It’s 2016, and everybody and their mother has an opinion on what you should be doing this year to grow your business.
We won’t presume to know exactly what your business should be doing, but we can tell you the business resolutions that we’re undertaking this year, and pass them along. Take ‘em for what you will. Let’s get right to it.
Resolution #1) We’re becoming more accountable.
Accountability is huge, especially in a smaller company like ours where roles may be fluid and everybody needs to pull their weight. That said, even larger companies preach the virtues of increasing accountability, be it to investors, coworkers, bosses, or even a business coach.
If nothing else, it’s important for every member of our little team to be accountable to everyone else. In 2016, take the initiative to vocalize your goals and ambitions for your work to others, instead of keeping them to yourself, so that someone else can bug you if you’re slipping.
Heck, accountability is a big reason we’re posting this list today; feel free to keep us accountable by razzing us if we hit 2017 and haven’t implemented each of these resolutions!
Other ways to keep yourself more accountable include being more defined in your objectives and getting serious about measuring results, listing goals in common areas in the office, and fostering a work environment where anyone and everyone can politely weigh in and critique without fear of retribution.
Resolution #2) We’re setting a badass goal.
Often times, what’s considered ‘practical’ is devastatingly crippling for ambition. The world’s greatest companies and public figures would never have made it if they’d deferred to typical practicality, so set a big ol’ goal for this year.
For Responster, our big goal is to reach $100,000 in monthly recurring revenue. Full disclosure: That represents quite a leap from where we stand today, but by staying true to our less tangible goal of becoming the most user-friendly survey tool around we just might have a shot.
Resolution #3) We’re also setting a tamer goal.
Alright, so let’s say we fall short of the $100k MRR mark in December – game over, right? Nah. Our tamer goal is to become self-sustaining as quickly as possible. We’re a small team with a relatively low burn rate, so this is a goal that’s probably achievable in a few months’ time.
Dream big, but give your company tangible steps along the way to help you actively move toward your big picture goals and feel accomplished along the way.
Resolution #4) We’re looking for opportunities to become a connector.
A recent Forbes article described the explosive recent trend of companies who, rather than provide a product or service directly, are simply facilitators or connectors. Citing examples like Airbnb (a company that owns no property but is the world’s most widespread accommodation provider), Uber (which is the world’s largest transportation provider but owns no vehicles), and more, the article calls out the sharing economy we live in.
At its core, becoming a connector is about pinpointing customer wants and finding a way to facilitate those wants as efficiently as possible; for businesses like Airbnb and Uber, that means being so efficient that you don’t even have to own any product.
While that’s not applicable to every model, every business might benefit from re-focusing on themselves in the context of being a connection maker rather than a product provider; indeed, this is a customer-centric mindset that forces you to really boil down market needs to their most basic elements, and that’s never a bad thing. In short, don’t worry about getting someone to buy your product, worry about providing someone with the perfect solution to their expressed problems, instead.
This approach is reminiscent of the way us copywriters have long practiced the mantra of selling via ‘benefits’ rather than ‘features’. For example, you’ll be a better hammer salesman not by rambling on about the quality of your hammers, but by painting pictures of the types of transformative projects potential customers can carry out with them — the means to build a treehouse for your son to make memories in for the next five years paints a more vivid, emotional selling point than “alloy handle with no-slip grip!”
For us, this means thinking of ourselves outside of simply the context of being a survey tool, and getting into our customers’ shoes. We should do everything in our power to become the best way to connect a company with their customers, or their employees, or whoever they’re soliciting feedback from.
How do you facilitate your customers’ connections? Does every decision you make reflect your desire to be the best, easiest-to-use end to those means? Food for thought, anyways.
Resolution #5) We’re taking a leap (but keeping our parachute on).
Part of our desire to help make connections and facilitate best practices in surveying has lead us to formulate and entirely new product that we’re really excited about (sorry – no details just yet).
With any luck, beginning work on that product will represent our big leap of faith this year, a plunge into the unknown for a shot at something new and innovative.
I encourage anyone to start carving out the time for a leap; push yourself to innovate and iterate and find something never before seen in your business or industry.
Then, start stitching together your parachute. For us, this meets meeting our ‘tame goal’ of self sustainment. At this point, we’ll be free to let the creative floodgates open on our other project without any worry of paying the bills.
Resolution #6) We’re discarding quantity for quality, and finding our niche.
One of the biggest reasons for this post pertaining specifically to the resolutions we’re making as a company, rather than just being a list of suggestions for any business, is that we’ve noticed the content that performs best (both for us and others) is born out of experience, not speculation.
Posts of ours people bothered to actually read (thanks for that, by the way!) were those which directly related results and recent triumphs as a company. Instead of putting out 2-3 posts per week, we’re now going to a once per week schedule, every Friday, in an effort to only put out the good stuff that we can stand behind with either our own experiences or research.
This practice has been used time and time again by many of the big dogs to build authority and clout, and it’s probably an approach we should have taken earlier. Oh well, as a street performer buddy of mine used to say, “you win some, you learn some.”
Resolution #7) We’re hiring into our big picture.
Just a couple of months ago, Responster was on the cusp of hiring several members into a multi-national sales team and tackling enterprise sales as a focus. Ultimately, however, we realized that this expensive solution might not be in line with the more widespread userbase growth we wanted to achieve.
Instead, why not take the money and invest it into one heck of a marketing strategist that could help us reach viral userbase growth instead of sniping bigger accounts one at a time? Why not indeed, so that’s what we’re doing right now. Scrapping the sales team plan didn’t make everyone happy, but it was the right move for us.
Just because a hire has merit, does not mean they’re the best approach for your business; make sure the ‘short game’ or a tempting resume don’t get in the way of your company ethos and vision.
Now Make This Post Your Own:
Now is the time to audit exactly what you want to get out of this year. Not in an abstract way, not by way of generalizations. Put the changes you’ll make into words, post them up where everyone can see, and then hold yourself accountable for making tangible steps toward each.
If your vision for this year has changed from the last, make sure that the things you’re doing each day are still relevant to your brand’s goals, and replace anything that falls short with a fresh ambition that makes more sense.