It has been six months since the beginning of 2018. Yup. Six months. Already.
That means it’s time to take a pulse check on how well you’re doing on the business growth initiatives you set out when you created your annual plan.
When you’re a small business or ambitious-but-struggling entrepreneur, this can be a painful process, because it may mean you have to let go of the stuff that’s not working and re-think your strategy.
Let’s face it. Chances are you’re short staffed, or your marketing manager (if you have one) lacks certain skills, or you’re anxious to keep up with the latest technology trends but don’t have the bandwidth, etc. etc., and what’s happened is you’ve simply taken on too much.
Because of your limited budget, you have to make choices of which activities make a healthy contribution to your bottom line — and which ones don’t.
What were the intentions for the growth or sustainability of your business this year? How were you planning to develop new business? What communications channels or tactics were you going to use to attract attention and rack up followers? What big projects did you put on your plate that were mission critical to the success of your business? Which ones kept you up at night?
Some businesses review progress every quarter. Others, like me, prefer to take a penetrating look at the six months’ mark. That’s because many strategies are long-term and ongoing, and thus take a long time to break through the noise and have a measurable effect.
A podcast, for example, requires you produce many episodes before your audience stumbles upon it. Speaking engagements are often planned months in advance, as are long-lead media hits.
If you’ve decided that you’re moving along swimmingly, then WOW! You are a rare phenomenon. And, no doubt, you have lots of money to spend on marketing.
Otherwise, if what you’re doing hasn’t made much of a dent in your growth and it takes inordinate amounts of time to execute, your choices are:
- Keep moving forward with what you’re doing, but consider bringing in a professional to give you an objective opinion of your execution so that you can tweak and optimize.
- Put the less performing initiatives on the back burner until you have the resources to hire or outsource.
- Drop non-performing initiatives like a hot potato. It could be that Facebook is a complete waste of time for you — perhaps because the channel isn’t the right fit, or perhaps because you don’t have the skills to use it properly. If you can’t do it well, don’t do it.
- Trade the non-performing initiative with a new, better one.
Strategically speaking, ask yourself some probing questions. Am I not being bold or unique enough? Am I afraid to move past my comfort zone? Are my initiatives old school? Are we properly trained? Are we truly, passionately, doing the work? Are we just pushing our sales messages out there without connecting and engaging?
Your annual strategic plan is a map to success, but it’s fluid and dynamic. Sometimes you need to change the route when you encounter dead ends or slow-moving traffic.
And that’s perfectly fine.
May your next six months be exciting and fruitful!