It's January, and that means New Years resolutions. But beyond the general losing weight, spending more time with family and other general personal goals, have you made any plans for your electrical contracting business yet this year? If not, it's definitely the time.However, just as January means resolutions, the rest of the year is often focused on looking back and feeling bad about breaking those resolutions. In fact, only 8% of people keep their resolutions. How do you improve the odds that your personal and business resolutions will remain well past the cold of January? Here are some tips to help you succeed.
Where are you going with your electrical business?
Make a plan.“Failing to plan is planning to fail,” is one of my favorite quotes from kite-flying Ben Franklin. It's also very true at its very core. When you first started your business, you probably developed a business plan, but when's the last time you revised it or took it out to compare it to where you're at today? By making a plan in the quiet early months of the year, you'll have a guide when your work load becomes frantic later in the year.
- Update your business plan very thoroughly at least once a year. Look at your annual figures, create new projections based on past performance, decide what needs to stay the same and what needs to change to meet your goals.
- Look at your new projections and compare them to your goals. How far off are you from what you could expect to see? Once you have the projections, make sure that your goal is still reasonable
- Include operational changes as part of the plan. If you'll need to spend more time or hire someone to take care of the LinkedIn profile, that must be added to the plan, including projected expenses for additional time or costs.
- Don't forget to include your marketing plan as part of your overall business plan. It's very easy to simply renew an ad in the phone book or keep putting out the same tired blog over and over again. Any increase in your expected business will have a related increase in marketing needs.
Set SMART goals.We often set goals at the end of each year without focusing on how they'll be reached, what the end result should be and how long it will take. Setting a goal such as wanting to grow your business this year doesn't really give you any solid direction to work towards. On the other hand, setting a goal that you want to grow your profits by 15% over standard growth by increasing your use of LinkedIn over the next six months is a much more reasonable goal to pursue. This is because it meets a particular set of objectives, often referred to as SMART goals because of the acronym used to convey the major points:
- S: It's very specific. It states exactly what will happen and how it will take place. Vague goals such as growing a business don't provide any real direction, so it's easy to get lost in the bigger picture.
- M: It can be measured. Having a specific measurement, such as 15%, gives you a yardstick to measure your progress against. This lets you see how well the plan is going and make adjustments as needed.
- A: It's agreeable to everyone in charge. If your entire management team isn't willing to work towards this goal, it won't happen. That doesn't mean it has to be perfect for everyone, but it does need to be agreeable.
- R: It's realistic. A 15% increase in profits is probably a reasonable goal to aim for. If, on the other hand, you expect to double your profits in a single year, you're probably going to give up and not see much improvement at all.
- T: It has a time limit. We all have things we're going to do “someday”. Much like a measurement, a time constraint gives you a way to measure progress. If the progress isn't moving quickly enough, a time constraint helps you decide when to change gears.
Set a schedule.As you set your goals, you'll need to divide them up into smaller tasks until you're left with actionable tasks that you can work towards on a daily, weekly or monthly process. You'll want to spread those tasks across the timeframe you've estimated for the overall goal.
- Break down tasks into smaller chunks if they're too overwhelming. Instead of spending 10 hours a month on LinkedIn to grow your business, it may be easier to break it down into 30 minutes a day.
- Use your down time. When is your business really slow? Take advantage of that time to work ahead. Look at new projects that you can bid on, take care of maintenance tasks or schedule social media posts that can be automatically posted on your busier days.
- Put the tasks in your calendar. Whether it's a desk pad or on your phone, add these tasks, with reminders if needed, to ensure you continue making progress.
- Set times to review your progress and reschedule tasks as needed. Once a week or month, stop and see what you've accomplished and what still needs to happen. If you've missed some necessary tasks, add them back into your schedule.