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How are You Starting 2023?

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Global political uncertainties, dismal economic projections, rising inflation rates, overly high basic goods prices and floodings. These are just some of the things that welcomed us into the new year. Still, the government forecasts 6.5 percent economic growth this 2023, positive the declining unemployment rate and steady banking system could help make the economy even more resilient and our lives much better.

Businesses know political and macroeconomic factors have an impact on company performance and growth. In many cases, these even influence business direction or goals, even budgets and resources. But businesses also know that there are things that they can do or ways they can strategize to increase their chances of success or turn the tide should roadblocks start appearing.

Review previous year’s performance. As when doing individual New Year’s resolutions, businesses cannot not step back and evaluate the good, bad and ugly from the previous year to be able to plan anew.

But how else can you make this review different or more effective than before, that is presuming you do business self-evaluation at all? Have you tried corroborating reports and data with interviews with key people? Some reports simply cannot fully capture what is happening on the floor. Inversely, interviews with key people may not reflect the complete picture and may even be very subjective and unreliable. In all, note what worked and what did not, what was effective, what kept the teams from achieving goals.

In some corporate setups, the teams do a regular evaluation of their weakest link or links throughout the year and then get back to these reports during the annual review. This helps in identifying areas for improvement or team members who need more help. If budget cuts cannot be helped, such data can provide some guidance as well. So it goes without saying that if necessary, the year-end review can include human resource evaluation as well.

Firm up plans and goals for the year. The first quarter is usually business planning season. Although more companies try to get the planning gears rolling at the last quarter of the previous year by preparing and/or reviewing marketing, sales and other reports, the actual planning happens when the next year rolls in.

How do you plan to take your business to the next level this year? Based on your performance the previous year, what needs to be changed, improved or even dropped? What lessons have you learned that would empower you to make better business decisions this 2023?

These are just some of the questions to ask yourself and your teams. The answers would guide you in charting the course for the year. Based on the main business plan, prepare team-based or department-based goals. Then draw up action plans with milestone check points for meeting these goals.

Present the year’s goals and plans to the rest of your teams.None of your business goals will move forward if your teams are not aware of them and what needs to be done to achieve them. Involve your people. They are the ones on the frontlines. Besides, engaging them early on increases the success rate.

Remain true to your vision. Is your business still on the same path as when you started or established it? Have you remained firm on the same mission and vision?

Keeping to a business’ core can be difficult, particularly for companies that have been around for so many years. As you evaluate your business and set goals for the new year, ask yourself if pursuing the same vision is still relevant for you or if you’ve strayed from your original purpose and if that’s okay. If the latter, re-evaluate your goals to be certain these are aligned with your new mission and vision.

Align PR and marketing with business goals. We know PR and marketing are the first to go out the window when and if budgets drop, but it won’t hurt to push for your PR and marketing activities nevertheless. Engage your internal PR team much more closely. If you don’t have an internal PR team, present your annual plans to your PR and marketing partners and work with them on how best to communicate these to your target audiences and engage them better.

Would you be working with the same agency? Or should you get a new one? The answer largely depends on whether your current agency actually knows your mission and vision and your targets for the year and how to best communicate these to your audiences. The challenge for you is to assess how well your partner agency knows your business and if they would go the extra mile to work with you and help you grow.

Make sure your PR and/or marketing strategy aligns and complements your goals for the year. This strategy should also reflect your company’s mission and vision and overall brand positioning.

Pursue sustainability and social responsibility goals. With today’s woke audiences, businesses and brands are expected to take on and try to fix societal issues. Not that you should join the bandwagon for the sake of joining. But wouldn’t it benefit your business in the long term to be sustainable and contribute to the community at the same time?

When we say pursue, we don’t mean a one-time, big-time act of good will with media coverage to boot. Pick one or a couple of issues you care about as a business or something that you deal with in your industry yourself. Be truthful and sincere in your initiatives. Audiences can tell when you’re faking it. Draw up a years-long plan of action for your chosen cause, with the programs lined up involving your people and the community. Small businesses may be challenged capital-wise to invest in such programs but you’d be surprised to know that many small enterprises have benefitted significantly by being attuned to and working with the environment and the society much more closely.

Brand activism has become a buzzword in recent years, and for many good reasons. Besides creating positive awareness for one’s brand, it engages both internal and external stakeholders, which then helps build trust and brand credibility and loyalty.

Rediscover and harness your brand voice. Many businesses fall into the trap of thinking that in order to stay relevant and top of mind among customers they have to follow the trends. It’s true enterprises must keep up with trends, market developments and all other changes in the industry.

But following trends that do not necessarily align with your business and brand could jeopardize how your brand is perceived. This is because consistency in brand personality and voice is crucial in communicating and resonating with your audience.

But have you established your brand voice to begin with? If not, this new year is the most opportune time to start working on this. If you have, then the question for you is: Have you conquered the din of too much information, innovation and changes to protect and keep your brand voice?

Perhaps by creating a presence on all social media platforms you have diluted your brand positioning? Social media is a great information platform and in some ways helps level the playing field, allowing for even the smallest of businesses to have a voice. But discern where on the social media universe you ought to be, which platform would serve your brand and audience better because not all platforms would.

Flow with the times. Invest in tech and innovation. Explore technology, whether hardware or software, that will boost efficiency and productivity within your organization and, at the same time, enhance service and quality for your customers.

If you’re in the retail sector, for example, look into apps that speed up payment processing or delivery. The fintech sector is growing, and the plethora of solutions available now can meet the varied demands of businesses.

Regardless of industry, you can look into migrating processes to digital or adopting applications that can simplify operations. HR and finance tasks, for instance, can now be easily facilitated and monitored using new programs. The initial cost may set you back a little but the long-term advantages could outweigh this.

Invest in capacity building, in particular your people. If there’s one thing the pandemic taught businesses, it is the importance of adaptability. Companies and organizations need to improve resources, skills and processes to quickly adjust to changes. Thriving in today’s fast-paced world necessitates constant upskilling and reskilling: Modifying an internal process would already require training for the teams involved. What more adopting a new technology?

As you launch new programs to advance your goals for the year, don’t forget your most importance resource – your people. Charity begins at home, and your business can’t grow its community without having first built its home.

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