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Advisory Articles

Positioning for Success in the New Year

Did your organization achieve all of its goals for 2013? The New Year brings with it new opportunities to set new goals to help reboot your business and your team. It is also the perfect time to create new success and raise the bar for your organization. As you reflect on the changes you have experienced, success you have maintained and the concerns that lie ahead here are four simple points to keep in mind to help position your company for success in 2014 and beyond.

1. Look Globally. Today, even the smallest businesses can be global companies thanks to the information technology and advances allowing companies to do more with less and to compete with larger firms offering similar products and services. While it makes sense to begin close to home, as your organization grows, other countries may present you with opportunities such as: new markets, customers, suppliers, manufacturers, and partners. Looking internationally, you may find markets far more under served or profitable than your home market.

Perhaps 2014 is the year to consider a strategic plan that builds on your industry and regional strengths and connects your emerging and existing businesses with the innovation assets occurring on the global stage. Some strategies that aid in making a successful transition to the international scene include setting up multi-entity accounting, understanding foreign tax laws and codes, and managing multiple foreign currencies. Hiring an accounting and advisory firm to help with all the local tax codes and regulations is useful when breaking into the global market. They will be able to navigate your business through the different regulations and keep up with the different currency fluctuations.

2. Look to Your Competitors. It is critical to differentiate your company from others by offering products and services that will appeal to your customers in ways that your competition cannot. These are the corporate characteristics that make your business unique. Yet, simply developing a competitive analysis that reveals who your competition is and what they’re up to won’t necessarily help separate your business from the pack. You need to take a deeper dive and assess a full gamut of internal and external characteristics that includes such things as knowing their branding and marketing tactics to how they compensate employees and manage their business. Identifying similarities is a key component many organizations overlook as opportunities to differentiate too. For example your prospective customers may like certain things about your competition, and if you can offer them the same or even better products or services, you might win them over. Knowing your competition should be an ongoing, evolving experience and a regular exercise to include in your 2014 planning and beyond.

3. Look to Your Customers. Let’s face it – the economic crisis and its after math has affected all of us. Therefore, this year it will be important to take a closer look at your current client base. Ask yourself these tough questions:

  • Do we need to redefine our target audience and service focus? Has your audience and current client requirements and expectations changed due to the stagnant economy? Reviewing the data you hold on your customers can tell you a lot. Look for geographic and demographic trending that may help you redefine or confirm your target audience. Also look for patterns in regards to their purchasing behavior. These patterns should be able to tell you what services/products are still relevant and what may need to be improved or be dropped completely from your offerings. Above all, listen to your customer and see what they are asking for in terms of services and product opportunities. This can easily be done in a survey format or with in-person/phone discussions to your top consumers.
  • Can we enhance our current client relationships? Review your troublesome customer history and decide if what you have to go through to maintain a relationship with them is worth it. Culling customers from your client base, who have not been a good fit with your services or product for some time, may sound like a counter-intuitive strategy, but done correctly, it can work wonders for your bottom line and even impact your staff’s productivity and morale.

Overall, it is essential to truly understand your customers in the new economy and to develop a successful business and marketing strategy to retain and attract new ones. By spending the time to research and analyze your customers this year you will enhance your business strategy and future financial success.

4. Set Goals with a Less is More Attitude. Business success isn’t just a matter of a healthy bank account.  Think about what you really want to accomplish, no matter how outlandish it seems at first thought, and set your specific goals accordingly. A goal doesn’t have to be sweeping to be valuable; small goals are worth working on, too, because they can lead to big changes. However, don’t fall into the trap of having numerous goals. Too many goals can be distracting. The key is to set 2-3 specific goals with an action plan that outlines how you will achieve the goal and performance metrics for evaluating those goals.

Perhaps you are ahead of the game and you have already set your goals and developed your strategic plan for 2014. If so, take this month to review them with the “Less is More Attitude” and see if there are any goals you can streamline, make specific and/or add a performance metric.  Having clear; simple goals will ensure your organization attains achievable results by the end of the year.

Your organization’s growth in 2014 will depend on its ability to innovate, create, and reinvent the way it does business. Spark your ideas around these types of initiatives above and keep them manageable to help position your company for success in the New Year and beyond.

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KathyArticle Provided By Kathy Davis, CPA, CGMA MKS&H Managing Partner.

About MKS&H:

McLean, Koehler, Sparks & Hammond (MKS&H) is a professional service firm with offices in Hunt Valley and Frederick. MKS&H helps owners and organizational leaders become more successful by advising them regarding their financial, technology and human capital management needs.