Planning Ahead: 5 Steps to Dominating in Business in 2014

Get a head start on accomplishing everything you need to take your startup to the next level -- and beyond.

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By Lewis Howes Originally published Oct 29, 2013

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

This year is speeding by and 2014 is just around the corner. While many people wait until New Year's to get their personal and professional lives in order and create the change that they know was long overdue, you shouldn't have to. It is, after all, true that delay is the greatest form of denial.

Make changes early so that you're way ahead of the game next year with these five easy steps to prepare for dominating in business:

1. Set action-oriented goals early, not on New Year's Eve.
Goal setting should be part of your daily and weekly routines, and should not be based on a calendar year or month. In 2014, don't make New Year's resolutions based on what you promise to stop doing or a change in your behaviors. Instead, set goals today as to what new actions you will make to get you closer to your desired outcome.

By setting actionable goals that move you forward, you move toward your goals rather than simply stopping behaviors that leave you at a standstill.

Related: Tips for Delivering Kickass Business Presentations

2. Understand the plan to disrupt your industry.
Before you can change your industry positively, you need to understand how to go about doing so. One of the benefits of starting early is the opportunity to look ahead and finish your planning before 2014 actually begins.

Look for ways to stand out next year from your competitors. Reflect back on 2013 and see what lessons you learned that you could leverage today to prepare you for a strong disruption of your competitors in 2014.

Consider what everyone in the industry is saying or, more importantly, how they are saying it. Is it coming across too lightly or maybe too strong? Is there a way you can get ultra targeted with your audience so they feel and hear your message over any of your competitors?

Disruption starts with committing to excellence and taking a stand for your customer.

3. Leverage partnerships.
Partnerships matter, even more so if you plan to dominate your market. Creating the right partnerships takes time and requires multiple conversations before formalizing. Why not use the rest of this year to solidify three partnerships that can help you take over in 2014?

There are literally hundreds of companies waiting for you to contact them, because your product or service can add some extra value to their clientele. Greatness in business is about blowing your customers' expectations away. How can you position your business to partner with a company that can help them wow their customers?

Related: 3 Reasons Success Isn't All It's Cracked Up to Be

4. Create immense value for others.
Before the year is over, there is still time to ensure that everyone in your life who has invested in your success in 2013 gets a refresher on how important they are in your life. Take the next two months to create immense value for those closest to you by ensuring they themselves are prepared for 2014.

Here is a little secret: If there is something that you truly want next year -- such as more money, more support or an amazing mentor -- go out and give it away. If you want an amazing mentor, be a mentor for someone else. You would be surprised how much you learn from giving and be surprised how the laws of reciprocity eventually work in your favor.

By taking initiative and creating value for them, you are almost guaranteed that they will create even more value for your support in 2014.

5. Leave your doubts behind.
Next year could be the very best year of life. It's up to you to make it so.

Use these next couple of months to reflect upon and eliminate any doubts you have left, to conquer in 2014. Your belief needs to be stronger than ever and your proactive approach needs to be solidified now. This means being able to be honest with yourself today and face your fears by preparing even more.

The more confident you are, the less doubt you will have and the more likely your success will be.

Each year that comes and goes is only going to be as great as you make it. Don't confine yourself to the boundaries of a calendar or preoccupy yourself with the idea that you have to beat your competitor. Focus now and into next year on making sure each day is better than the previous one.

Related: 5 Branding Tips to Supercharge Your Sales

Lewis Howes

New York Times Bestselling Author, Entrepreneur, Coach

Lewis Howes is a New York Times bestselling author of The School of Greatness and The Mask of Masculinity. He is a lifestyle entrepreneur, high performance business coach and keynote speaker. A former professional football player and two-sport All-American, he is a current USA Men’s National Handball Team athlete. He hosts a top 100 iTunes ranked Apple podcast, The School of Greatness. Howes was recognized by the White House and President Obama as one of the top 100 entrepreneurs in the country under 30. Details magazine called him one of “5 Internet Guru’s that can Make You Rich.”  Howes has been featured on Ellen, Good Morning America, The Today Show, The New York Times, People, ESPN, Sports Illustrated, Men’s Health and other major media outlets.

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