Guest Author Erica Wolfe-Murray is one of the UK’s leading business and innovation experts. She is also the founder of Lola Media.
Just as January is the month when many of us get our health and fitness back on track after the blowout of Christmas, it’s the perfect time to do the same thing with your business. With a fabulous year ahead, just like a blank sheet paper, it’s important to make a plan. To kick-start the process, here is a list of suggestions to put you on course for a fulfilling year ahead.
If you are prone to ignoring the legal/red tape elements, get to grips with them.
Review all your contracts with clients, suppliers and staff – are they fit for purpose? Have they been idle for so long that their usefulness is questionable? One client of mine, supplying high quality fitness wear, realised they’d omitted a clause in a supplier contract covering loss of earnings should he supply faulty materials. Little tweaks like this can make a huge difference when things go awry.
Are you in the wrong relationship with your clients?
Many companies are in a parent/child relationship with clients which is unhealthy and often less profitable. Both parties should respect each other and be partners in the relationship. The contract between you should be fair to both sides, not giving one greater control than the other. Even if your business is in a face-to-face relationship, your client should value your expertise and respect the service you offer. Altering attitudes is free of charge, but can reap rewards in the long-term.
Registering your IP (intellectual property)
Registering a trademark is simple and easy – either direct on the Intellectual Property Office website or through an IP attorney. Doing this sooner will save heartache later if you discover someone else has registered the company name you’ve been using offering a similar product to you. But do ensure you are doing it for the right commercial reasons. If you are a designer, it may be worthwhile registering design rights too. Most companies do not have anything that is patent-worthy, but remember that copyright is an automatic right – if you create something, you own it. You can’t copyright an idea, but the product, artwork and design that you create from this idea is your copyright.
Start to understand how to increase the revenue streams in your business.
If you are paid for your time as most therapists, designers, accountants, and others are, it isn’t sustainable to rely on your team showing up every day to do the work. If you don’t work, you don’t get recompensed. I encourage every company to develop at least 4 or 5 revenue streams that are a mix of value models. If they are selling a service, what product could they offer? This could be a book, an app, an online learning course. What knowledge do you have that people would pay to learn? Does the data you collect within your business exhibit interesting behaviour models that could be the early shoots of a new trend, unlocking value to a third party?
If you can implement and consider all of the above throughout the year, this time next year your business will be in an infinitely stronger position to weather the ups and downs of commercial life.