What does it take to be ‘better’ than last year?

There are a number of seasoned business and marketing experts making money out of positioning themselves to help us have a better year than last year.

Selling products and services to help us upgrade challenging and unrealistic resolutions we’ve already failed at to more quantifiable objectives – and those objectives to action oriented goals.

Working through their processes will provide, they say, more meaning and more focus and allow us to really concentrate on small steps that get us closer to bigger achievements.

I had planned to write my own first post of 2015 on how I go about it. I still might, but the point to observe in most advice about goal setting is that it often fails to address two elements. Specificity and commitment.

Any plan needs to be have a long term win, a detailed approach and an understanding of the commitment required to achieve it.

All this is backed up by current published research I read from Forbes.com and the University of Scranton which suggests 92% of New Year’s resolutions fail.

So, what does it take to better than last year?

Most new year plans cover areas like work, personal finance and health. So, consider these scenarios:

1. You want to deliver A SET AMOUNT OF new business to your company.

There are lots of ways to start. Create more engaging content and serve it up to people where they want it. Set up more landing pages to secure their contact details and to start a conversation. Run pay per click campaigns with time sensitive offers. Speak at events and again make exclusive offers.

But starting isn’t enough. What do these new customers look like? Where are they? What are they in the business of? What problems do they have? Why should they buy from you? What is it going to take to convince them to give you a shot?

Winning new clients takes diligence and commitment to that fixed end point ensuring every task you undertake along the way gets you closer to where you want to be.

2. You want a new job.

You could register with recruitment agents. Apply for positions you see advertised. Ask your connections for referrals.

But that will only get you so far too. Think about what you enjoy, what you’re good at, what you have demonstrable experience in and look to match. Identify companies you want to work for and approach them.

Remember, your honed and relevant CV sent direct offers a 20% saving in recruitment fees to the potential hirer and could well get you through the door.

3. You want to lose weight this year.

Joining the gym is one way. Going regularly is another. You could go further by disrupting your training by doing different things every day. Stepping away from the biscuit tin or the liquor shelf another.

So when setting goals for the long term, think through the incremental steps, the why, when and how? Break your progress down into achievable steps.

Being better than last year means taking a leap of faith today, and everyday. It starts right here, right now. Are you with me?

You have competition

I’ve met and read about a clutch of companies recently that claim to have no out and out competition. A risky proposition in a globally focused, increasingly service economy.

One example is container security. A multi billion dollar business. Some companies provide locks and security, some providing tracking and tracing. One company claims to be the only one doing both. That doesn’t mean there is no competition – far from it, there is an abundance as all the players in security or tracking have a share of the pie.

The problem is magnified when products are commoditised by professional buyers.

We’ve seen how the fallout of the ash cloud has negatively affected airlines but delivered massive revenue for ferries, trains and hire car companies. Granted, it’s a difficult thing to plan for, but companies and tourist boards in the UK will now all be putting extra effort into promoting their offering to a larger number of people now likely to stay in the UK this summer.

This topical example demonstrates the importance of thinking outside the box when it comes to considering your competition – and factoring threats into your business planning.

Thinking outside the box is not the easiest thing to do. We all get tunnel vision but it is critical to keep an eye on what is going on in the market.

Today’s challenge: Set yourself fifteen minutes today to research broader competition using Google. Whether you are in packaging, adhesives, chemicals, tourism, publishing or insurance, there are other companies doing things differently and succeeding. Having them on your radar enables you to have a plan to tackle them.