Get Your Business Running Better Than Ever in 2017

The end of the year is a time for self-reflection, and looking back. It’s a time for inspection, reevaluation, and formulating all that into a new plan for the future. If you take this process seriously and set real, long-term goals for improvement, it can completely change the shape of your business for the better. As we move toward the new year, let’s look at a few ways that you can self-reflect and improve the way your startup runs.

In the flurry of any given business day, we don’t take enough time out to really think about the way we do things and the why that’s motivating those decisions. If we took an hour out of every day to be critical about the way business was going then that “wasted” time could turn out to be extremely valuable in the long run.

As humans, we’re never going to run at perfect, 100% efficiency, but there are many things we can always do to improve. Even if we can’t spend every day working on it, we can at least spend this moment of reflection at the end of year turned towards big changes that will pay bigger dividends in the long run.

People

Take the time to examine each element of your business in isolation. Start by look at the people. Is everyone engaged and happy with the work they are doing? Are they being productive at the rate that you as a leader expect? If the answer is no, take a deeper dive and examine the reasons why it feels that way.

Are they dissatisfied with the work they are doing? Are there issues outside the office that may be coming through the door? Your job is not to be everyone’s psychiatrist, but it is critical that you know your employees.

If they are having a problem, give them the space they need to solve it. If they are unhappy with their work, take the time to help them get in a better space. If the problem just seems unmanageable, it might be time to move on and look for the right person for that job.

Sales

This is also a great moment to take a real, hard look at your sales flow. If there’s some problem on the journey customers take toward that eventual sale, you need to be able to isolate it and fix it. To do his, look at the whole sales funnel, and break it down piece by piece.

Take the time to imagine what it looks like from the customer’s point of view. Are they having a good time when they work their way through your funnel? Are they engaged and receiving all the information they need at any given moment to make an informed purchase? Are they perhaps being overloaded with too much information that might not all be 100% relevant?

Pretend to be the customer, look at it step by step, and ask these questions. If you need to, create personas for the kinds of customer that you think are going to be buying your product most often based on the analytics you’ve gathered. If you understand how they think then you can understand how they might be tripped up by some part of your sales flow, and it’s time to make a change for the better.

Brand

When you can look back at a whole year, it can be much easier to see what kind of image that your business was presenting to the world during that time. Think about how that has changed over the course of that year, if at all. Are you happy with where you are now? Is this the story that you want to be telling about your business?

So much is predicated on the brand narrative because it pretty much defines who you are. Not just from the outside looking in, but the inside too. Are you happy with the product you’re selling? Are you happy with the way you are selling it? Are you happy with the people you are selling to?

It’s so easy to get lost in the cycle of making money and growing that you can lose sight of the mission that your business was founded on in the first place. Making money is important to success, but it’s also key that you are creating something that you’re proud of. If you don’t believe in your product then customers will recognize that, and it will end up being destructive in the long run.

Is every business ever going to reach its ideal self? Probably not, but it’s the human impulse to always drive toward the closest thing to perfection. Never stop driving--never stop looking at yourself and the ways that you can improve. Bring your team into the conversation and work together to create a framework for your future business that runs the way that you all have always wanted.

— ZK

Ed Lynes13p5Comment