New Years Resolutions for Business

hardwood lumber new years resolutions blogThese past 12 months were tough ones for the hardwood lumber industry. I would suspect that many of us are looking forward to the new year!

Like in years past, I would bet many business leaders will decide upon New Year’s resolutions aiming to improve both their personal and professional lives. They will be determined to broaden their perspective, embrace new business trends, and work to make 2024 a better year than the one in the rear-view mirror.

With that in mind, perhaps some of these resolution ideas might be worthy of consideration!

Be more customer centric. Another way to say it could be to look at the business through a customer’s eyes. Sure, you know your company inside and out, but when was the last time you stopped to experience the business through the eyes of your customer? For us that could mean reviewing how customers receive our hardwood stock lists, what they see on their invoices, how they obtain hardwood lumber pricing, etc.

As we have suggested before, now is a great time to “examine a typical customer journey through your business—all the touchpoints at which a customer engages with your company (website, marketing, sales and delivery).”  Undertaking this exercise will likely yield fresh insights into where business operations meet the challenge of customer needs, and where they don’t.

Be more of an “extreme listener” with your employees.  What if you were able to pay closer attention to what employees are saying? Most business leaders agree that employees are the lifeblood of their organizations. But how often do they stop and listen to what their workforce is really telling them? Could there be an unmet customer need being expressed? Is it possible a more profitable approach could be found?  If there’s too great a gap between employer and employees, the chances of disengagement increase—not what businesses hope for.

If need be, consider conducting more employee surveys. “To get the most open responses and really give your company the chance to voice their opinions, ensure that people can submit responses without having to identify themselves,” advises Outback Team Building & Exercises. The anonymous survey responses you receive may often unexpected insights and answers to nagging business obstacles.

Carve out more time for strategic thinking. Business leaders face the perennial challenge of finding enough time in the day to get everything done. But those who get mired in day-to-day operational issues risk losing the opportunity to detach from the commotion and devote time to thinking about the business’s future.

If, as GrowthForce maintains, as much as “15-20% of a CEO’s brain should be focused on strategic thinking,” the new year is a great time to “shift from being tactical to strategic, where you divvy your time … to further your company’s goals.”  After all, if you don’t take time to contemplate the future, who else in the business will?

Reduce everyday distractions. Did you get sidetracked by social media or other internet follies in 2023? These and other diversions serve little purpose beyond distracting us all from more important matters.

One practical approach to reducing distractions might be to request that your team assume more operational responsibilities, freeing you up to focus more on business strategy. For us that might mean find ways to delegate more daily decisions on things like kiln drying schedules, white oak sorting tables or S4S lumber packaging needs.  If you do, you’ll likely feel more productive when you look back at your day and see that you’ve made progress on future planning for business success.

Embrace flexibility. Let’s face it—the best resolutions and business goals sometimes give way to unanticipated changes in market conditions. So, while it’s imperative that business leaders devise promising goals and determine priorities that better utilize finite resources—things can happen that throw all of our best-laid plans out the window.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce recommends maintaining flexibility as the new year gets underway: “Be prepared to adapt your resolutions as new challenges and opportunities arise.” The ability to change course as circumstances demand may serve as a key competitive advantage in the year to come.

As a leader, what New Year’s business resolutions are you making for 2024? Let us know!

Happy New Year!

Tony C.
The Baillie Group
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