Don't fly by the seat of your pants, pilot the airplane!
Start 2014 flying above the rest! What are your professional development plans for next year? How about marketing plans? In what areas are you or your business deficient in, and what will you do to gain those skills or excel in those areas? How can you create more of a personal touch?
Try something different and more ambitious at this year end. Here are some ideas to consider:
1. Deliver New Year's voice mails: On the afternoon of New Year's Eve, take a list of your top clients or customers and block out time to call each of them. Leave a voice mail that thanks them for their business and tells them how much you value the relationship. Often, this message is the first one they hear when they get back into work mode.
2. Make a top 10 list for your business: Be like David Letterman! What were the top 10 things you did right, and the top 10 that failed? Brainstorm ideas with all those involved. You will be surprised how quickly this reviews your business from the year and culls out what you do not want to carry into the next year.
3. Prepare an annual business summary: Prepare a brief summary of the work you did for your top clients and customers and the results produced. Create an agenda for a meeting to discuss with them your goals and objectives for the upcoming year. Send this to them and follow up to schedule a meeting.
4. Meet with a mentor: Everybody needs a business development mentor who is interested in them, their company and committed to their success. If you don't have one, find one. Then review your year with him or her and discuss your plan for 2014.
5. Take your "team" out to celebrate the year: Think about the colleagues and team members who were instrumental to your success in 2013. Make sure that they know that you appreciate their help. Get to know how you can help them to grow and succeed in 2014.
6. Check in with lost clients and customers: Many times companies find "use it or lose" it funds on the books at the end of the year. If your timing is right, they may just reopen the conversation where you left off and have you invoice them in December to get some extra money off the books.
7. Cut excess expenses now: Clean up your finances for 2014. Look at space, telecom, supplies, utilities, printing, catering, subscriptions, etc. Cut your excess costs now to boost your bottom line for 2014.
8. Make sure your marketing efforts are showing a return on investment: Tracking leads, sales, and developments from all marketing efforts will help you understand which approaches are working and which are not. This will also help you plan for the coming year and strategize according to the results they have seen for this past year.
9. Say "Thank you" to your community and allies: Write a "Year in Review" post or email to your community and network to share the progress you have made this year. This will let them see from "behind the curtain" and engage them a bit more than a typical blog post. Also, highlight some of their successes and publicly congratulate them.
10. Out with the old, in with the new: This is the time to freshen up your online presence with a newly redone website and improved social media presence. Take out stale web content and replace it with cutting edge material. Even if you just rephrase your service offerings and biographies, a new spin can entice clients and customers, both preexisting and future.
11. Make new year resolutions: Now is the time to set monthly goals, expenses and budgets, sales, and promotions for next year. Waiting until the new year to implement new ideas leaves you behind the curve.
12. Have a good vision statement prepared: A vision statement will serve as the big picture of where you see your company at the end of 2014 and beyond. It will serve as a guide to steer you in the right direction and reach your destination.
Why should you follow this advice? First, it will separate you from the others that go through the "routine end of year motions." Secondly, it provides that contact and personal touch that leads to results. Finally, you hit the ground running in 2014 and get a head start on your passive competitors.
Brad Larsen is a life coach and corporate consultant from northern Utah. He can be reached at email@example.com.