One thing I learned about business early on was that no matter how you did in a given month, you always start back at zero. The next month rolls around and you cannot count on the same results as you just had. The same holds true for the end of the year too – good or bad, the game starts all over again come January 1st!
Over the last several years this scenario has brought on even more questions to the end of the year planning process. It seems like even when you look to be optimistic, it still pays to be pretty conservative in your projections. I know this year I expected stronger growth, and although it looks like we might still show some nominal growth over last year, it will not be as strong as projected. None the less we did generate some good new growth, which is a real positive!
On the other side though, the concept of starting over has hit me again as I begin to look at marketing efforts and new prospecting plans. Time to again look at the markets we have a strong presence in and see what other organizations we can reach out to. This is always our first step at identifying new leads, although one must also be careful to not get too lopsided – to be so reliant on a given market that you can be susceptible to negative trends.
Another strategy is to identify new markets – ones that fit well within your core services and that you can at least relate to when sharing references or sample projects. Same basic research at a few prospective clients can usually provide you with the confirmation you need to pursue others. A little longer process here, but still within a basic comfort zone for experienced sales people.
Yet a third strategy poses a real unique set of challenges – to look at entirely new markets or revenue streams. I have often thought that each of us in business is really only one good idea away from hitting it big. They key is to find the idea that is also sustainable and relevant for more than just one client. It takes quite a bit of research to go after a new market, and even more to look at a whole new business model. At the same time, to keep doing what you have always done just because you know how to do it will not necessarily keep you relevant. Many businesses and industries have had to learn this over the past few years, and truth be known, we should all keep this is the back of our minds as we start the New Year back at “zero” again – good luck!