The last couple years have been stressful, unpredictable, and rocky, to say the least. Getting back on track and accomplishing more in 2022 is going to take dedication and focus. This may feel like a major feat after so much uncertainty, but, rather than looking at the big picture, which can often seem daunting, let’s focus in on some key areas that will jump start a successful year.
How exactly do we reduce feelings of overwhelm and hone in on specific goals? Here are some key focus areas for success in 2022.
Focus on: Simplifying
We need to take it one step at a time. Focus on individual issues and their consequences rather than the overall uncertainty and stress in the economy and within ourselves.
A corollary of focus is “keep it simple stupid.” Simple also relates to the characteristics of your forecasts. Focus on factors that really affect your business so you can understand them and estimate factors that are not as significant. For example, look at aggregate costs and administrative expenses rather than trying to forecast small items like telephone, utility, and insurance costs on a monthly basis.
Simplify, wherever possible, so you do not lose sight of the forest for the trees.
Focus on: Change
While change continues to dominate and disrupt our society, we need to focus on solutions and improvements. The most recent examples are the resurgence of COVID cases, the uncertainty of “build back better,” and inflation, which will have an unknown impact on our economy and political environment.
The post-pandemic changes we’re seeing should be viewed as a critical opportunity to improve sales, profit, and competitive positioning. While there are some technical aspects to this, it is the thinking and integration of the components that can lead to success. Read more on this topic here.
Bottom line: Forecasts are often wrong. Change is inevitable. Be prepared to be flexible.
Focus on: Technology
Despite the fluctuations, there are several tools for executing solutions and gains in 2022. These are based on the strong growth and development we’ve seen, especially in technology, over the last few years.
Technology is accelerating and will have long-term effects on our economy as well as our lifestyles. Tech companies like Facebook, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon are dominating. Tech stocks still represent about 50% of growth in the S&P and tech is the focus of many startup ups.
Focus on: Prioritizing
We have too many choices, but aren’t informed about our options. Cheese, beer, bread, and turkey breast are among the most over-assorted products in our lives, but stores spend little time educating customers on varieties, taste, and price of different products. Making it a priority to educate consumers about their options would improve customer satisfaction.
Additionally, prioritize providing what consumers actually want and how they want to get it. Amazon had about 22-24% of all web traffic this holiday season and, yet, we’re still talking about less successful alternatives like retail and Internet outlets.
Consider Focused versus Comprehensive solutions: There is a big difference between ensuring that you focus on key issues and trying to cover every possible variable. We frequently make decisions and develop strategies based on general goals and assumptions rather than focusing on specifics.
Prioritizing can dramatically improve results. Focus on what you are good at and pay less attention to your weaknesses. Much of analytics in sports is based on getting players to focus on the efforts with the greatest probability of success.
Focus on: Removing bias from data
Comparing forecasts to 2021, 2020, and 2019 requires some special consideration to understand the differences. The biggest problem with forecasting is bias. And, whether we admit it or not, we all have them. Analysts love to discuss mathematical formulas and measurement in affecting bias, but most bias, especially in small businesses, is simply human. Your assumptions, analysis, and data can all unknowingly affect results.
A key element of balancing expectations and probability is to develop, test, measure, and adapt.
Focus on: Risk
We are frequently afraid of risk when dealing with the rapid changes in our society and environment. The Internet, digital technology, mobile phones, Google, and Amazon are examples of technology that is transforming our lives. Relying on old methods and a “we’ve always done it that way” mentality can actually be riskier than adapting and making change.
Focus on: Process
Many planning programs put financial objectives at the end of the process. Developing financial parameters at the beginning and then revising as programs develop has many benefits. It particular, it can help you avoid pursuing poor paths and highlight opportunities.
Additionally, work to create a more open and honest culture, which encourages open communication and collaboration. Empower your staff and management, and trust your employees. This may require reassessing your current workflow and hiring process to ensure you are hiring and training good people, giving them the authority they need to do their jobs well, and understanding that they will make mistakes at times.
As we head into a year new, what are some specific areas you’d like to improve? Focus on those. Try to channel your energy into clear goals rather than on general ideas. And remember that success takes time and consistency. It may not happen overnight, but if you keep putting in the work, you will see progress.
Related: Do We Not Hear or Not Listen?