Six Steps To Finishing 2019 Strong After A Long Summer
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In the UAE, summer 2019 virtually started with an early Ramadan in May, which was followed by the break for Eid al-Fitr, and then the summer holidays from school, and continued with the Eid al-Adha break that happened in mid-August.
With the summer now close to its end, the professionals of the UAE are returning to business. Now is the season when we all begin staring down the barrel of a crucial Q4, and wonder where the first eight months of the year have gone.
It may seem like one quarter of the year has been spent following up with clients who are not in the country, chasing payments from absentee signatories, and hearing a constant barrage of conversations ending with: “Let’s pick this conversation up after…”
Now, it’s time to suit up, and figure out what we need to do to kick business into high gear- and salvage the remaining few months of the year. Here’s how you can go about doing just that:
1. Reevaluate your 2019 business goals and strategy Remember that beautiful document that you prepared at the end of 2018 with your revenue projections, cashflows, marketing strategy, and vision for 2019? The future always looks bright on that shiny, carefully calculated, lofty -yet achievable- game plan.
When was the last time you dusted it off- and measured your current progress with your expected results?
Every year, we create award-winning game plans, but in reality, we tend to get sucked back into the same routines that we’ve always known. This is a recipe for producing a 2019 that looks frustratingly similar to 2018.
Now is the time to review your 2019 keys to success, and decipher whether there’s room for improvement in the strategy itself, or simply in your execution of the strategy.
2. Create a new plan with achievable targets An astounding 80% of New Year’s resolutions are said to fail by February.
This statistic has always troubled me, as I’ve never understood how we can write off a 12-month goal by the second month of the year.
Strategies are dynamic- which means they evolve with new information, new data, economic feedback, and unforeseen circumstances that are inevitable in any business over a 12-month period.
If you’re on track to achieving the targets you set eight months ago, bravo. If not, it is important to evaluate whether the remaining four months of 2019 are sufficient to make up for lost time, or if you simply need to set new goals to ensure you’re chasing realistic targets that drive your business forward in a positive direction.
3. Learn from the past According to Robert Kiyosaki, the best way to predict the future is to study the past. Take time now to reflect on what went right this year, and what went wrong. This involves looking at questions like:
- Which clients seemed receptive to your offerings, and which clients were more difficult to convince?
- Which services were your most profitable?
- Which services were the biggest wins?
- Which services were the quickest wins?
- Which marketing material and channels seem to create the most value?
- What obstacles genuinely stand in between your goal and your current results?
Do not limit this reflection to 2019 only. Review previous years in your business, and search for patterns of success and failures.
4. Align marketing and business development initiatives With a clear idea of the new 2019 targets, as well as a better understanding of progress to date, we can begin building our sales funnels around our learnings.
Follow the 80/20 rule: 20% of your clients will generate 80% of your revenue. If you only focus on securing those “20%” clients, then you are likely to only achieve 80% of your targets. However, if you do not focus on those clients at all, you are likely to only achieve 20% of your targets!
Identify your highest-value prospects and begin nurturing those relationships early. If your sales cycle is less than four months, there should be no problem in closing the big fish by the end of the year.
Ensure your marketing campaigns are focused and targeted towards your ideal audience, and your sales team is ready to cater their approach accordingly.
5. Assess cash flows Businesses are allowed to have down months, and even loss-making months throughout their lifespan. Unfortunately, however, businesses can only run out of cash once.
If your revenue is far below 2019 projections, it’s of paramount importance to evaluate cash flow. To compensate for lower income, study your balance sheet, and search for quick wins to increase assets and liquidity, while decreasing liabilities.
Some quick wins include:
- Crack down on aged cash receivables
- Tighten the purse strings on unnecessary expenses
- Renegotiate contracts with suppliers and landlords
- Review monthly subscriptions
- Closely monitor petty cash abuse
Depending on how dire the business’s current financial situation is, there may also be a need to downsize staff, office, sell unused equipment and furniture, or even narrow scope of services.
6. Begin visualizing your 2020 strategy For those of us who regard finishing 2019 strong as an important goal, it is safe to assume we still have plans to continue operations in 2020. This means that we are likely to begin creating our 2020 strategy within the next four months.
By visualizing what we hope to achieve in 2020, we are able to plan the remainder of 2019 around supporting that vision.
Calculate what figures you need to produce in January 2020 in order to accomplish your 2020 goals, and work backwards to realize the sort of activity and results that are needed in the next four months to enter 2020 on the right track.
Remember, running a business is a marathon- not a series of successes and failures. It is our responsibility as business owners to ensure the survival and growth of our businesses in order to provide maximum value to the market, our shareholders, and our employees.
Learning from successes as well as failures means that every day, we are in a better position to create an environment of growth and opportunity.