"You are what you do, not what you say you will do." Carl Gustav
It's a new business year, and I hope you’re approaching it with optimism instead of getting overwhelmed. As always, there’s a lot of things to to focus on, but sometimes, a few small shifts to optimize your business can benefit your energy and performance. If I have to recall everything I’ve learned from working for many years in the corporate world, I can say that the most straightforward approaches are the ones that get used.
Who's going to refer back to a 30-page planning document anyway? And who wants to start the year overwhelmed with so many things on their to-do list? Planning and productivity are two areas of opportunity to optimize your business in 2020.
1. Develop a theme for the year
What is one thing that is of great focus for you – maybe a big challenge or opportunity for your business? Something that you think can be a key element for the year.
Here’s a great example of a theme: "The Year of Customer Service Excellence." Customer service is a big area of opportunity for your business and you want every staff member to think about it, own it and play a role in it for the year.
Your theme can also be about operations, marketing, building your purpose into your business, or something more relaxed like "The Year of More Fun at x Company". Regardless of your business’ theme, remember that it's a focus and symbol of what you want to improve.
Key point to remember: A theme is different from your revenue or sales outcomes. Instead, it should inspire you to move you toward to your sales goal – it’s the thing that motivates you and your staff to take advantage of a big opportunity and accomplish something.
My theme for 2020 is the year of utility. I want to put out the most useful and helpful content, blog posts, and courses to help my readers improve their businesses. I'm inspired by this because it helps me answer all the questions I receive from travel companies. I spend a lot of planning, researching and working with clients to ensure the content is useful to my readers.
Lastly, creating the theme does a cool thing: it gets you and your staff FOCUSED and INSPIRED to think of solutions and work together on an important aspect of your business.
2. Look at all areas of your business – including the personal aspects
Whether you’re a small business owner or own a larger enterprise, work is a major component of your life. It's often impossible to separate work and personal life. Often, we tend to get too focused on meeting sales and revenue targets that we forget the things that add the most value. Here are a few great ways to optimize your business and create personal harmony too:
3. Don’t get stuck in just 12 months of planning – look further ahead
Look at your annual goals and plans, but don’t forget to also consider what you want to accomplish in three years.
The problem with annual goals is they don't necessarily start and end in a 12-month time frame.
For example, your goal is to increase your percentage of guests from a specific market or with a certain type of behavior (e.g. solo travelers, couples) by 25%. This goal requires a lot of steps, such as running ads to these new clients and signing on new partners that cater to these kinds of travelers. You may not be able to accomplish all of these in one year, but you can start and plan the steps to get there.
The benefits of looking ahead:
4. Involve your key staff more in your planning
I used to take the approach of letting my staff do their jobs and not get them involved in planning and discussions of problems and opportunities to protect them. This was a huge mistake!
There’s no better time to make your staff feel more connected, feel that your business purpose involves them too and to part of the solution. In fact, I guarantee you’re going to gather better ideas and create better plans for the new year with more employee engagement.
Here are some ideas to increase staff engagement:
5. The power of three
There is this theory in psychology that we, humans, can only realistically focus on three tasks at a time. Working and focusing on a maximum of three things ensures you put the right amount of effort toward each and guarantees you get them accomplished.
Focus on three goals or tasks every quarter, month, week, and day.
Benefit: Results show that you get more tasks done, especially if they are steps toward a much larger goal.
6. Less manual – greater use of technology and apps to save time and minimize errors
Time and time again, I hear from tourism companies that embracing software for use in their business changes everything. Often, the problem with getting there is the time to figure it out, but once you take that time, it can make a huge difference in your business. Software options are endless, and this includes booking software, channel management systems, and email management.
Example: One way to start is to use software to help with your workflow so you can have fewer emails. You can see what needs to be done at a moment's glance, as well as what others are doing (your partners and suppliers). For this, I recommend Trello as it’s a great tool to manage project and task workflow with your team.
This video explains how Trello works, and it's completely free! This is a great start to gaining comfort in using technology to help you do your work more effectively and efficiently.
So, what is your approach to your business plans this year? And what productivity tools will you use to support your business? Let us know in the comments.
Dorene Wharton is a tourism strategist, marketer, coach and full-time traveler with a 25-year career working in all areas of marketing and sales. She left her corporate job with Fortune 500 hospitality brands to start Travel Life Media to help hotels, tour, attractions and event companies improve their marketing, live their brand with a purpose and make money.