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Friday, 18 December 2009

Friday Guest Blog: Matthew Goldsbrough


Goldsbrough Consulting


Getting Ready for 2010

I don't think I'm alone in looking forward to 2010, and wanting to see 2009 disappear rapidly in my rear-view mirror. It's been a tough year for most, and a new year brings new hopes. But if we're not realistic about how to begin that New Year, we'll not be able to make the most of what it could bring.

The Christmas holiday period is not only a time to enjoy time with friends and family, it's also a time to reflect on the year past and think about what may follow. I'd like to dispel some false notions that we commonly have at this time of year: I think of them as 'The Business Myths of Christmas'.

'It's a short interruption in my business'

While your place of work may only close for a few days, in truth you and your colleagues have been distracted in the weeks beforehand, and won't instantly and automatically re-engage when you get back to work in January. To ensure that everyone gets back into the swing as early as possible, it's a good idea to plan some activity in the first week of January that will refocus everyone on the goals for the year ahead, and get the energy level in your business back up to where it should be.

'It's a happy time'

While most people will enjoy the Christmas holiday, there'll be some who won't. Because a year is ending, people get reflective, and consider their future. I have known many good people return to work in January with a resignation letter in their hands, because they'd reconsidered what they should be doing while they were away. That can be extremely damaging, if you lose a valued colleague at short notice. Are you doing all you can to look after your valued people? Are there pressures on them that will make their Christmas break a time of stress, rather than fun? Can you alleviate the pressure?

'I'll have time over Christmas to plan'

It's a cosy image, spending some quality thinking time by the fireside with a mince pie and a glass of sherry. But it doesn't work like that, does it? You'll be frantically engaged in all sorts of activities that will give you no time to reflect constructively on what your business should do next year. So don't try. Go and relax properly instead. If you haven't already got a crystal clear plan for 2010, ensure that your planning is scheduled to happen in early January. And make sure that everyone you need to involve in the exercise – whether internal or external – has it on their calendar and knows what will be needed from them.

'It's not worth doing X until at least the third week of January'

In this case, X can be marketing, customer surveys, new product development, or just about any other activity. Allegedly, people won't read and respond to a marketing campaign in early January, for example. I know this to be untrue: in fact, I've organised some very effective marketing in that 'quiet time'. So why waste 6% of your year by not being active in those first three weeks? Of course, you'll need to have planned that activity before the Christmas break. In business, it's all about being ahead of the other guys – being faster off the block, more active, more alive.

'December was a surprisingly bad month'

While B2C revenues can be peaking in December, B2B revenues can be down against plan. I've lost count of the salespeople who've said 'I had a bad month because I couldn't get hold of the decision makers'. What this really points to is poor planning for the entire year. Well, surprise, surprise, Christmas is going to happen in December again next year too. And your potential customers will be distracted again. When you can predict seasonal effects on your business with complete clarity, they should be laid into the plan. If not, you start January in recovery mode, trying to get over the 'shock' result in December.

A final thought

In encouraging you to be realistic about how you plan and operate your business in the New Year, I'd also like you to do one other thing. If you're still standing at the end of 2009, still providing value to your customers, still enjoying what you do, and you're excited by what 2010 can hold, do this: give yourself a very big pat on the back.


About the Author

Since setting up Goldsbrough Consulting in 2003, Matthew Goldsbrough has helped his clients to build stronger companies, with marketing at the core of their business strategies. Matthew previously spent more than twenty years in the software industry, leading teams that designed, built, marketed, sold and supported products and services. Matthew helps businesses to plan and use marketing effectively, using the experience developed in a variety of senior roles throughout Europe and the USA. Read Matthew's blog at www.goldsbrough.biz/blog.

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