With the New Year upon us, we’ve been reflecting on our progress over the twelve months. We wanted to share firstly what we’ve been up to, and more importantly, how we’ve made progress on our business throughout the year. Hopefully there’s a takeaway or two in there for you to apply in your situation.
What’s happened—the good and not so good
As in any business, there’s a fair share of wins and losses throughout the year.
On the positive side a, highlight for us is that, we’ve been recognised nationally for our work. We were finalists in two categories in the annual Xero awards, and won the category for offering the best advice in New Zealand.
We were also recognised by the Sunday Star Times as being the leading small emerging firm in the country, and being in the top 10 female led firms. Truth be told, we don’t read the paper so missed it when it first came out….you can read more on it here.
On the downside, we’ve had a disruptive time on the staff front. Losing two staff members (leaving Wellington) within a couple of weeks of each other during our busy time of year has held us back. This flowed through the rest of the year, meaning we’ve been playing catch up, and work turnaround times have been longer than we’d liked them to have been (thanks for your patience at times!).
Alongside this, we’ve outsourced some work, quickly reversed the decision to outsource, dealt with cashflow issues, managed IRD changes, and fought to remove internal bottlenecks. The pace of change is constant, and it’s a job in itself to stay on top of such change.
In retrospect, dealing with this change of pace coupled with the staff turnover has been the best thing that could have happened to us. While we were sad to lose them both (they were good staff, who did a good job), it’s provided us with the opportunity to assess our current workflow and at what level and roles we needed staff in order to achieve our goals was the trigger for us to get back to our plan.
How we’ve got through—with a plan
Ultimately everything we do flows from our business plan. This is set annually, reviewed quarterly, and turned into small action items for us to push through in each 90 day sprint. This is exactly the same approach we take when working with customers to help them drive their business forward—we eat our own cooking so to speak.
The plan itself didn’t give us any quick fixes. Staff leave and a business plan is no golden bullet. Instead it helped us know where we were going so we could make decisions faster.
Truth be told though, we had a period where we forgot to follow our plan. We weren’t holding ourselves accountable to following it. With the staffing changes, we got back to the plan and made some relatively quick changes.
Firstly, it was checking in to establish if the longer-term plan was still valid in light of the changes. It was.
Then, it was identifying whether the short-term actions needed changing. On this, there were plenty of changes which needed to be made, and quickly. We changed our staffing levels, we changed who we hired, we changed the role that those people filled.
With those people onboard (welcome!) it was then a matter of resetting the plan. The reset saw us launch Convex Hub and Convex Cloud. It saw us keep building the existing service lines. It saw us get back on track.
The plan today is centered around the six pillars of business (which we work through with our coaching clients). Our current focus in each of these areas is as follows:
- People: We’re now rolling out personal development plans to (a) help our people grow and (b) keep them longer.
- Process: We’ve redoing how we push and prioritise jobs to get them out the door faster and quicker, and at the same time revised internal processes around billing and timesheets.
- Planning: We are keeping our business plan front of mind (instead of filing it in a drawer).
- Marketing: We’re rolling out some Google and Facebook advertising. Currently it’s not working, but watch this space.
- Sales: We’re trying to automate some of our education pieces to make them more targeted, which in turn strengthens our sales process.
- Data: Getting more granular targeted KPIs and reporting happening (switching from big picture to small detail).
More important than the reset though is the accountability to it. Three things drive the plan.
- Firstly, visibility. If you’ve been in the office and walked around the corner, there’s a wall covered in post-it notes. These mean we internally hold each other to account, and are clear about what we need to work on.
- Secondly, people. By sharing what we’re working on, then we’re more likely to follow through—accountability creates a culture where we push to get things done.
- Thirdly, relevance. The plan needs to be kept relevant for where we’re at today —no grand five-year plan, simply a direction of travel for 12 to 24 months broken down into small, achievable chunks.
Resetting for 2020
The new year (and new decade!) then becomes the time for us to reset higher-level plans for the business over the next year. 2020 for us looks like more of the same—growing the calibre of our existing people, streamlining to get jobs out quicker, and better marketing.
What does it mean for your business? If you’d like to step through how we plan for our business, then please contact us. We’d love to help.