Forget about extravagant fireworks or a ball drop in New York – when something was rung in 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 get complacent about the future. The New Year is an excellent time for entrepreneurs to reflect on their businesses and how they can improve and stand out in the months and years to come.
Whenever you take a moment to review your efforts, it is worth taking a look at what your coworkers have on their mind. I got in touch with seven entrepreneurs and business leaders to find out what they decided to brush up on in 2021.
1. Gather a wealth of information: Steve Willis, CEO of milliCare
Steve Willis recognizes that the pace of change has never been faster: “Even without a global pandemic or economic crisis, it is important to reflect and refresh your business ideas every year. Market trends change, demographics change and, most importantly, our customers’ needs change. “
To keep abreast of these changes, Willis looks for three different sources: “When we get feedback from key customers, hear new ideas from team members, and look at the whole industry shift, we can stay up to date and move our business forward.”
Many companies think they know what their customers want, but the only way to really know is by asking. Once you’ve gathered information and planned how a need can be met, Willis will test your idea to make sure it is consistent with established products, processes, and practices.
2. Focus Closely: Tom O’Neill, CEO and Founder of Parallax
While Parallax is building a SaaS platform that enables professional service companies to grow profitably, Tom O’Neill has made a conscious effort to narrow the company’s focus.
“Like most entrepreneurs, we’re excited about our product,” said O’Neill. “It’s hard to counter the urge to seize every opportunity that presents itself, even outside of our core.”
However, that focus has helped the company grow. In the New Year, O’Neill plans to scale that growth: “Remember, there’s a difference between growing a business and scaling it. When you started your business, it was natural to grow and try different things in order to achieve a product market adjustment. “
Scaling, on the other hand, requires clear goals and data-driven decisions. O’Neill explains that this will allow your team to consistently and efficiently deliver in your established market while investing in your new market.
3. Take the time to think: Haman Sharma, founder of ReviewNPrep
Haman Sharma strongly believes in the importance of reflection and recommends that entrepreneurs spend time thinking about the course their company is planning.
“If you don’t consistently reinvent your business, you will end up having no business,” Sharma said. “It all starts with a problem and an idea of how to approach that problem. Keep track of these ideas in a journal and take the time to revisit them at least once a month. “
At the same time, Sharma realizes that you cannot implement every idea you have: “It is important to take a step back and think about the list of ideas you have and see if they are still relevant based on your current business situation are. Personally, I came across these crucial points in my entrepreneurial journey where I had ideas but no data to support them. “
Gathering data can help validate hypotheses and ensure that you put more of your good ideas into practice 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 taking these relationships into account and making sure we get as much growth out of them as possible. As she makes progress towards completing a book that has been in the works for two years, she has been inspired by her network – and credits them with her initiative.
“My number one tip is to join a mastermind group or find a mentor,” said Dr. Hamel. “Seeing people doing great things or constantly working on projects and ideas will inspire you. It will drive you to improve and finish your own projects and ideas. It’s also a great opportunity to get feedback. If the circle you’re in isn’t rushing, find one who will. “
5. Learn from successes and mistakes: Kara Hertzog, President of Innovative Employee Solutions
Kara Hertzog believes that thinking about the company’s performance is the most important task of a business leader: “What worked, what didn’t work and how can you continue to improve and develop as a company? If you don’t keep asking questions, you risk stagnation. Don’t skip the areas where your company excels, as even those may one day require a refresher. “
In the current turbulent business climate, many companies are rethinking their business operations. Hertzog’s advice? Let your colleagues inspire you.
“Everyone had to get more creative this year,” she said. “As we look for new and innovative online engagement tools, let’s take a close look at how other companies have made these kinds of changes.”
Learn from those who have gone before and you will find fewer mistakes of your own along the way.
6. Use tools to overcome new barriers: Laura Boccanfuso, CEO of Vän Robotics, Inc.
Laura Boccanfuso doesn’t need a new year to think about how to improve her business. Instead, she explains, “I keep thinking about two main goals. First, I want to build an incredible company that people want to work for and, second, I want to build amazing products that people want to own. If you get the first goal right, the second one becomes a lot easier. “
Before COVID-19, your company’s software usage was strictly complementary. To support the teams at Vän Robotics, Inc. in 2021, she plans to deploy tools that are specifically designed for remote project management and also provide a solid foundation for her expanding team. Because software alone can add complexity rather than remove it, Boccanfuso will also provide online resources and training to team leaders.
7. Don’t be afraid to rock the boat: Scott Schoenberger, Managing Partner at Bluewater
The Bluewater team had been into remote working, but the resulting success, after being fully adopted this year, led Scott Schoenberger to wonder what else the company was missing.
“It can be easy for companies to get complacent when things go right,” he said. “Instead of rocking the boat for faster traction and better growth, we often double up on exactly what we did before.”
Remote working gave employees valuable flexibility and helped the company hire people from a much larger talent pool. To ensure Bluewater continues to tap new sources of innovation, Schönberger says his company is working on a formal process to take ideas, review, and allocate resources to test them.
For companies looking to find their own sources of innovation, his advice is simple: “Try to reset your expectations of the“ right ”approach while rethinking your business ideas. Letting go of pre-existing notions can open your eyes to new approaches that can dramatically improve your business. “
People around the world entered 2021 with a sense of relief – but that doesn’t mean entrepreneurs can watch and hope this year will be easier than last. A New Year is a time for reflection, and that reflection should lead to action. Follow the advice of the executives above and you will be well on your way to an amazing year for your own business.