Forget an extravagant fireworks display or a bullet drop in New York – if anything ushered in 2021, it was a collective sigh of relief. While many of us are excited to see 2020 in the rearview mirror, that doesn’t mean we can be complacent about the future. The new year is a great time for entrepreneurs to reflect on their business and think about how they can improve and excel in the months and years ahead.
When you take a moment to review your efforts, it’s worth looking at what your peers have in mind. I reached out to seven entrepreneurs and business leaders to find out what they decided to refresh in 2021.
1. Gather a wealth of information: Steve Willis, CEO of milliCare
Steve Willis acknowledges that the pace of change has never been faster: “Even without a global pandemic or economic crisis, it’s important to brainstorm and refresh your business ideas every year. Market trends change, demographics change and, most importantly, the needs of our customers change.
To stay on top of these changes, Willis turns to three different sources: “Soliciting feedback from key customers, listening to new ideas from team members, and looking at overall industry developments helps us stay current. and grow our business.
Many organizations think they know what their customers want, but the only way to really to know is to ask. Once you’ve gathered information and planned how to meet a need, Willis advises testing your idea to make sure it fits established products, processes and procedures.
2. Keep your focus: Tom O’Neill, CEO and Founder of Parallax
As Parallax builds a SaaS platform fueling profitable growth for professional services organizations, Tom O’Neill has made a conscious effort to limit the company’s focus.
“Like most entrepreneurs, we are passionate about our product,” O’Neill said. “It’s hard to fight the urge to grab every opportunity that comes your way, including those outside of our hearts.”
Yet this focus is what helped the company grow. In the new year, O’Neill plans to increase this growth: “Remember that there is a difference between growing and scaling a business. When you started your business , it was natural to orient yourself towards growth and try different things to achieve a product-market fit.”
Scaling, on the other hand, requires clear goals and data-driven decision-making. O’Neill explains that these allow your team to deliver consistently and effectively in your established market while continuing to invest in your new market.
3. Take time to reflect: Haman Sharma, Founder of ReviewNPrep
Haman Sharma emphasizes the importance of reflection and recommends that entrepreneurs spend time thinking about how their business will evolve.
“If you don’t systematically reinvent your business, eventually you will have nothing to do,” Sharma said. “It all starts with a problem and an idea on how to solve that problem. Keep track of these ideas in a journal and make time in your busy schedule to review them at least once a month.
At the same time, Sharma acknowledges that you can’t implement all of your ideas: “It’s important to step back and think about the list of ideas you have and see if they’re still relevant to the current state of your affairs. I have personally encountered these crucial crossroads in my entrepreneurial journey, where I had ideas but no data to back them up. »
Collecting data can help validate assumptions and make sure you put your good ideas into action more often.
4. Surround yourself with people who push you: Dr. Rachel Hamel, Founder of Dr. Rachel Hamel, DC
Dr. Hamel knows that we are a product of the people we surround ourselves with, so she suggests keeping these relationships in mind and making sure we get as much growth from them as possible. As she works toward the end of a book that has been in the works for two years, she draws inspiration from her network and credits her for her initiative.
“My number one tip is to join a mastermind group or get a mentor,” Dr. Hamel said. “Seeing people doing great things or constantly working on projects and ideas will inspire you. It will level you up and motivate you to complete your own projects and ideas. It’s also a great opportunity to get feedback. If the circle you’re in isn’t pushing you, then find one that does.
5. Learn from successes and mistakes: Kara Hertzog, President of Innovative Employee Solutions
For Kara Hertzog, reflecting on business performance is the most important job of any business leader: “What worked, what didn’t, and how can you continue to improve and evolve as a company? When you don’t continually question yourself, you risk becoming stagnant. Don’t overlook the areas in which your business excels, as even those may one day need a refresh.
Due to the current tumultuous business climate, many companies are rethinking the way they do business. Hertzog’s advice? Look to your peers for inspiration.
“Everyone had to get more creative this year,” she said. “As we research new and innovative online engagement tools, we’re looking closely at how other companies have made this kind of change.”
Learn from those who came before you and you’ll make fewer mistakes along the way.
6. Leverage tools to overcome new obstacles: Laura Boccanfuso, CEO of Vän Robotics, Inc.
Laura Boccanfuso doesn’t need another year to think about how she can improve her business. Instead, she explains, “I continually think about two major goals. First, I want to build an amazing company that people want to work for, and second, I want to build awesome products that people want to own. When you complete the first objective, the second becomes much easier.
Before COVID-19, the use of his company’s software was strictly complementary. To support Vän Robotics, Inc. teams in 2021, she is looking to leverage tools specifically designed to facilitate remote project management that will also provide a solid foundation for her growing team. Because software alone can add complexity instead of removing it, Boccanfuso will also provide team leaders with resources and online training.
7. Don’t be afraid to rock the boat: Scott Schoenberger, Managing Partner at Bluewater
The Bluewater team had dabbled in remote working, but the resulting success after fully embracing it this year had Scott Schoenberger wondering what else the company was missing.
“It can be easy for companies to become complacent when things are going well,” he said. “Instead of rocking the boat for faster traction and better growth, we often double exactly what we did before.”
Remote work gave employees valuable flexibility and helped the company hire from a much larger talent pool. To ensure that Bluewater continues to tap into new sources of innovation, Schoenberger says his company follows a formal process to collect ideas, verify them, and allocate resources to test them.
For companies looking to find their own sources of innovation, his advice is simple: “Try redefining your expectations of the ‘right’ way of doing things while revisiting business ideas. Letting go of existing notions can open your eyes to new approaches that can dramatically improve your business. »
People all over the world entered 2021 with a sense of relief, but that doesn’t mean entrepreneurs can sit back and hope that this year will be easier than the last. A new year is a time for reflection, and this reflection must lead to action. Follow the tips from the leaders above and you’ll be well on your way to a stellar year for your own business.