Here are ten things that you should do before the end of the year to put your company on the right track for growth in 2013.
December is a busy time in our personal and business lives, but it's an important time to take stock of your growth plan and prepare your business for the coming year.
Shortly after New Year's, most of us will go back into execution mode and shift our focus to the next meeting or organizational crisis. The end of the year, therefore, is a good time to step back and ensure you have the right foundation in place. There are a number of things you can do now, without a significant time investment, that will put your business in a better position for growth.
1. Finalize your 2013 goals, financial targets, and budget.
Don't wait until January to do this. With the new year's priorities, you run the risk of dragging strategic planning into Q1 and even Q2. If that happens, you have less time to focus the business on achieving these goals.
2. Choose your key priorities for the first quarter.
Most people can't focus on more than a few things at once. If you have more than three to five priorities, make a plan to delegate or shift some lower-tier priorities accordingly. Think of it this way: If you can't devote at least one day a week to something, it's hard to make it a priority.
3. Make an action plan to get to know your customers better.
Make a commitment in 2013 to learn more about your customers' needs, goals, and objectives, and why they choose you over other suppliers or alternatives.
4. Run an ROI exercise on your business.
Do a back-of-the-envelope calculation to understand what you spend on various people, activities, and initiatives. Estimate what you get in return, or what you expect to get over the long run.
5. Send a thank you note to your key employees, customers, and business partners.
Explain to them how much they help you achieve your goals.
6. Visualize your 3 to 5-year goal.
What will you have to accomplish in 2013 to ensure that you meet your longer-term objectives?
7. Pick one item that is a distraction and create a plan to eliminate it.
Focus creates success.
8. Identify people on your team who do not share your organizational values and goals and make a plan to remove or replace them.
Are there people on your team who make your organization worse rather than better? Are there people who drag down the morale and effectiveness of the rest of the team? As critical as these people may be to your organization, you need to create a plan to either get them on board or take them off the team in 2013.
9. Review your operating agreement.
The end of the year is a good time to ensure that you have sound contingency plans if something changes with your business or management team in the coming year. It's always easier to have this in place before an event forces you to come up with a plan.
10. Get some rest and reward yourself.
It's going to be a long and fun ride in 2013. Get ready to kick some ass.
KARL STARK AND BILL STEWART are managing directors and co-founders of Avondale, a strategic advisory firm focused on growing companies. Avondale, based in Chicago, is a high-growth company itself and is a two-time Inc. 500 honoree. @karlstark