I realized after 8 years in business I’ve seen some trends in how entrepreneurs kick off a new year. One thing I know I need to work on is calibrating the right sense of urgency in terms of all my goals and plans for 2011. This seems to be an issue for many small business owners as well. It’s not easy to keep everything in balance this time of year – not burning out too fast OR taking too long to plan. See if you can identify any of your own traits in these characterizations:
Roadrunner – This businessperson may take forever to make a decision to do something, but when they want to go they want to go FAST. Everything must be done yesterday and the sense of urgency on tasks makes everyone else feel as though they’re terribly behind. Roadrunners typically start multiple tasks at once at the beginning of the year but don’t allocate the appropriate amount of time to make sure they’re moving forward at a pace everyone can follow. Most of the time, they call “go” and those around them have to get going as fast as they can. This type of kick-off style creates a great deal of stress among employees and also resentments, especially if they don’t know how to set reasonable boundaries in terms of requests and deadlines.
Cecil Turtle – This type of entrepreneur is a big planner…an over planner. They spend January in meetings reviewing goals and plans. Everything is analyzed to the ‘t’ and there is no stone left unturned. Cecil Turtle is the very opposite of Roadrunner. Instead of wanting everything done at once, this type won’t let anything get started until everything has been reviewed and reviewed… In addition, there’s no room for modification in the eventual plans. They’re set in stone and challenges are frowned upon. In today’s environment where change is frequent this can be very tough for employees who may need to respond to clients and partners fluctuating needs. In addition, staff gets frustrated as there is a lack of sense of accomplishment. With Cecil Turtle, you may get rolling as late as April on actual tactics.
Cowardly Lion – This business owner may seem like Cecil Turtle, but actually he or she is afraid to make a decision. Yearly strategies are often put off in place of day to day tasks. After the economy of the last two years, there are many folks out there that are Cowardly Lions, and that’s not really a bad response. But too much apprehension or fear of risk can make employees feel like they have no mission or direction. This can feel frustrating as well – and hurt the business.
All of the above approaches to starting off the new year can hurt your business, and with the job market heating up, could lead to turnover. I’m going to try very hard to operate my business like Steady Eddie this year. Here’s the profile of a Steady Eddie. This management style should not only get things rolling in the right direction for 2011, it will maintain the right balance between strategy and tactics!
Prepare a plan for 2011 that includes marketing and business goals, as well as a social media strategy
Develop that plan in less than 4 hours, and have a trusted colleague or peer review it for you to get an objective opinion
Review that plan at the end of every quarter, and adjust accordingly.
Review financial goals against performance on a monthly basis.
Allocate percentage of time spent on new business, billable work (if you’re a consultant like me) and social media and review that monthly
I come from the public corporate world, so working on a quarterly basis is completely ingrained in me. With a larger plan for the year, I can “kick-off” with a fresh attitude each quarter. And hopefully avoid the wrong sense of urgency – too much or not enough – to make 2011 a fantastic year for business. How do you plan for a new year? What’s the best way to do it?