IT'S THE COUNTDOWN to the year’s end. What does it mean to you?
I personally do a little reflecting on what I did (or didn’t) get done this year, but I spend a lot more time thinking about what I want from next year.
What changes do I see coming? What changes do others see coming? Is there an opportunity for my business to expand and grow? (Yes, it’s possible to grow your business even in this tough economy — but not if you continue to do things in the same way you always have. Even if it’s not broke, it probably needs some fixin’.)
Where should I invest resources? Is my staff as up-to-date and as knowledgeable as I need it to be? How about the equipment and programs that staff members use? Are they working the way they should be for staff to be as effective as I want it to be? Is there something new that would be useful? How can the business change to be more responsive to customer needs?
Asking these questions is just the start. I need to find some answers — and that means research, like talking to people who know more than I do (and there are plenty of them). I’ll talk to potential partners about how collectively we can do more and do it better. I’ll talk to staff members who have daily communication with customers. There’s lots of talking, huh?
You can start your day with the good intentions of picking up the phone and reaching out to people you need to talk to, but at the end of the day, there’s usually a number of those phone calls still on your to-do list. Usually, the best conversations you can have are face-to-face. It’s difficult to reach the number of people you need to talk to in order to make real changes to your business — unless you can get them all in one place, at one time, in the span of few days. That’s where trade shows and industry meetings come into play. At these shows, not only am I surrounded by people who, collectively, have a great deal of knowledge, but I’m also surrounded by actual samples. I can ask questions and demo products to my satisfaction.