Ahhh January… It’s summertime here in Australia. This is the time of year for long lazy days at the beach, rooftop bar cocktails with friends as the sun sets, mountain hikes, those new year vibes, and spending some time away from your laptop reflecting on how you’ll go after the goals you’ve set for the year ahead. That’s why, in this post, I’m sharing a slew of ideas to help you take your business to the next level this year.
For millions of entrepreneurs across the planet, big goals and visions will be scribbled into journals, pasted onto vision boards, and toasted across dinner tables this month.
And so many of us will have the same goal in mind:
“I’m going to take my business to the next level.”
But of course, exactly what that means for each of us is likely very different.
If you’re anything like me, the default strategy to get to “the next level” is historically some version of ‘work harder and longer hours’ to, for example, fit in extra clients, etc.
Look, I’m a fan of working hard.
I don’t see anything wrong with a little hustle, and if that’s how you prefer to work, run with that energy!
That said: I also don’t think hustle and hard work alone are necessarily the best ways to sustainably build your business and take it to the next level. I mean, at a certain point working harder and longer hours just isn’t physically possible.
And while you can push harder — putting more pressure on yourself and sitting in front of your laptop late into the night doesn’t necessarily equal or guarantee more income, enjoyment, or happier clients.
So what should you do instead? I’m so glad you asked, woman! I’ve got a few ideas.
So without further ado, here are 20 different strategies to consider when you’re asking yourself: “How do I want to take things to the next level in 2018?”
These aren’t direct orders by the way – just a few ideas I’ve been chewing over and journaling on that might spark something for you, and inspire you to work differently and smarter instead of harder this year, so you can get big things done in 2018.
#1: Start tracking the stuff that really matters in your business.
How much are you regularly tracking in your business at the moment? What kind of stats are you tracking? What data would be bloody helpful to have now that you don’t have, so you can make better decisions? How could you get your hands on that data?
Don’t get me wrong: Of course, going with your gut plays an important role in business, but the right data can help drive better decisions, and it can be an incredibly powerful tool.
#2: Hire expert help.
Now, even though they can be a goddess-sent, I’m not just talking about hiring a virtual assistant here. I’m talking about investing in expert help – think expert ads management, marketing automation, financial advice, copywriting, design, etc.
I know so many entrepreneurs who hesitate to engage experts because of the financial investment. Of course, it’s important to be price conscious and to manage your expenses, but at a certain point, it can be very, very helpful to work with experts or to invest in done-for-you type services.
Relying on your own expertise alone to direct every part of your business can be exhausting, overwhelming, frightening, tiring, and all kinds of less-fun things. It can also lose you money in the long run by the sheer hours you have to spend distracted from your zone of genius and lost opportunities. So perhaps it’s time to work with an expert who can help!
#3: Get strategic about demand generation.
Demand is about how you can get people really excited about the work that you do, which in turn generates leads. Having a solid demand generation strategy in place can help you stand out in a crowded marketplace. It forces you to think strategically about how you can get people excited to work with you over anyone else.
#4: How can you emphasise what makes you different?
Consider: What makes you different from your competitors, or others in your industry?
Are you super creative? Totally no-bullshit with your clients? Do you help people see extraordinary results? Are you a supernerd and always in-the-know about groundbreaking studies and tech in your industry? Are you an innovator? Or killer on video?
Whatever makes you different, find ways to bring this to the light more, so you can really get seen.
Up to a certain point, following systems is very, very helpful, and of course, being inspired by other people a little further along the path in your industry can be really great. But eventually? Being different and distinguishing yourself from the rest of the market is probably your power move.
#5: Go all in on what is working best now.
If you’ve got a few different services or packages that you offer, and one of them is really super popular, consider going all in and just offering that package. Then, have all of your marketing and lead generation prime people for that single offer.
Or, maybe rather than narrowing your offer, perhaps you know that a particular marketing technique, let’s say webinars, for example, works great for you. In that case, you might decide to put all your focus on really becoming masterful at webinars.
In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins makes an amazing point: You should put your best people on the biggest opportunities, not the biggest problems.
If you’re your only employee right now, the same principle applies. If something’s working really well, considering doubling down and really going for it.
#6: Focus on customer service.
It sounds simple (and a little unsexy) but there are truly so many ways to really improve customer service.
So many entrepreneurs (especially in their first few years) are so focused on generating clients, they forget to take care of them when they’ve actually arrived!
Being able to provide your clients with a really delightful experience from the beginning of the relationship straight through to the end can help you retain clients, generate loyal return customers, experience epic referrals, and build a stellar reputation.
Even refunds and returns can be turned into incredible experiences. We’ve found ways to turn those who ask for a refund into raving fans of Betty Means Business, even if the program wasn’t for them, because of how much we genuinely care and how easy we are to deal with.
#7: Focus on customer success.
This ties into the customer service bit above, but it’s equally important.
As you might imagine, “customer success” is about really helping your clients to get outrageous success from your programs/packages for as long as they’re under your care. (BTW this is something I’m really excited about focusing on in Betty Means Business even more this year!)
For example, maybe you could pump up customer success by helping people through your material or program, supporting them through it with live calls, an FAQ library, or just over email. This could include sending reminders, drip feeding content to them, following up with them, giving them extra tools and bonuses along the way, etc.
The more you focus on helping clients succeed? The better your professional reputation becomes. You’ll get some incredible case studies and testimonials that you’ll be able to use in a variety of ways. Clients that you’ve helped to have fantastic success with your offers are far more likely to become raving fans, share glowing feedback about you, and refer your services to their friends.
Anytime I get serious thinking about what I could actually delegate, I’m surprised to discover there is always more that I could pass on to someone else who’ll do it much better and more effectively than I ever could.
Delegating is game changing — so consider what you may want to hand off this year.
#9: Use sales funnels.
Ask yourself: Where could you set up funnels? How could existing funnels be improved?
Sales funnels are awesome for building relationships, generating qualified leads, and converting those leads into wonderful clients.
I know you might be leaning away from your screen right now thinking all those dry, boring, sales-market-type-things just aren’t for you — but when done well funnels aren’t clunky, awkward, and don’t lose the human element. Experience tells me they can actually help build awesome relationships with potential clients, and take your business to the next level by duplicating your energy and all the good that you want to share with people more easily than ever before.
Think about how you can, or where you could automate more in your business. I’m a big fan of the human element and keeping that human connection where it really counts. I’ve learnt that automation can help me create more connection, by freeing up my time.
I know in my own business, there is so much more that I could systematise and automate. It’s something I’m really excited about right now – and maybe you could look into it for your own business too.
Need some ideas about what to automate in your business? Check out my post on 9 tasks you can automate today.
#11: Take better care of yourself.
If you’re anything like me, you often forget that you are the ultimate asset in your business, and if you’re not performing at your top level, then it’s unlikely that your business will be performing to its fullest potential either.
(Note to self: Seriously Kate, please remind yourself of this truth erry damn day!)
So in 2018, why not join me in dedicating yourself to taking better care of YOU. Maybe that means exercising more, or getting more sleep, or eating better, or taking time out to get your nails done and go to the movies, meditating every morning, getting outside daily, or taking up a new hobby.
When it comes to all of those things, ask yourself: How you can you keep your “cup” full of things beyond work?
#12: Work with your strengths.
Honing in on your personal strengths and the strengths in your business, as opposed to worrying about your weaknesses, can totally change the game in the way you work and earn in 2018.
You might, for example, have a particular strength in public speaking, and feel really comfortable and excited on the stage. So instead of worrying about, say, mastering SEO (if that’s not a skill of yours currently), focus on ramping up your public speaking opportunities, and hand SEO stuff off to an expert instead of spending the next 6 months trying to learn everything about it.
#13: Get back to basics, and think about how solid your foundation really is.
Without a really, really solid foundation — think: having clear systems, a defined niche, clear target clients, etc. — you can’t grow.
By going back to basics and confirming that you have a solid foundation in place, you’ll make it much easier for yourself as you take your business to the next level.
#14: Take risks. Do something to step outside your comfort zone. Experiment.
Trying new stuff is how we avoid getting complacent in our businesses.
I know I’ve been talking a lot in this list about really focusing and going all in on what’s working best — but perhaps that doesn’t speak to you so much. And that’s OK! You can also still play around while focusing on what’s working.
Imagine: Spending 80% of your effort becoming masterful in your proven strengths, and the other 20% innovating and stepping outside of your comfort zone. What could you accomplish? What could shift?
#15: Revisit your vision to get really, really, crystal clear on what it is, and where it is that you’re hoping to go now.
Take the time to calibrate and revisit your vision and your goals, and fire yourself up about what the next level of your business will look like.
It can be really difficult when you’ve reached your initial goal (for example, hitting 6 figures, or being booked out) to be motivated to grow to the next level. Especially when you’ve smashed a revenue goal, you might even feel a bit guilty for going for more.
If that’s you, the key is to think bigger than yourself. For example, you might be able to recast your vision in a way that incorporates more social responsibility, impacts more people, or reaches a bigger audience. That is really exciting, and can be incredibly motivating.
#16: Do less.
Decide to get really, really laser-focused, specialise, and do less than you do now.
Consider: What can you pass off so you can focus on exclusively what you’re incredible at?
#17: Make learning a habit.
How can you consistently allocate regular time for personal and professional development?
BTW I recommend aiming for a mix between learning things from inside your industry and also looking outside your industry. Throw your net out wide and see what sparks interest for you. For me, this is the birthplace of innovation.
#18: Improve your personal leadership abilities.
Thinking of you as a leader, your role as a leader, and how you can better be the type of leader you hope to be can be really powerful.
How can you evolve and grow as a leader? This question is particularly relevant if going to the next level for you involves adding more people to your team (or building a team for the first time), growing your community, or impacting others.
Continuous learning and looking outside of your field is great, but don’t forget to give yourself time, space, and permission to access your own creativity, stick with a problem a little bit longer than you normally would or intentionally look at challenges in your business from a different perspective.
Give yourself permission and space to innovate as a thought leader, and see what happens as a result.
#20: Prioritise your success.
The most important thing to keep in mind in 2018? Really start thinking about which activities give you the biggest return on your investment and get you closer to achieving your vision or goals.
What are the tasks/projects that will serve your vision at the highest level? Allocate your resources accordingly.
Easy enough, right?
And that’s it for this epic post, lovely!
I hope you’ve enjoyed having this insight into the ideas and strategies I’m thinking about to grow Betty Means Business this year.
Now I’m dying to know: In this season of reflection and planning, what are you most interested in doing to take your business to the next level? Is it something on this list – or something you don’t see mentioned here?
Share below — and here’s to a brilliant start to 2018!