How did things turn out for you in 2014? Are you happy with your business results? How many new clients did you acquire? Was your private practice profitable? This is the time of year we often pause and ask ourselves these questions, doing a mental accounting of exactly what happened last year in our business. What went right, what went wrong, what worked, and what didn’t? Then, if we aren’t happy with the answers to these questions, we often try to find a way to get back on track for a happier new business year.
Many of us are really good at making and implementing plans for our business — we plan on getting new clients, we plan to be quoted on national media outlets, we plan to write the next great diet book. How many of these plans have come true for you? If you are like most of us, and are still out there working in the dietary trenches, maybe this is the year to make a change and finally figure out a way to make something different — something better — actually happen.
What is the secret? Implement, track and adjust. Before I changed careers and became a registered dietitian nutritionist, I spent a number of years as an entrepreneur and business owner. The most important lesson I learned from these years was this tip — you can make all the plans in the world for your business, and absolutely nothing will happen unless you implement, track and adjust throughout the year.
Let’s say you want to concentrate on client acquisition in 2015. You need to ask yourself this question: Where are my clients likely to come from? Referrals from doctors and other health professionals? People from my child’s school or daycare center? People who hear me speak at local community events? People who read my blog or that I'm active with on social media? Once you’ve answered these questions, you are ready to make a plan.
Let’s say you believe that your child’s school is the best place to meet new clients. Maybe you already have a few clients among the families you know, you enjoy working with this type of client, and you are already involved in the school community as a parent and maybe as a volunteer.
So you make a plan — you’re going to volunteer to speak at the PTO meeting about healthy eating for young families, you’re going to write a column for the school newspaper on nutrition tips throughout the year, and you’re going to host a healthy eating and games night at your house for the few families that you are already acquainted with. OK, now you’ve got the plan, do you remember the secret? That’s right — implement, track and adjust.
So what does this look like?
IMPLEMENT: Get dates on your calendar now. Make the first call and send out the emails needed to get things scheduled. Write the first article and send it in.
TRACK: Create a spreadsheet that tracks your activity. What did you do? When did you do it? When did you follow up the first time? When did you follow up the second time? The third time? What happened as a result?
ADJUST: Mark your calendar for mid- to late-March to sit down and assess your results to date. Review your plan, review your tracking spreadsheet, figure out what worked and what didn’t, and then make adjustments as needed to your plan.
That’s it. Repeat as necessary throughout the year. Before you know it, you’ll be celebrating your success with a happy new business year!