Clare Rayner: New Year – New Focus!

Rayner on Christmas sales

The New Year is always a time to set goals and plan ahead. Like the New Year’s resolutions we make for our personal lives, we can do the same for our business. Certainly over the past few years I’ve found myself sitting down on New Year Day, taking stock of the year that has passed and considering what I want to change looking ahead.

If you want to refine your business, with a New Year new focus mentality, then I can share my own approach and perhaps this could be something you can apply to your business to.

Firstly I look at all the activities I am doing. I look at what activities drive most revenue or profit vs which take up time and effort but are less productive financially. I also consider what I enjoy doing and what I dislike.

With this rough analysis I can immediately categorise activities into the stuff I want to ditch (unproductive, unprofitable or unpleasant) and the stuff I want to do more of (productive, profitable, and enjoyable).

This helps me to define my focus for the year ahead. Of course, it would be all too simple to just assume we can “ditch” things we don’t enjoy. Those activities may be essential for the smooth running of the business, or for legal / financial compliance. So, I look at HOW I can delegate / outsource or otherwise “move” the activities away from my to-do list when I’m not able to literally ditch them!

When you review your business try using the following headings:

  • Clearing the dead wood – what do you need to do in order to offload the “stuff” that consumes your time, energy and effort for little or no reward?
  • Opportunities / Streamlining – where can you focus your new-found time (from clearing the dead wood) to either explore new opportunities or to streamline your business, making it more profitable, more productive and less effort?
  • Goals and Milestones – what targets/goals or milestones can you set yourself relating to the 2 above points, so that you know you are making progress and feel a sense of achievement?

If you can define a plan, with dates and deadlines for when you’ll have completed tasks in either of the 2 categories, then it will give you something to work towards. Make sure you give yourself a realistic timeframe for the activities you have in mind – you don’t want to end up losing your motivation because you feel like you’ve failed to achieve, when in fact you were over ambitious in your plan! Similarly, don’t be too easy on yourself – these activities will make your working life more profitable, more enjoyable – that’s got to be worth SOME hard work! Keep a little pressure on yourself because the important things in life always require a bit more effort!

Finally, remember all the reasons WHY you’re in business – reflect on if you’ve got the work-life balance you wanted. Take stock of that, because your business should be affording you more freedom, more flexibility and more enjoyment than traditional employment could offer. If you’ve fallen out of love with your business, then you need to get back on track and find your passion for it again. Maybe you’re spending too much time on tasks you simply don’t enjoy – maybe you’re bogged down in activities that prevent you from attaining your goals…

Whatever the issues, as the business owner you need to invest in yourself. So, spending a day, even if just once a year, coming up for air, stepping back, and really thinking things through can be the best therapy and time very well spent! With a clear plan for the year ahead you’ll find yourself fired up, full of your original passion, drive and enthusiasm, AND with the motivation to make it happen.

If you want more help analysing your business, defining your action plan, and taking steps toward a more profitable future then obviously I would recommend reading my book, 10-steps to retail success. This will walk you through a full appraisal of your retail business, helping you to define your own unique action plan that takes you from where you are to where you want to be!

Good luck, and here’s to a prosperous and profitable New Year 2016!