5 steps for a successful business year ahead

A revolving door of political leaders, Royal Commissions, escalating energy prices, a down turn in the housing market, a country in drought… the only constant in 2018 (as the saying goes) was change.

There’s no denying the external business environment in Australia was certainly volatile. But what about your internal business environment – were you able to roll with the punches, evolving and adapting along the way?

With a turbulent year, followed by a (hopefully) relaxing summer break behind you, January is the perfect time to establish what did and didn’t work for you in 2018, and to consider ways of approaching 2019 with renewed vigour, and a clear plan.

If you’re looking for some strategic inspiration to start the year right, try following these five steps from our team of professional business advisors, for a successful 2019.

Step 1: Reflect and set goals

While it might seem cliché, according to the Harvard Business School, it’s impossible to set yourself up for success in 2019 if you don’t learn from 2018’s mistakes.

A working paper by the Harvard Business School, HEC Paris and University of North Carolina shows that reflecting on what you’ve done teaches you to do it better next time – boosting your performance.

“Now more than ever we seem to be living lives where we’re busy and overworked, and our research shows that if we’d take some time out for reflection, we might be better off,” they said.

Once you’ve taken some time for reflection, you then need to set some goals (and no, we’re not talking post-Christmas healthy eating resolutions!)

Wendy Osefo, a Professor at John Hopkins University, says that if you aren’t working toward improvement, you might reach a professional standstill, no matter the month.

“You don’t want to get stuck on a hamster wheel at work,” she says.

“You want to keep pushing yourself to reach your full potential. Setting goals keeps you motivated to achieve more, depending on what is important to you.”

Step 2: Check in with your business plan

Business plans are living, breathing documents that need to be reviewed, and adjusted on a frequent basis.

Taking stock of changes in the business environment in 2018 might allow you to uncover new business opportunities, or threats that need to be explored.

Also, check in and see where your business fits in the market. Review your target markets, customers and competitors – are there any gaps in the market, or new competitors to be aware of?

January is the perfect time to do this – it will allow you to hit the ground running in 2019, prepped and primed for success.

3. Organise your business processes and records

Is your workspace feeling disorganised?  Are you getting the timely information you need to run your business?

Take some time in January to make sure all your business processes and records are in order. It’s a simple way to start the year with a clean slate (literally) – and it doesn’t have to be a chore if you’ve got the right systems in place.

Business.gov.au has some great record keeping tips for small business owners. If you’re a growing or mid-to-large sized business, you might think about investing in online tools if you haven’t already. You can always speak to a Bentleys advisor to help determine what system is best for your business.

We know it can be a painstaking task, but trust us – you’ll thank yourself when EOFY rolls around!

4. Upskill

As your business evolves and grows, so should you.

Whether it’s discovering all the functionalities of the CRM installed last year, researching new management structures for your business or understanding the latest digital marketing trend, making sure you’re appropriately knowledgeable in all areas of your business is a must.

This could range from watching a TED Talk, taking a free online course, reading a business journal, or perhaps even taking the plunge and enrolling in a formal qualification.

5. Innovate

Returning to work fresh and renewed after a summer break puts you in a great headspace to review and improve your current processes, products and services, and find ways to innovate.

While you’ve got some time up your sleeve, why not research predicted business trends for the year, and assess any trends that could be viable for your business? A great resource is the Forbes ‘The top 10 business trends that will drive success’ list released in early December each year.

This list features the big moves that leading companies around the world are making to drive success.

Business.gov.au also has a useful innovation page, with resources to help your business develop a strategy for innovation.

No matter your business goals, Bentley’s will help you get where you want to be. Find your local office today to kick-start your business success in 2019.