Small Business Projects for 2017
I titled this blog ‘‘I made it’ – another year of small business success…’ – but perhaps it should have been ”phew I survived’ – without any major incidents in 2016′.
As 2016 drew to a close I felt both relief, and a sense of excitement as the promise of opportunity beckons in 2017. Like every small business owner, I have had some wins and some losses in the past 12 months. 2016 was fast, full-on and often relentless, and I would be remiss if I did not take this time to reflect on what I would do differently. What did I learn? How can I make things better? Where to from here? What stopped me from achieving all the things I wanted to achieve? What was I scared of?
I love this time of year. It is the full stop, a pause or even the end of the chapter in the storybook of my business journey. On a personal note, (together with my new husband of a month), I create what we want 2017 to look like. I urge you to consider doing the same.
What I do know is that I still tend to rush to the urgent rather than strategically working on the important things that will grow my business. It is time to write a list – what did I ‘loathe’ about 2016, and what did I ‘love’? How can I get more on the ‘love’ list when I do the review this time next year.
One of the most important things is to define what success does look like to me… to dream it, and to create it. It is one thing to say this but often things just get in the way. Some years the most important projects get left on the ‘to do list.’ Is it because we don’t know the first step to take? Or is it because we are just too busy.
I’m a big believer in making sure I surround myself with people who are cleverer than me, and who have different skills. As a leader of a business, we often cannot see what needs to be seen and dealt with. We need people around us who are able to fix things or even prevent things from happening because they anticipate it. And maybe people to assist with the strategic projects that are just not getting done. Ask yourself the question, ‘what is the worst thing that could ever happen in your business?’ (…have you put anything in place to try to protect yourself – now is the time). Make this your new years resolution.
I was a speaker at an event last year with Ross Greenwood (2GB), the business commentator… as we shared small business insights before we took to the stage, he shared the story of how one of his small business listeners had called him and recounted to his radio audience that she had received an email from an unknown source threatening to pull down her website and stop her business if she did not pay a ransom – within 24 hours… She was bereft not knowing where to turn or who to ask for help. She had a thriving business, she was listening to her customers – her website, however, was vulnerable to hackers… She did not know who to turn to.
I don’t like asking myself the question, but I do… I ask, ‘what is the worst thing that can happen?’. It is a question that we really do not ask ourselves often enough. For Ross’s caller, her IT (and livelihood) was vulnerable – no one ever thinks that this will happen to them. But there are many other areas of vulnerability. One of my great entrepreneur buddies had an ex-employee set up in competition… What is your fear?
Make sure when you write your list, about what you are going to take on this year, that on the ‘loathe’ list is: information digital security. (How do you protect your secret sauce?) We had our own little calamity this year… and I am thankful to say we did have policies and processes in place to protect our digital assets.
You don’t have to go it alone though. There are people who offer services to help with your digital security and other projects that just don’t seem to get off the to do list. Do the research on this too… make sure that you choose one that is fit for purpose i.e. your specific need – and is somehow accredited with one of the vendors.
I note for instance that Cisco (famous for data security at the big end of town) has a new offering for small business. In fact, it has invited small businesses to post a project – i.e. if you identify an area at risk in your business – of something to do with digital vulnerability – then you can put the outline of that project on their marketplace area… and one of their accredited partners will be in touch to let you know the best next steps.
I say, ‘nothing ventured nothing gained’.
The thing about being a small business owner is that we need to be a Jack (or Jill) of all trades, but there are some areas that are just too important not to hand to the experts.
Write your list… I’m doing it now. To me, 2017 will be about doing the work I do, so I can continue to scale and grow my businesses in the confidence that my precious assets, information and data are secure. It will be a year of continued nurturing of the teams I work with. If I look after my employees’ well-being, they can look after the customers’ well-being. And I include the professional service providers in that group – I choose carefully – trust is the critical ingredient for all business relationships.
No small business owner needs to operate in isolation… when you finish your love/loathe list – try to work out who can take those ‘loathsome’ things off your plate (internal or external), so that you can do more of the things you love. Then your 2017 will be a year to celebrate that you got the big project done. Make your issues someone else’s problem too, and ask for help from a professional.