At a key point during the year – end of your financial year, calendar year, or at another time to suit you – you need to reflect on what has gone well and what could be improved. Obviously this is something for the whole board to tackle, but as the CEO it helps if you have already got your own thoughts on this.
So, once you’ve done that, let’s look at what you need to do with that information…
Let’s tackle the stuff that didn’t go so well first:
Your least favourite customer? Unless you can honestly say it’s your fault and you can rectify the problem, it’s time to let them go. You don’t need to work with customers you don’t enjoy working with.
And it will give you more head space to start looking for the customers you really want.
Your marketing white elephant and least successful marketing campaign? Ditch them. Yup – again, unless you can hold your hand up and know you did something wrong which caused them to fail, then stop beating yourself up about them, get rid and move on.
For now, just leave them behind you. You can always revisit it another day, if you really want to.
Your biggest time suck? Ditch it or delegate. Yes, it really is that simple. If you truly can’t do either of those things, then you need to find a way to make yourself or the task more efficient. But we vote for ditch or delegate!
Your least successful product or service? That’s a bit more tricky. Instinctively, having got this far into this post you may already be leaning towards getting rid of it, but we suggest at the moment you put it on the back burner.
Don’t be too hasty – after all with some tweaking, or improved marketing, it could turn into a very profitable part of your business. But don’t worry about that right now, just put it on hold.
To summarise: Ditch or park all those parts of the past business year you’d rather forget. That’s part of your business plan for next year.
And on to what went well:
In essence, you are going to do more of that in the next year.
But when looking at your best customer, supplier or lead generator, you need to know why they are the best. Is it because they are easy to deal with, the most profitable, generate the most business for you? What you are really trying to do here, is identifying the DNA of this success.
And the reason?
You want to replicate that success. You want to clone your best customer, best supplier etc, so you improve your business, and spread your risk.
Never rely on one lead generation tool, or have too much of your business heavily reliant on one customer – the risk is too great.
We think that’s probably enough brain power for one day (well it is for us, anyway!), but we will unpick different aspects of this in more detail over the next few months.