It's the Friday before your holiday vacation, and you're pushing through everything on your to-do list: finishing fourth-quarter reporting, prepping for tax time right around the corner, and even buying that last-minute Christmas gift on your lunch break. Your planned week off from work and desire to relax over your holiday break motivate you to keep going.
You're likely familiar with the "hurry up then rest" that December brings. During this somewhat chaotic race to the end-of-the-year finish line, it can be difficult to start thinking about how you'll prepare for your next race. You want your business to see success in the new year, but you haven't decided what strategies are most essential to helping you get there.
If you're feeling overwhelmed by the very thought, remember that you don't have to strategies in place for the entire year just yet. Try focusing on just the first quarter of the year to lessen your anxiety. You can always revisit the strategies you're focusing on to see what shifts need to be made going into the second quarter of the year.
To home in on what strategies can bolster your business success in 2019, start with the following three. These essentials could even carry you from the first quarter all the way through the fourth.
1. Don't beat them, join them.
Don't view your competitors as the enemy. Instead, consider ways that collaborating with your competitors is good for your business or industry. For instance, craft brewer Sierra Nevada recently shared the company's dry hopping techniques with fellow members of the Master Brewers Association of the Americas. Instead of closely guarding its trade secrets, the company acknowledged it doesn't have all the answers and encouraged feedback from other passionate beer makers. The result is better beer and stronger sales for the whole industry.
Alternatively, if you see a competitor providing a better solution, you could consider acquiring it rather than blowing your budget trying to beat it. According to Scott Kitun, CEO of Technori and host of The Startup Showcase on WGN Radio, leaders should admit when a competitor has eclipsed them. "Once the pride swallowing is out of the way, you can see these areas as opportunities," he says. "After all, it's always better to let others try and fail with a small investment on your part than take on the project yourself and lose the entire budget." Microsoft saw success with this approach when it bought StorSimple, bringing the cloud-based storage company's technologies under the tech giant's umbrella.
2. Depend on data.
Data is vital to companies that want to develop new products and services. Data can show you spending patterns and other trends in your industry, and it allows you to study the needs of your customers and then determine the best way to fulfill them. For instance, Amazon/Whole Foods uses big data analytics to better understand how customers buy groceries and what further changes the company should consider making to increase the value customers see.
Taking better advantage of data could really drive improvements to your products and services. In fact, offering a data-powered service could even be the change your business needs. For instance, consider how Mint and TomTom use data. The online money management service analyzes user transactions to inform the budgeting advice it offers customers, while the navigation products vendor parses user data to give its customers real-time traffic updates. As you go into 2019, encourage everyone from your product development team to your marketing team to consider how data can improve what you have to offer.
3. Sell your company (not literally).
In the past, HR could get away with recruitment efforts that focused on making the candidate sell him- or herself as a good fit for the company rather than the other way around. Given today's record-low unemployment rates and the skills gaps that exist in several industries, though, that's no longer the status quo. To get the new hires you want in 2019, you'll need to market your company to candidates like you would market your products and services to customers.
The recruitment process could be someone's first impression of your company. You want to paint an accurate picture of your company's goals, culture, etc., while highlighting your biggest differentiators as an employer. Consider how tech can help you accomplish this. HiredScore, for instance, uses AI to match people in a candidate pool to open positions at your company, helping to ensure the best match for both parties.
Whether you're Google or a small business, success isn't guaranteed for any organization. With deliberate intention, you must find the strategies that work best for your team. These three strategies are a good place to start for any company that's looking to end 2019 in a better place than it began.