I really don't believe in New Years Resolutions because it never works. We all know what should happen and that is a matter of personal discipline, not wishful thinking. Whether the topic is money, health, or relationships – no epiphany is involved, no moment of insight on the road to Damascus. Everything we need to do is already known. If it takes a contrived date to make you do what you know you should – then whatever works.
Instead, as a business owners, we have New Year's every January 1st and April 1st, July 1st, and October 1st. It is the time to review our actions against the plan, learn what to continue and stop, and act accordingly. I know most solopreneurs are not keen on business planning, but I find it essential to focus energy and drive financial decisions. If there is no plan, how do you evaluate results?
So what ever you call it – based upon current economic conditions - here are my non-resolutions for 2009:
1. Hold my customer base
2. Find more ways of creating value
3. Bring down costs to improve margins
Hold My Customer Base.
During the month of January, I engaged all of my core accounts to find out three things:
- How well did we deliver what was promised?
- When we didn't, how well did we recover – did you win when we failed?
- And what would it take to improve our offer by 25 percent?
During the month of January, utilizing the collected customer data, I upgraded the entire process of how my customer's experiences the business by:
- Mapping the moments of truth – what are all of the touch points where the customer interacts with the business;
- Determining at each touch point the three levels of service – what they take for granted or assumed, what they expect, and what would wow them;
- Testing my assumptions with customers – validate the list of what is assumed, what is expected, and what would wow them.
During the month of January, I reviewed how we make or produce what we sell the customer by:
- Enhancing the moments of truth – what is the performance that will reliably deliver the assumed, expected, and wow level of service at each touch point in the customers experience;
- Looking at the current process to find ways to decrease steps, decrease time, improve quality – the goal is always to produce it better, faster, and for less;
- Bringing the customer inside – find a couple of customers to test the new process with to ensure it is right before you make it how business is done with everyone.
I have built a supportive list of activities and have a couple of job aids if you want to explore these further at Chief Growth Officer. Enjoy, see you online, and have a prosperous 2009.