It’s great to have a break over Christmas and right about now, we are all really looking forward to it. We get the chance to come back to work in January, feeling refreshed and recharged, ready to face the year ahead. The expectation is that January is a quiet month, not much to do, and the first few weeks of February are all about getting the kids back to school as business slowly gets back to normal. Because of this expectation, not a lot gets done in January.
To me this is a huge lost opportunity. January is the most important month of the year in view, because it is the month where we really get to spend time planning the year ahead. The more we plan, the clearer we are what needs to be done and the more excited and revved about the coming year, the great our chances of success. My real point is – don’t waste January.
What are the things we can do in January to make the most of the year ahead?
1. Reflect on what you did really well last year and what you need to do better in the year ahead
This is simply about learning from our experiences and getting clear about what we need to do more of in the year ahead.
2. Pick a theme for the year
What is the one most important thing that you need to focus on in the year ahead. Get really clear about this, make it your mantra, write it everywhere and make this the first consideration in all that you do.
3. Work out your priorities for the year
It all has to start here – figuring out exactly what your priorities for the year ahead are. These need to be very clear, we need to make sure we write them down and we need to put some thought into them, not just whip up a list over breakfast. What do we want more of in the coming year? What do we want less of? What are our personal goals in amongst the business goals? I suggest coming up with your own, one page priorities plan. I do it every year and it certainly helps to get me focused early on.
4. Map out your marketing activity
Marketing and business development tend to get sidelined early in the New Year. We start off with all the right intention, but as soon as the phone starts going crazy and our inbox fills up, we go back to being reactionary regarding business development as opposed to being proactive. Early in the New Year is the perfect time to develop your plan of attack that is going to spell out exactly how you plan to attract new customers in the year ahead.
5. What material do you need?
Is it time to develop some new promotional material? Maybe revamp your online presence, social media etc. Put some thought into this to make smart decisions now not reactive decisions down the line.
6. Rethink your pricing
Is it time to put your prices up? Can you come up with some creative pricing options? How will you communicate this to your customers?
7. Plan your training for the year
We all need to be developing our skills, both professional and personal. I like to use this time to think about what skill development I need. This is also a great time to do some research to identify what courses or coaching is being offered, to look at dates for training programs and to think about your training budget.
8. Get clear on your customer engagement
Now is the time to work on building your relationships with your existing customers. What is your strategy going to be in the coming year? How are you going to make sure that you hear what they are saying and that you are not just meeting their expectations but exceeding them?
9. What are your personal goals for the year?
We have to have more reasons for doing what we do other than making money. How do you want your life to look in the year ahead, what personal well being and fitness goals do you want to set? How are you going to make your relationships better? How will you reward yourself for achieving your business goals in the year and celebrate your successes?
Don’t let January be a wasted month – spend the time to really map out your year ahead, on every level, and it soon becomes clear that it really is the most important month of the year. Whilst most people are slowly getting their year started, you will hit the ground running and this will have a huge impact on the year you have.