In small business, careers and life, we are marathoners not a sprinters. Big differences in each process and commitment.
Most long distance runners pace themselves and know that it is the second half of the race that allows them to finish strong. They know how to conserve energy, deal with lows and not get too high, which are all important cycles that they must learn to go through. Sprinters train for a quick short, burst of energy.
Preparing for a marathon as a runner is a similar process as preparing for a long, successful career. Longevity takes a strong foundation, flexibility and willingness to change.
Nothing runs perfect and many times those pesky interruptions or dips we experience, show us things we need to adjust, tweak and move on from. I find that the more I review and refine as I go along, the more things go the smoothest. One of the worst habits people get into is NOT regularly reviewing and refining their process, procedures and results.
How willing are you to evaluate what’s really going on and make changes, to finish the year strong and set yourself up to launch into the new year with clarity and momentum?
Willingness is the key, yet elusive for many. We can never get lazy for too long. Things change quickly today, and can pass us by and then we can become obsolete rather quickly. It’s easier to stay up to date, than try to catch up.
How To Finish the Year Strong
1. Regularly Review Your Process and Procedures
Make sure everything is working smoothly, properly and that communications and activities are getting the results and outcome that you are expecting. This can include your phone system, voicemail message, website contact me form, social media activity, or links back to your website.
Additionally, simplify and streamline how people can find and communicate with you. Less is more. Check and update all the information on your website, the social media platforms you use, any sites you contribute content to and bio’s you have on them.
2. Know Your Financials
It doesn’t matter how big or small your business is. The question is are you making money or is it costing you more to be in business than it should? Don’t ignore knowing your numbers and what your cost of doing business is.
Here are some numbers  that you should know and review: cash flow, net income, profit and loss, sales, price point, gross margin, total inventory.
To finish the year strong, get some financial help through your bank, credit union, investment advisor or business consultant.
3. Think More Creatively
What can you do to shake things up and get people to act, pay attention or increase their interest in you and your business?
Being consistent in messaging, content and strategy is essential, but adding a creative twist can perk up people’s attention. Consider partnering with other businesses, an outrageous, short term offer, a compelling action video, adding a hot item trending strong or offer a high value promotion.
Check out these creative ways to expand your business.
4. Add Value Rather Than Discount
Discounting our products and services may seem like a good incentive but in the end it usually ends up devaluing us. Creating sales incentives to move or close out goods and services from a prior year, or that are no longer being offered is smart business. Better to add value than to discount.
What can you add to your sales process that adds a tangible value to what you do and offer? Partner with other businesses to offer those incentive such as: gift cards, movie tickets, attraction tickets, events and entertainment offers.
Entertainment consumption is very hot this year. People are spending money on fun and entertainment.
5. Change a Few Habits
To finish the year strong, make a few strategic, key changes in some of the habits, approaches and attitudes that you know are holding you back.
Be proactive and willing, not lazy.
Changing a few bad habits can make a huge difference in the outcome of things. Look at time management, organization, commitment, consistency, flexibility, resilience and see where improvements can be implemented and make them.
Be early, stay late, volunteer, try a new approach, speak out, listen more, join, compliment others. These things improve our image and efforts.
6. Set Realistic and Achievable Goals
Nothing is worse really than setting unrealistic goals and expectations, when you know in your heart of hearts they are too lofty. I know they sound good, but are they REALLY achievable?
Goals are most effective when we set them realistically within what we know we are capable of. What’s important is setting goals, committing to working on them and making progress.
Progress builds momentum. Goals are ongoing guide posts and markers not absolutes.
7. Use Your Mentors and Support Team
We succeed together not solo. The most successful people I know have an active, diverse accessible support team and select mentors that they tap into and rely on. This builds our sense of community, of belonging and our service to others. The more we show we belong to our community, profession and industry, the more we will be included.
Developing a sense of inclusion goes a long way in today’s business world. Our goal as professionals is to help others succeed, which makes us succeed. Give first to the right people and watch what happens.
8. Improve and Increase Your Digital Footprint
How relevant, current and active we are in the technology, products, media and platforms that are standards is how we will be assessed. Whatever those standards are will allow you entry into sphere’s of influence no matter what you do. Engage, show up, contribute, respond and be a part of where people gather and populate online and in person. Leadership is about contribution and sharing your voice. Use your experience and wisdom to educate and inspire.
On the Internet, a digital footprint is the word used to describe the trail, traces, or “footprints” that people leave online. Are you leaving your footprint? Google yourself and you can see.
9. Show Your Gratitude and Heart
Nothing makes a bigger impact or is more memorable than a person’s authenticity. Be who you say you are and always lead with your best qualities, ideas, actions and thoughts. Get to know what your best assets are and use them for the greatest good.
When we touch people with kindness, caring and help, we are doing our best and fulfilling our greatest purpose. Gratitude is an action word. Everyday we have unlimited possibility to serve and do good.
10. Commit to Your Health, Fitness and Well-being
Without our mental, emotional and spiritual health and well-being, we will never live up to our God given potential. The best personal commitment we can make to ourselves is to be the healthiest we can be each day. Success and well being are great partners and creates a state of mind that helps us through the most challenging times, change and transition.
There is a euphoric feeling when a marathoner gets into that running groove in the second half of the race and pushes through the walls to cross the finish line. Remember, in small business, careers and life, we are training like a marathoner not a sprinter
We cross many finish lines but never really finish the race. Best to keeping training. It keeps us stronger and more alert.
Seafoam 2015  Photo via Shutterstock