Question: How can I prepare my business for the coming year?

Answer:           As 2014 begins, here are three questions that I am thinking about:

1.      How can I remain resilient in an uncertain economy and a precarious political environment?  What global and financial news do I need to know about to stay on top of the change that is bound to happen? Using contingency planning, can I develop scenarios for the risks and benefits I may encounter for both downward and upward trends? Whatever happens, there will be a trickle-down effect on my small business. How can I be strategic?

2.      How can I disrupt the status quo? Who are both my conventional and unconventional competitors and how can I differentiate myself from them? What did I accomplish this year that was truly excellent? What lessons did I learn that could be leveraged into innovation? What cross-cutting trends can I tap into that could transform the way I do business? How can I be innovative?

3.      How can I communicate more effectively? How can I reach my target market and support my clients in real time? How can I provide more on-demand feedback? How can I prepare more engaging and interactive reports? What tools, skills, and models do I need to add to my portfolio? How can I be nimble?

I need to dust off my business plan and re-visit my key goals:
  • My desired total revenue, predicted expenses, and planned profit
  • The type and amount of work I want—number and size of projects, types of clients, new or expanded services, and my rolling marketing plan
  • My plans for professional development and growth

I will use my evaluation skills to compare my goals, last year to this, the extent to which I met them this time around, and how I plan to measure my success in the coming year. There is much to think about. I can’t really know the future, but I can be nimble, strategic, and innovative—my touchstones for 2014!

Originally published in the Independent Consulting TIG Newsletter, Volume 4, Issue 3. December 2013.

For more information on consulting topics see in Barrington, G. V. (2012). Consulting Start-up & Management: A Guide for Evaluators & Applied Researchers. Los Angeles: SAGE. 

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