How to make 2017 your best business year yet

Originally published on VIW Magazine on February 7, 2017.

Millie SwannLet’s face it, you tell yourself not to think about business over the Christmas and New Year period but you’re going to anyway. So, when you do, why not make it productive thinking?

You get to choose, either beat yourself up about all the things that failed, that didn’t get done, that were a disaster or that didn’t deliver what was promised or, reflect on the things that did work and how you can implement them again in 2017.

Receiving helpful advice, which helps you get where you want to be, can be thin on the ground. There are lots of opinions out there, usually from uneducated or inexperienced advisors which can set you on a path of more stress and chaos.

For instance, New Year’s resolutions are the most stupid things ever created. Granted, in the past I’ve used them, but they did not work for me. All I managed to do was break them, leading to frustration, distraction and disappointment.

Each year we go through this ridiculous scenario of just “wishing” into existence a new way of being and we try to forget about the struggles of the past 12 months. This is great for dedicated masochists, but are you looking for a better way?

When I became committed to being in business more than 25 years ago, I started acting differently and embarking on a special planning process almost by accident. I’ve since refined this process and it’s a system I now share with my clients.

Leaders who in the past have felt like there was no way out and who were drowning in chaos and disaster have implemented this system and have subsequently taken themselves out of emotional and financial quagmires seamlessly.

The businesses I work with have some big problems and even bigger bills. The first step they must take is facing and acknowledging the world is changing fast. One year in business is like four years in real life. If you don’t keep up or continuously reinvent your business it will stop dead in its tracks within months. Just have a look this Christmas at some businesses that have either reinvented themselves or collapsed in the last year. There are plenty of examples!

The second step leaders must take is getting rid of five-year plans. When I hear of leaders using five-year- plans, I know they are stuffed before they even start. Staff don’t hang around for more than two years and competitors will eat you up in less than six months so what good is a five-year plan?

You as a leader must start acting differently. If you want productivity and profit from your business you must start making really targeted actions. You must take charge of your business and your life and the key to doing this is implementing this simple, outcome-driven formula.

Firstly, ask yourself “what do I want to do to be different forever and what do I want to stop experiencing in my business.” Start with the biggest thing that frustrates you. Then, do the three things listed below and allow one page answers only.

  1. Reflect – write down all the things that did not work this year.
  2. Reflect again – this time write down the one thing that did work really well (it would have felt too good to be true).
  3. Make a plan to repeat that one thing that did work. Working backwards from 90 days, commit to two week planning blocks to get that outcome again – and then to 30 / 60 / 90 day plans.

Using this process, you will need to allocate which staff will do what in two week blocks and you must commit to the outcome. Learn to say ‘no’ to other distractions.

Critically, you must accept that this process requires checking in every two weeks and if you’ve gone off course, returning to a direction in line with the outcome you want. You will be confronted with problems along the way, but you can readjust to the direction of where you want to go. Better and new opportunities will also arise that will get you the outcome you want quicker.

Think of an aircraft flying; there is a destination where that plane is going and the pilot is always readjusting and redefining how he or she is getting there. Sometimes, there is turbulence or issues which set the plane off course and the pilot readjusts, but sometimes they get a tail wind, which wasn’t planned for, and they get there quicker.

In 2017, aim for outcomes every 90 days instead of making a list of promises to yourself that end up broken. Make this process your way of being. It’s a proven, refined method which has made for some very happy businesses, business leaders, staff and clients.

 

 

Millie Swann is an executive business change strategist and leadership mentor to CEOs, executive decision makers and people who are specialists at what they do. For 25 years she has mentored and provided practical business and personal tools and strategies to business owners throughout Australia and the United States across diverse industries, guiding the growth of SMEs from $500K revenue right through to national companies with more than $100M in turnover.

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