It’s the third week in January and it barely feels like a New Year anymore. Most of us are already neck deep in the daily grind that is handling business obligations, all of which seem equally important and urgent. So, how do you choose what tasks to tackle first? How do you decide which goals you should focus on for the rest of the year?
Here are three goals you should have on your list that are essential to your business’ success and, if you put a good process in place, would start 2016 right for you and make it a fulfilling year for your company:
1. Talk to your customers
Every minute, a new company is being registered. As the business space gets more crowded, there is a need to stand out from the crowd. One sure way to stand out and be remembered by your customers is to provide excellent service, and the best way to know what services your customers consider excellent is by finding out what they want. How do you do that? By talking to them.
It’s not enough to hide behind surveys and feedback forms, try to establish lasting relationships with customers. Set aside time on a regular basis to listen to and learn from your customers -- What are the things that make them happy? What things cause them pain? How can your business alleviate their pain? When you’re starting out, we recommend talking to your customers at least once a week. At the end of each week, collect and analyse the feedback you get from them.
There are a lot of resources on how to build relationships with your customers. Two of our favourites are Steve Blank on Customer Development (summarized here by Eric Ries) and these videos by Customer Dev Labs. Remember, keeping customers happy is a sure way to get free publicity through referrals and to expand your business.
2. Be more process oriented. Document everything.
The end goal for most business owners is to have a well-known sustainable business that outlives the owner. For this to happen, a business needs to hire others to drive this end goal, and as much as we like to believe that people will immediately know what to do on their job, this is rarely the case. Think about it, sometimes you even forget how you solved a problem last month.
To ensure that useful solutions and quick hacks that help your business run more efficiently don’t get lost when you are away, or if an employee leaves, always write things down -- from simple tasks like an email template to more complex ones like your expansion strategy to a new market.
3. Keep your books (of accounts)
Nobody starts a business so they can do paperwork all day, and unless you are an accountant whose full time job is adding up receipts and summing up invoices, you know this is not enjoyable work. Unfortunately, bookkeeping is a necessary evil for business success, and the longer you put off this task, the worse it gets. No one has to sell you the benefits of having your accounts in order; as Lanre Akinlagun, CEO of Drinks.ng puts it, “Setting up a business anywhere is extremely challenging but the biggest lesson I learnt last year was, the most important hire is an accountant!”
So, what happens if you can’t justify having an accountant your payroll full time? If you’re like most people who absolutely detest numbers, or if you are looking for a more localized bookkeeping service, contact us.
These are some of the goals we think you should have for your business this year. Did any of them make your list? Share with us in the comment section.
If you’re looking for a way to keep these goals, check out our post on How to Keep Your Business Goals. You can also contact us for a consultation; we provide support to early and intermediate stage African businesses through our consulting, training and bookkeeping solutions. Here’s what some of our clients have to say. Our goal is to empower businesses like yours by providing them with the tools and knowledge necessary to drive high performance.
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