Don’t you just love that feeling you get at the start of the new year? You have a clean slate can tackle new goals, processes and ideas. You can do it all! We may need a superhero theme song here…)
BUT, before you start working on your new ideas, make sure to STOP doing the things that hurt your business. Your best intentions will be derailed if you don’t. Before you go off track, here are things you need to address to make it your best business year ever.
Redundancies in your business
As your business grows, you have likely added support staff or outsourced processes to help you make the magic happen. CONGRATS! It’s never good as the business owner to micromanage your trusted team, but it’s important to safeguard your business so that it can continue operations if a team member decides to move on or you need to cover them when they take time off.
Creating operations manuals, consolidating logins and passwords (I use LastPass!), and ensuring that there is always more than one person who knows the current systems and schedules of your operations, even if that extra person is you, are all good things to make sure your business won’t miss a beat. Even stepping into the jobs and tasks of your support team from time to time is enlightening. Really!
Review agreements and service rates
It’s so easy to set it and forget it. Amen! It is especially easy to avoid revisiting when it takes so long to create agreements and documents in the first place. There are so many tools that you use to keep your business humming along and, in some cases, it’s been a loooooong time since you reviewed the terms of your agreements. Forgetting to review current agreements can harm your business—you may be getting charged for things you no longer use, may not be covering your business with the right—or best—insurance, you might even be able to get better rates with a little negotiating or by finding a different service provider. Be sure to block out time on your calendar to review everything.
People choose to do business with you because they know, like and trust you. Ours is a business of building relationships. If you NEVER reach out to clients after the invoice is paid, you are possibly harming your chances to get their referrals and future business. You don’t need to connect with every past client weekly, but be sure you do things throughout the year to continue the relationship. Your current clients need to hear from you regularly. If you fail to keep them posted on developments with their project, it’s just asking for trouble for your business. Be sure you communicate with them regularly to proactively handle any issues that might come up along the way.
Yep, I’ve been there. Drowning in deadlines and it feels like you have design projects that never end. The Catch 22 with this scenario is that they WILL end if you don’t continue your marketing efforts even during the busy times. So, make sure you create a marketing plan you can consistently execute throughout the year that includes activities that keep your business top of mind for future clients when they ultimately need a design professional.
Committing to professional development
Every year, you need to enhance your skills and make sure you are on top of the design industry’s latest trends. We’re in the business of NOW, so if you slack in staying tuned in to the latest and greatest, prospective clients will go to your competition. Be sure you schedule and budget for this investment every year, whether it is going to furniture markets (get an updated interior design events list here!), getting a business coach or trying some new design software.
Being sloppy with your financials is definitely not a good strategy. When your accounting system is in disarray you really harm your business. And when accounting is NOT your cup of tea, go out and find a trusted professional who LOVES accounting just as much as you LOVE design. Nobody ever said you had to be an expert in all aspects of your business, but you do need to know when to call in reinforcements. Don’t mess around with your financials. Just don’t.
Will you commit to stop hurting your business this year? When you tackle the things I’ve listed year, you’re going to have a great year!
All my best!