New Year, new and improved plans. How does the leader of a multi-location dog training business approach the new year?
It’s hard to believe we are moving into the last month of 2021. Whether you create New Year’s resolutions or ignore the beginning of a new year, this is an important time for your business. The start of a new year is about new beginnings both personally and professionally. It’s the opportunity to plan for 2022 and this month I’m sharing some tips to ensure it’s a successful one.
I put time aside each December to review the past year. It’s time to reflect on the successes, challenges and changes that impacted the year. By doing a full review, you can ensure to eliminate bad habits, continue building on what’s working, and assess what may need to change. These are a couple things I include during my review:
This is a simple tool I use regularly within my business. Use it to record what is working (Keep), what is not working (Stop) and things you can begin doing (Start). It’s a great tool to have the whole team complete as this review makes it easier to identify challenges and opportunities. It’s very action oriented and provides good motivation and energy for the team, along with encouraging continual improvement.
Another simple tool where you outline the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats for the business. This is a great way to reflect on the internal and external factors that impact your business. It also helps you define your competitive advantage and/or what differentiates your business from others.
Goals provide clarity, direction, and focus. They help make decision-making easy, enable you to track progress, and keep you accountable. They are a key factor to success. Take the time to outline a plan that includes SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Constrained). I like to create a yearly Strategic Plan and outline quarterly goals within this. From there, I create a one-page document that outlines these goals and I keep it out to review it throughout the year.
You need to track your goals for this to be an effective tool. If you write them down and put them away, you will likely steer off in another direction and be unproductive. They are meant to be a fluid tool that can change as the year progresses. I value the opportunity to utilize goals as a way to motivate and hold myself accountable and to identify inefficiencies or challenges within the business in a more timely manner.
Do you struggle with time management? Are you feeling like you can never get everything done? It’s a perfect time to use the motivation of a new year to take control of your schedule. I’ve got a few tips to help work smarter, not harder for 2022.
Block your Calendar:
Plan out your week by chunking out periods of focus. I chunk time for admin tasks, content development, marketing, teaching, walking my dog, exercise and even my time off. By chunking my time, I can focus on the task at hand and minimize multi-tasking or other unproductive habits. The more disciplined I am with my schedule, the more freedom I enjoy.
After my goals are set, I prioritize and schedule them. I then ensure they are blocked in my schedule so unimportant tasks don’t interfere. By prioritizing, I have time set for this work and I the most important tasks are completed. I set monthly, weekly, and daily priorities so that I stay on task and can work within my schedule. No other projects/work happen until I complete my priorities.
This seems like an obvious one, but I am continually surprised by how many dog trainers do not set this as a priority. If it’s an area that you’ve ignored or don’t enjoy, consider hiring a professional. There are numerous ways to promote your business, so be sure to include these in your plan:
Where will you focus your time and what tools provide you the greatest return? Be sure to include a plan for your social media for 2022 and block time in your calendar for it. It’s an excellent free resource that enables you to promote your training services and show what sets you apart. Create blog posts and infographics and share them regularly. Stay on top of current events and trends to help increase engagement.
Don’t underestimate the power of networking. This is a wonderful and cost-effective way to build strategic partnerships and get your business in front of a variety of people. When looking ahead at 2022, be sure to include local associations and opportunities to network.
Include technology in your plan as there are so many benefits - from streamlining processes, to alleviating workload, and improving the customer service experience, this is an area you cannot afford to ignore. Check out my post on Technology for Your Dog Training Business for more info.
And finally, consider yourself and your needs when planning ahead for 2022. Dog trainers are unique in our passion for our work, and we often put the needs of others before our own. Be sure to include yourself in all the above when planning for 2022.
Is there a new skill you’d like to learn? This could be something specific to dogs, your business, or something unrelated. Learning a new skill has numerous benefits including keeping you motivated, engaged, and sharp. Consider something outside of dog training like business skills to help drive further success. Perhaps this is the year you invest in hiring or outsourcing? Take care of you this year to truly work smarter instead of harder in 2022.
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