Enough with the 2011 predictions – Evaluating Opportunities
For the past few days I have mostly stayed away from the internet, I gave my team time off for New Year and after finishing a beta version of cool new plugin we have been developing.
Yesterday when I logged in to social media for the first time in a few days I saw a plethora of people in many niches declaring their predictions of what will happen in 2011; what new sites are going to be big, what the best new way to do marketing this year, what’s the new social media thats going to take off and even what are the top arbitrage opportunities to make money this year.
Trends are important but….
Don’t get me wrong, you should always pay some attention to trends and I do believe things like Facebook advertising are a game changer, but this year isn’t that much different than last year, or the one before that. Good businesses with good products will find good ways to sell them and everyone who stands around and watches with out taking action, will likely make no money.
See, the thing with predictions is some people will get some right, most will get most wrong but the end of the day none of them will mean anything to your business if you aren’t focused on the fundamentals of getting new customers, giving them great products and delivering value.
Things will change throughout the year and new opportunities will come up and some that seemed were going to be big will fall by the wayside. Ask yourself, how many people this time last year predicted Groupon? See, things are going to come up and surprise you along the way, that’s what business and life is about. So how do you decide which opportunities to take ….
How to interpret these predictions as opportunities for your business
Ask yourself these questions and use your answers to guide you as to what actions you will take:
1. Is this opportunity really important enough that I need to change my current strategy and actions?
There is no use jumping from opportunity to opportunity unless you can clearly see how this is going to substantially improve your business in a clearly measurable way.
2. Are we doing something like this already? Can we create leverage?
Often you are doing something like this already and then just expand that to encompass this new opportunity. This is especially true of things like social media for your business. At the end of the day, its talking to your customers. If you can leverage to have you post one message and it goes out to 20 different places, it means a wider reach for you, without the added work.
3. How will this bring us customers?
Be really clear about how this opportunity will deliver customers. There is no point you spending 20 hours a day on something that is not instantly increasing your sales. Even if its important long term, at first you need to focus on what’s going to deliver customers today.
4. Is this a marketing, sales, product creation or customer support opportunity?
This question builds on the previous two. Be clear about where this new opportunity fits in with with what you are already doing. If its a fantastic customer support opportunity and that’s not a problem you currently have then put it on hold and focus on the real problems you have at the moment.
5. Who is going to be responsible for this? What resources are you going to allocate to this?
If you are just starting out by yourself or have a very small team you can’t expect to be on 25 social media sites (without serious leverage ) and be doing everything you need to be doing to grow your business like getting customers, creating a solid backend and building the processes to get these things on autopilot.
6. What processes can you create that will allow this to be outsourced or automated?
Now is the greatest time for creating the right processes in your business. Once you have these processes you then need to get them automated or done by other people so you can focus truly on growing your business.
7. How are we going measure the results?
Whether its fan interaction on your Facebook fan page or amount of visitors on your blog, you MUST be measuring the results. While here is not the place to go exactly in detail to what and how you should be measuring I will say start by measuring things that bring you or cost you money. Its your balance sheet most of all that will determine whether your business stays alive or dies. This is as true for a corner store as it is for a multi national company.
What you should be focusing on
As an entrepreneur and a business owner you need to be focused on your business, not what’s the coolest new thing on the internet or how to get more followers on twitter that won’t ever buy anything from you.
You need to focus on building the best and fastest systems for getting new customers, creating great products for them and providing great customer support. You need to be measuring your results to be constantly improving these key fundamentals of your business.
Overall don’t be distracted by things that are shiny, bright and new. Just because some blogger online thinks that something will be the biggest thing in 2011, doesn’t mean at the end of the day that’s what’s going to be right for your business.