In fact I have largely given up on making any sort of new year’s resolutions or predictions. Resolutions do not tend to last very long, and predictions are just too obvious, lucky, or plain wrong.
Instead I spent my holiday lounging by the pool, swigging ice cold beer, drenched in Caribbean sunshine. And then I started thinking.
I thought about the things that went well in 2012. We achieved higher turnover with lower costs, had a record number of client referrals, were retail distribution review-ready ahead of time, and had fee agreements in place for all our clients. Sitting by the pool I watched the RDR deadline pass without a hitch. I ordered another beer to celebrate.
My thoughts also turned to things that could have been better. Things such as the amount of time spent on activities that distracted me from the bigger picture, or money spent on things that generated little reward, and occasionally not seeing the wood for the trees. On the whole things look better at the end of the year than they did at the beginning. But I wondered whether I should revise my current business plan or perhaps, as the chancellor does, have a pre-budget statement.
And so having given up on new year’s resolutions and predictions, I started forecasting and reworking the existing plan instead. Action rather than procrastination will be the order of the day, especially during January. And so my revised business plan, scribbled on the back of a napkin while sitting by the pool, looks something like this.
Focus. I am not all things to all people, so get greater clarity about the services I provide, and who they are best suited to. Turn everything else away.
Leverage. Spend more time working on the business, and find other talented people to work in the business. Remember, working on the business does not have to occur in the office, get out more. Create high-value services and products than can be sold with little additional work. Build a business that earns while I sleep.
Faith. Do not spend any more money learning new things until I have put into practice the stuff I already know. Anyway, it is usually the same old stuff dressed up differently, so just get on with it.
Network. I am in the people business (not the money business) and my biggest growth in 2012 came from client referrals, so get better at networking and developing opportunities for referrals to grow.
Fun. Running a business can often be a hard slog, and it is easy to let fun take a back seat. So my Christmas present to myself was a stand-up comedy course. I reckon I have got a gift. Whenever I tell new clients what my fees are, they tell me I must be joking.