. When you don’t revisit your business strategy or content you have previously curated, you alter your time management. When you have to adjust your project management because of unaccounted for changes, you add to your stress.
Our recommendation - evaluate what worked over the last year and evaluate what didn't. Identify ways you are making things harder for yourself. Map out small changes you can make that could have a profound impact on your business. That could be something as simple as hiring a partner to help you with your strategy, utilizing a platform to help you manage your time and delegate tasks, or time blocking with specific focuses each day.
While we all think about resolutions we want to make for ourselves for the coming year it is important to remember, the small changes you make in your life can have big payoffs. Nothing in business or in your personal life (including weight loss - something on everyone's list after the holiday indulgence) happens overnight. It is the small choices you make everyday that will get you to where you want to be. Investments in yourself will help your business. But, no one can pour from an empty cup. Take time to really reflect, write down your goals, and take the time to outline measurable milestones to accomplish them. And as always, we are here to help - we love strategy sessions!
See you in the New Year!