Dan_Weedin_034This is my January 2020 column for the Kitsap Business Journal and Kitsap Sun. I’m celebrating 10 years as a monthly columnist. In fact. my first column was January of 2010! Many thanks to the Kitsap Sun for a great relationship. On to the next 10 years!

Welcome to the Roaring 20s!

While the original Roaring 20s were identified by the Prohibition era, extravagant living, and ultimately financial collapse, these “Roaring 2020s” are open for your own interpretation. One hundred years later, the business world now belongs to more people and has become a global economy, even for the smallest of businesses. Are you ready to begin the next decade like a lion?

You must view this decade as an opportunity unlike any in history to grow your business, unleash your career, and thrive in life. Unlike almost all past decades, the potential of your business is unlimited. The question is; will you be using tools and resources based on past decades or will you be innovating and forging your own path using new ideas, modern mechanisms, and platforms that have yet to be created?

What will be required of you will be far different that 100 years ago. Back then, our lifestyle was unimaginable. The incredible thing for us is what the next decade brings might be unimaginable to us today.

In order to grow, unleash and thrive in the next 10 years, you need to invest time, energy, and resources into short and long term vision. Yes, the cliche isn’t lost on me; creating a 2020 vision for the future. But once we get past the cleverness, we must roll up our sleeves like the old days and get to the business of forging that vision.

There are the three areas to begin focusing on today that will help you plan your company’s next decade: Strategic growth planning, technology to leverage your business, and strengthening your organization through employee recruitment and retention.

Strategic Growth Planning:

Everyone wants to grow their business but not everyone invests the time in strategically planning for it.

Strategic planning means bringing your key leadership or executive team together for a full day (or two) of planning how you will grow your business. That meeting can be done in person or virtually. Utilize technology to include everyone that has a voice, even if they are outside your organization.

I just returned from Montana helping my client do just this. They invested a day with me to shape and formalize their plan for 2020 and beyond. This family-owned company has been in business over 40 years, yet they realize their industry is changing fast and they need to be leading the charge. What about you?

The focus of your session should be on issues surrounding sales and marketing, innovation, new audiences, improved efficiency, and business continuity and succession planning.

Each of these areas deserves conversation and understanding of the organization’s direction. The reason is they all focus on the two most important aspects of business: revenue generation and protection of wealth.

In the next decade, your value proposition and ability to reach your target market profitably and broadly will be critical to your success. Additionally, your ability to recover quickly from any type of calamity may save hundreds of thousands of dollars and keep you in business. This is an area that often is overlooked; don’t make that mistake. Plan that your ability to continue in business through this decade and beyond is assured.

Technology in your business:

You don’t need me to tell you that technology is not only changing rapidly, but also has a volatility that can be both scary and exciting. Certainly, we have little idea today of what technology will look like 10 years from now. A decade ago, we couldn’t have predicted to abundance of changes to how we live and work; things like mobile apps, digital keys, and smart homes and offices.

We all need to be attentive in understanding how technology is changing and importantly, what our clients expect from us in return. Lack of innovation can kill a small business. Fortunately, your ability to be nimble comes in handy when it comes to speed of decision-making.

Here are areas you should be examining, reviewing, and charting innovation in for your business technology:

— Your website. Is it up to date with images, copy, contact information, and tools? Are your clients able to chat or connect with you in real-time?

— Mobile apps. You might say not every business needs one. That’s what we might have said about web sites and blogs at one time! In the next several years, will your clients expect and demand an app from you?

— Social media marketing. How will you most effectively reach your target audience? I’m not talking about your audience today, but rather those that will be buyers in 5 and 10 years. How are they influenced? Do you need to improve your game with video, podcasts, and blogs?

— Infrastructure. If your technology doesn’t work or becomes attacked, you can’t operate. Everyone needs an expert – either internal or external – to assure that the infrastructure is sound and constantly updated.

Employee recruitment and retention:

Just because our world has adopted more Artificial Intelligence, your employees are often still the face of your business. Relationships still matter, and always will. It’s become more important than ever that you recruit people that will value your culture and grow with you.

Once recruited, it becomes your job to properly develop and trained them. Too often, employers don’t invest the energy and resources into assuring new employees are “onboarded” and mentored properly.

Employees of this generation value financial well-being, but it’s not everything to them. How they are treated and what opportunities they have for career growth and development are also high on their list. By creating a thoughtful and intentional program on developing employees in the 2020s, you will be more assured that your company will be creating a legacy for everyone.

The new age “Roaring 2020s” are upon us. Unlike 1919, we have much more to think about when it comes to both our business and personal goals and dreams. Are you prepared to “roar?”

Happy New Decade!

Dan Weedin is a strategist, speaker, author and executive coach. He helps small business and middle market business leaders and entrepreneurs to grow more profitably and create a better life. He was inducted into the Million Dollar Consultant™ Hall of Fame in 2012. You can reach Dan at 360-271-1592; e-mail at [email protected] or visit his web site at www.DanWeedin.com.

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