The end of 2019 is quickly approaching, and business leaders everywhere are waiting for new beginnings in 2020. But sitting back and dreaming about the future is a surefire way to squander the present. In order to set yourself up for success in the new year, you need to finish this one strong.
5 Ways to Finish Strong
In industries like retail, hospitality, and consumer goods, the last few weeks of the year are often the busiest. In other sectors, it can be painfully slow. But regardless of where you fall, there are some proactive steps you can take to finish the year strong and jumpstart success in the coming year.
1. Reexamine Your Budget and Contracts
Now’s your chance to review your annual budget and evaluate how things are going. It’s also the perfect time to re-examine your pricing with vendors and service providers that you’ll be working with next year.
“Cut the bloating and get lean by renewing the effort to evaluate your major contracts with vendors, suppliers and service providers,” Bridgepoint Consulting suggests.
“Cut the bloating” is an all-encompassing phrase. It can mean revising your contract and removing the KPIs, deliverables, and conditions that haven’t been serving you well. When you renegotiate, you can use the insights from the previous year, to create a tighter, leaner contract. Another way you can cut the bloating is by reassessing the partnerships you have. When they are rife with contract breaches and poor performance, it should be grounds to cut them loose. You don’t have the time or resources to carry dead weight in the off-chance that it improves, reducing your suppliers or vendors might be challenging, but it will pay off in the end. To prevent this from happening in the future, you can look into managing software, so you can swiftly and smoothly “cut the bloating.”
Afterwards, “Follow-up on your key action items related to your major contracts, and make sure those are being renewed or renegotiated. Additionally, if the contract is being cancelled, make sure it is being replaced with a new vendor that is priced right.”
2. Add Value, Don’t Discount
A lot of businesses feel the need to finish the year strong by offering discounts that allow them to puff up their numbers and show momentum going into the next fiscal year. However, instead of discounting, perhaps you should be looking for ways to add value.
When you add value, you don’t have to gimmick people into making a purchase. The underlying product sells itself. You have something that’s more compelling and, therefore, leads to better satisfaction after the point of purchase. Value begets subsequent repurchases – discounts rarely do.
3. Review KPIs and Respond
Hopefully you established some key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics at the beginning of the year. Don’t wait until the final day of the quarter to review them. Now’s the time to revisit how you’re doing so you can implement some targeted strategies and solutions to finish the year strong. It’s also a good time to look forward and think about which KPIs will be useful and insightful in the year to come.
4. Gather Referrals and Testimonials
For most of the year, your sales team spends its time finding new clients, selling them on your products and services, and then nurturing those relationships so they become repeat customers. The end of the year is the perfect time to cash in on the loyalty of these repeat customers by asking them to provide you with some qualified leads.
Existing customers often produce the best new customers. This is true for a number of reasons. For one, they know the value you provide and are willing to vouch for it. Secondly, because they’ve used your products and services, they know which businesses in their network could directly benefit from the features you offer.
“Another easy way to capitalize on advocacy is through client testimonials,” David Thomson writes for Winmo. “87% of your clients are willing to give you a testimonial- but only 10% of companies ever ask for one.”
The end of the year – after you’ve extended another year of value – is the optimal time to ask for a little goodwill in the form of a testimonial. You’d be surprised how much valuable feedback you can get (and how much tantalizing social proof you can create based on this feedback).
5. Give Employees Some Time Off
Finishing strong isn’t always about putting in a ton of extra hours and sweat equity. Sometimes it’s actually better to unwind and recuperate from a busy year. If your business typically slows down a little over the last few weeks, give your employees ample time off to spend holidays with their families. Rather than giving them just a day or two off for Thanksgiving, give them the whole week! Or instead of closing down for Christmas, reopening, and then closing down again for New Year’s, take the entire week and let people work from home.
Build Momentum for the New Year
Nobody is saying you should wait until January 1 to think about the new year. To do so would be a misstep and would force you to move blindly into what are arguably the most important weeks of business execution. The key is to use the last few weeks of the year to finish strong and, in doing so, build momentum for the new year.
Now’s the time to push down the accelerator and make things happen. How will you respond?