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New year – a perfect time

New year – a perfect time to reflect and also plan ahead.

“We can achieve every goal if we have a good plan, if we work regularly on it, if we train and face our fears.”


Quite often, as a business owner, I approach the New Year with a somewhat patchy order book (for some reason our corporate clients get a bit distracted by the prospect of holidays!). We know we have some projects to engage with in January but are aware we still have some spare capacity for the rest of the year. The holiday period can be a bit depressing if a full order book is required for your organisation to be profitable and you cannot see where the orders are going to be coming from next.

If this is also the case for you … I have some reassuring news:

If what you provide in business meets the essential criteria for success; is desired by your target market, is outstanding value for money and offers great benefits – you can take comfort in knowing that in due course opportunities will arise – but in the short term some level of self-doubt is perfectly natural – after all … business is risky … right? 

My advice is always to turn the peace of the festive period into an opportunity – try and use the time to look back over the last few year’s experiences … where were those unexpected gains and where were your efforts less rewarded? 

As an exercise to help you reflect on your progress and revisit your plans for the future – think of three things that went better than expected this last year, three things that did not go so well and three things you have learned that you can use to help you in future.

Take a moment to take a little pride from what went well, because opportunities may come partly by chance … but it has been your determination, hard work and focus that gave you those wins along the way.

New year – a perfect time to reflect and also plan ahead.

While we strive to only invest our time in those aspects of business which will prove beneficial for us, some of your most creative, potentially profitable ideas almost always turn out less successfully or result in ill-advised outcomes. It is perfectly normal for things to not always work out as we hoped. 

The hard truth is that time spent on these unproductive activities can simply be wasted time – if you let it.

We can all identify these things that have been less productive and choose to prune them out or reduce the amount of time we spend on them – that gives us more time to look at new activities to try next, while still doing the things we are doing well (as the saying goes – ‘we want to keep the precious baby – and just ditch the useless dirty bathwater’). 

I am also a firm believer that things improve more rapidly if they are measured – so for any aspect of your work life that you cannot say, on reflection, was a success or a hindrance, my advice would be to think about how the benefit of it can be measured and then measure performance against this benchmark for a period – and see if the activity is indeed helping you meet your goals. 

For example, frequent interaction with social media or article writing can help boost both reputation for some organisations but will have little or no benefit for others … find out which activities you should be doing for the maximum benefits. If you cannot find real evidence of improvement arising from a particular thing you are doing – it is very unlikely that it is actually helping you achieve your goals.

No matter what business guru’s would have you imagine – we cannot be experts or even competent at everything. Being prepared to accept that someone else with a different background and skillset may be the best person for a specific task (and you will not be). This not a sign of weakness – it is a sign of intelligence. 

Engaging with professional help, in the long-term, has proved to be a valuable strategy for our company and one I would recommend you consider as it frees you up to do what you do best – engaging in the delivery of the core service your organisation is there for.. 

However, this does not allow you to abdicate responsibility for the tasks which are being completed … so be prepared to set goals and then measure performance against them – just as you would if you were doing them yourself.

Building both personal and professional skills is, in my view an ongoing process, one that you should be committing some of your time to on an ongoing process.I would advise you never to dismiss possible future opportunities based on past experience. Instead consider whether your current abilities, based on what you now know and have experienced since your last attempt will put you in a better position to succeed this time.

You have more experience now than the last time you tackled a specific challenge and always have another chance to succeed by approaching it differently a second time – just do not continue doing what you can clearly see did not work last time.. it is not hard to see that the results will be the same if you do not change what you are doing. Welcome the opportunity to do new and speculative activities – the resulting combination of successes and failures is how we learn.

Can I wish you the very best of luck and good fortune in your choices for 2020 and encourage you to take time out to reflect on the last year, plan for your next few big opportunities, focus your efforts and above all believe in yourself.

Don Cooke
Don Cooke
After over 30 years in business, Don strives to give the sort of encouragement and business support that will help you be stronger as an individual and also grow opportunities to maximise potential. Don lives with his family in Sussex.

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