5 tips to make 2017 your year

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Recharged and refreshed from the Christmas break, the first few weeks of January are often filled with new found ambition and ideas for the year ahead. The trick is to ensure you don't get bogged down with everyday tasks, when really you should aim to keep thinking more long-term at regular intervals.

So how do we keep the creativity going?

1.     Remove your shackles

If you're a business owner that's still getting involved in every little detail, you need to ask yourself why. Because you love fixing problems? Because you don't trust your staff do the job?

Whatever the reason, think about how that undermines other managers and staff members. A grown-up business has the right processes in place so everyone knows what to do when, how and why. Not only does this limit mistakes, people feel more reassured when they know what it takes to do a good job. Just as importantly, it means you can get on with being a strategic leader.

2.     Talk to your customers

How many new customers do you want this year - 10? 100? 1,000? Just before you get drawn into setting your new targets, take a look at your client retention figures and how often they're making repeat orders.

The New Year's a great opportunity to review what you provide and how you deliver it. Start talking to clients at every stage of the buying process to get their honest feedback. Don't simply ask them whether they're happy, proactively ask what you could be doing better.

3.     Ditch the timewasters

Have any customers that you dread getting another phone call from? We've all been there!

The reality is there are likely some customers you really shouldn't be taking into 2017. List them by spend; who's spending the least yet taking up the most of your time? If the margins are slight, and they're preventing you from doing more productive, rewarding work, it's time for a cull. Instead, work harder at getting more business from your best customers.

4. Less talk, more action

Research shows that managers need to talk to each other more. More importantly, they need to be worthwhile discussions. According to the Harvard Business School, 12% of executives believe their management meetings consistently produced decisions on important strategic or organisational issues.

Try appraising your next meeting. Could it be defined as a success? If it started late, went on for an hour, and resulted in no actions, the answer's no!

5. Remember to look up

It's so easy to put your head down and get on with the job, but what are you missing? What opportunities are whizzing past you that you'd grab with both hands if you could? What's happening in the world around you; what are competitors doing, what changes are your suppliers looking at, what new innovations, products or trends are appearing that may positively or negatively impact your business?

Source: Rob Fenn Chief Executive of the British Assessment Bureau

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