How has your year been? Hasn’t 2015 flown by?!
A lot can happen in a year that wasn’t expected, foreseen or planned for. Just look at a few events from 2015:
- On the 6th of May, very few were predicting a majority Conservative Government in the UK (and no one would have predicted the dividend tax changes they would be bringing in effecting business owners).
- There has been a marked and dramatic increase in refugees entering Europe (over 700,000 applications for asylum to October representing an increase of almost four times the number in 2014) which, as a continent we have clearly been unprepared for.
- The atrocious terror attacks in Paris less than two weeks ago.
- And as a rugby fan, I definitely wasn’t anticipating watching England exit their own world cup in the pool stages.
So many unexpected things can happen for small business owners in a year as well. To name just a few possibilities….
- Ill health for yourself, key employees, family members
- Key clients going out of business or going to a competitor
- Policy changes that impact your market or your funding
- Unexpected problems with suppliers you’re reliant on
- A key employee leaving to join a competitor.
According to the office for national statistics 11,077 business became insolvent by the end of September 2015, representing the dreams of over 11,000 teams and individuals.
Today we run our businesses in a constantly changing environment and as business owners we have to learn to be flexible and adapt. Things don’t always happen as they were expected to, and if we don’t act decisively, it could have serious consequences.
At Engineering Business Growth, we often talk about the importance of identifying the end goal with our clients, and working backwards from there to create a plan of how to get there. However, even the best plans can’t take account of all of the potential bumps in the road and come up with advanced solutions to tackling all of them.
Often as leaders we have to keep our eye on the end goal, and adjust quickly in order to respond to what’s going on around us. Key to this is having that clearly defined goal in the first place, and having a clearly defined set of values by which the business operates. If we keep the goal and our values in mind whilst responding to challenges, we can respond to those challenges in a way that is consistent and keeps us going in the right direction.
For those that have employees, this also helps keep our staff on track. As individuals we receive reassurance from others who are steady and assured in the face of change and we are more likely to stick with them through times of challenge.
Learn from the past
Another important trait for tackling future challenges is ensuring we learn from the ones we have faced in the past. Many leaders have adopted the habit of constant review, looking at each situation they perform in and asking the questions: What went well? Why? What didn’t go well? Why? What would I change next time?
Reflection is an important part of business leadership. Whether we lead a large team or work on our own, we can all learn and improve our performance and the performance of our businesses, from reviewing how we performed previously.
What were the challenges you weren’t expecting?
How did you deal with them?
What didn’t go so well?
What can you learn for next time?
Similarly it is important to take time to celebrate the successes. Look back on all you have achieved this year – What went well? What do you want to make sure you replicate in the year to come. Take time to celebrate those moments and set your sights on more moments of celebration.
If there’s one thing we can say with certainty as we look to 2016 it is that it won’t all go exactly according to plan.
However having taken time to learn from 2015 and having established some clear goals can certainly help you remain consistent and navigate the challenges you will come across in the year to come.