It's January 2020. New decade. New opportunities. Now all we have to do is take advantage of them, right?
We all know that taking advantage of opportunities will take effort. And I'd like to focus our effort in the right place.
Sounds like a good time for some introspection.
Here are the four questions I'm thinking through for A Brave New this January. I hope you'll find them helpful for your business as well.
Where do we need to stop pushing and rethink?
One the major challenges we have as an agency is scheduling interviews with subject matter experts for the content we create. Why? Because every SME is busy doing their job. Supporting their company's marketing on a consistent basis isn't high on their list. And as a result, they're usually what hangs up a project.
This is a perfect example of where we needed to stop pushing forward like we always have and think differently. Last year, my co-founder and our chief strategist Polly did just that. What she came up with was a quarterly interview day in which we conduct video interviews with every SME we need background info for the next three months of content. We're happy when we can do this because there aren't delays in the content production process. The SME is happy because they don't have to hear from us for another three months. Everybody wins.
Do you have problem points like this for your business? Is your inclination to just push harder and hope everything gets better? If so, it's probably time to pause and rethink.
Where are we trapped in the prison of good intentions?
We all have good intentions in conversation or at the beginning of a project. But there's a problem. Follow through is a lot more work than identifying a problem that need to be solved, or taking advantage of huge opportunity that will require some work.
Think through the areas where you said "we should fix that" last year. I bet four or five things immediately come to mind. Why? Because they're brought up consistently and no one's fixed them yet.
The new year is a great time to start making progress on some of these items.
For me the best way to do this is time blocking. I literally block my calendar. If it's a solo project, I'll turn off my email and spend that time developing a solution. If it's a complex problem that will require some intense collaboration, we'll set up a working session where everyone can roll your sleeves up and actually fix the problem.
Do this enough times and you'll start seeing issues get solved and feel the sense of tangible progress. It will feel amazing.
Where have we lost sight of the end goal?
Do you have a 3-year vision for your business or your team? If so, now's a good time to identify what you're doing that's antithetical to that goal. Be honest. You probably know what I'm talking about.
One good example for us as an agency is our own marketing. It's embarrassing to say but we just don't focus enough time on it. If we want to achieve our 3-year vision for the agency, we need to be better. No better time than the present.
You might also need to stop doing something. For me, that's most often checking my email right when I get into the office. I know that my day is going to get away from me but for some reason I willfully distract myself first thing when I should focus on the 1-3 things that must happen that morning to keep my business moving forward in the right strategic direction.
Where do we need to increase our efficiency?
We always want to add; more people, new software, more budget, more meetings. Rarely do we step back and take the time to consider if we could solve our perceived resource constraints by being more efficient.
This year try something different. The next time you feel the temptation to add, try asking how you could simplify, automate, or templatize instead.
Each of these questions are based off a simple principle: if we work smarter rather than hard, we can get to our goals faster. The new year is a good time to step back and take stock. As an entrepreneur and business leader you'll always have too much to do. To succeed, you need to work on the right things. I hope these questions will help you do just that.