Start Preparing for 2016 NOW: Gain Momentum Heading Into Next Year
It’s now December 2015 (wow that’s crazy to think about!) and we have one month left in the year. While New Year Resolutions typically get all the rage around this time, this year I’ve been trying something much different so I can hit 2016 with serious momentum. Why wait to get started on getting better at a mostly arbitrary point of time?
Personally, it’s the beginning of week 7 of sticking to a legit workout/training regime. I’ve been working on improving my Spanish almost daily in the same amount of time as well. And, I just relaunched my new website and blog. Sure I could’ve waited until January 1 to begin, but why when now is the perfect time to begin getting better (or even better: yesterday).
Of course that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy the holidays and indulge in the parties, family time, and especially great food and drinks. However, you should simultaneously begin planning for next year as well, both personally and professionally (this post will stick to the “professionally” part). Otherwise January 1st is going to smack you in the face with the inevitable onset of panic and regret.
Here is my list of the top 5 things to consider, plan for, and think about implementing in your business, etc. for next year. Of course there are about a million others, but for brevity’s sake (if you’re into the whole brevity thing) I’ll keep it short so you can get back to your holiday shenanigans.
This may seem obvious but cash, checks, and credit cards aren’t the only way to pay for things, nor to get paid for the products and services your business provides. Electronic currency is extremely convenient and safe. For example, it’s quite common that I get paid for a project via PayPal (whether via their PayPal account or their credit card), and subsequently pay a company expense via my PayPal debit card or by transferring immediately afterwards. All this without having to deal with a bank in the middle or crazy credit card transaction fees.
There are also a ton of benefits in using Venmo, Square, Apple Pay, etc. Lastly, while it may take a little more time to yet to go mainstream, I’d also be thinking about how to implement BitCoin into your business as well.
CRM & Marketing Automation
I’ve been preaching this one for years now, yet people still keep pushing it off because of the perception of extremely high costs both monetarily and in resource allocation. Sure a well implemented and administered CRM and Marketing Automation program remains a relatively expensive investment. But the cost of not utilizing these tools is even greater, and the ROI more than makes up for it.
While you may not want to admit it, your competitors most likely have a program either operational or at least in the works. Soon just having one isn’t going to be enough to remain competitive either, as economies of scale will be reached and adjustments will be made. There are approaches and methods to get a program implemented in a cost effective manner, and I’d love to be your resource to show you how.
Content Marketing: Video in Particular
Content marketing includes your blog, social media posts, ebooks, how-to guides, white papers, podcasts, etc. (You do have a content marketing strategy, right?) All of these will remain extremely valuable in 2016 of course and leveraging them is still a great marketing strategy, however the one that will continue to trump them all is video. Again, this isn’t anything new, however the impact of video is going to continue growing even more. Whether you begin leveraging 6 second Vine clips, hour long webinars, or 20 minute “fireside chat” videos like my boy Gary V, you really need to think of creative ways to incorporate videos into your 2016 strategy.
I’ll admit this hasn’t been a strong suit of mine in the past either, which is why I made it my mission to partner up with an excellent team to not only deliver video services to my clients, but for my personal/WIMS, Inc. 2016 video content strategy as well.
Online: Improve Mobile
You most likely already have a website, and maybe you’ve even incorporated some SEO to the back end as well. You’re absolutely set now right? Not quite. The numbers showing how many people are now solely viewing website content on their mobile devices is staggering. Fortunately, most website publishing and template companies like WordPress and Wix come with complementary mobile optimization capabilities. But if you created your website a long time ago, or if you haven’t tested your mobile site recently there may still be some issues. It’s well worth getting this right now.
Extending this further is the still growing world of mobile apps. I won’t say that you absolutely need to create an app right now for your business to survive, but if you can identify potential value in having one then it’s at least worth exploring. Costs to create them have been significantly reduced due to economies of scale and improved technique. There’s even a free tool called Yapp that allows you to build a bare-bones version of an app, and it’s definitely worth taking a look.
Operations: Reduce Costs; Increase Productivity & Sales
You may think you’re already operating on a bare bones budget, and perhaps you are. But there are always areas to cut back on, especially for mid-large professional services firms. The biggest area is human resources, and by extension the overhead to support it. You may love having an in-house marketing department and beautiful office space for vanity purposes. In reality though, rather than allocating such extensive resources that aren’t very efficient you could pay for work output and space as needed, rather than 24/7 in the form of salaries, benefits and a huge office location. You can dramatically reduce costs while improving efficiency and productivity, which in turn will increase revenue and profit margins. There obviously isn’t one perfect way to go about this but it certainly worth thinking about objectively.
Hopefully you’ll find at least one or two, if not all of these insights valuable as you begin winding down the year and preparing for next year. If nothing else I hope they at least get you thinking and the wheels turning. The main thing I want to reiterate is to not forget your goals and lose focus for an entire month. There are 31 days left to do great work, crush some of your lingering goals, and hit 2016 with serious momentum. I guarantee you won’t wake up on January 1st regretting that you did.
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