With just 60 days to go until we exchange 2018 for 2019, it’s certainly not too soon to think about how we want to do business in the new year. We have many options to consider. We can continue doing essentially what we have been doing. We can restructure or repurpose our business. We can expand it (in services or geography). We can change how we perform our services. We can totally reinvent ourselves.
Indeed, many possibilities and choices. So which direction do we choose, and how do we make that determination?
Let’s start by looking over our shoulder (or in the rearview mirror, if that makes more sense) to see where we have been this year. What has worked, and what hasn’t gone as well as we had planned? Did we serve the right number of clients, too few, or too many (not perhaps in terms of revenue but in view of being overly busy to work with everyone in the way that we would like)? How did we attract our leads and clients? Did we invest too little money, about the right amount, or too much in advertising, pay per click, website development, home shows, flyers, referral fees, and other forms of marketing, publicity, and lead attraction?
Each business is different, and what works for one may be totally inappropriate for another. SOme are going to get all or most of their business from referrals produced through strategic relationships and referring partners that have been created in the past. While much effort, time, and even money have gone into creating those relationships, there is little direct expense associated with procuring those leads right now. Maintaining and even enhancing this process for the new year may be what is desired as the preferred business plan.
For newer businesses or those transitioning into new delivery systems, a strategetic network may not exist yet. Growing it and building it up to the point that it can produce the sales volume desired may be the chief objective for the new year. Until that happens, however, other means of marketing the business are going to have to be used.
Finding business is important, but before we can do that effectively, we have to determine exactly what it is that we provide, how much we typically charge, and what geographic area we serve. Then we can go all- in and best the best in our market. We can get word-of-mouth referrals, testimonials, and other professionals to come along and help us.
Remember that we are not trying to be all things to all people. We can’t do six-figure renovations or construction projects and also do four-figure ones. The difference in the quality of the finishes and materials, the expectation level of the clients, and the experience of the crews and subs that we use need to match and be consistent with the price point and specific neighborhood we find ourselves serving. We have a choice, and we should make that determination before advertising and trying to secure a job that is outside of our comfort area – higher or lower.
Yes, money is money, but so is our reputation. If we attempt to perform services in an area or scope that is not well-suited to our strengths, we will be doing a disservice to our clients, the public in general, ourselves, our business, and those who work with us as employees, strategic partners, independent contractors, or referring professionals.
If we have been relatively satisfied with the level of services we have been providing this year (and possibly in previous years as well), the average size of the job, the general time it takes to complete the job, the number of people needed to complete the project, and our sense that there are plenty more opportunities such as these available, we need to make sure that people are aware of what we do so that we can keep busy doing what we love doing and helping those who can benefit from what we offer.
Conversely, if there are some aspects of our business that we want to change or make stronger, now is the time to make those adjustments so that 2019 can be a more productive, fulfilling year for us and the ones we are going to be serving. If we need more help (employees, virtual assistants, contractors, marketing or website firms, or consultants) – or more education and knowledge – now is the time to begin locating these individuals, companies, and other resources so that we have time to formulate our strategy and launch our effort going into the new year.
We all are busy, and there is plenty of work that needs to be done along with people to serve, but every day that passes without strengthening, expanding, or taking the positive steps to maintain our businesses, we are going to missing a part of the market that needs our help.