Justin B.Stivers T H E L AW O F F I C E S O F A P R O B AT E F I R M
Is Your Strategic Plan Static or Dynamic?
How Our Firm Goes About Goal Setting
Without a plan for where you’re going, it’s really easy to run in circles with your business operations. You can lose sight of what really drives success when you’re just spinning your wheels. That’s why it’s pivotal to sit down and go through the process of strategic planning. Setting goals and evaluating the future of your business gives you a target to aim for and a path to follow. Most companies go through this process every year and implement new strategies at the beginning of January, but I like to do it every quarter. Life has a way of changing throughout the year, and I think it’s important to adapt your goals to your environment. Once every three months, I’ll block out some time and find a location that inspires me to want more from my business and myself. I’m motivated by the ambiance around me, which is why I love Miami. It’s a city that is buzzing with vibrancy, and that helps me when I’m doing big-picture thinking. Sitting down in a lobby at a South Beach hotel is all the motivation I need to set goals that will grow my business and help me reach more people. I start by looking at the different areas of my business. Operations, finances, marketing, conversions, sales, and client success all go through an in-depth analysis. When I look at each area, I like to see the result I want and work backward from that. It could be streamlining a process, getting more reviews from clients, or expanding the budget, but I ascribe a goal to each area of business, and I set up the processes needed to achieve them. The objectives I set are very dynamic, which is a little different than what you might hear from business experts. Rather than having a static goal that’s written down, the target is always moving. If it looks like the firm is getting close to achieving what
was outlined in the plan, I move the goal so that we’re always pushing forward. In some cases, constantly adjusting like this can cause the sense of achievement to be lost, so I have to take notice of when I meet a goal and see that everything is progressing. I’m a competitive person by nature, so this approach helps me constantly push myself. As the firm grows, we might change how we go about recognizing accomplishments, but for what we’re doing now, it’s all about forward progress. While many of the aspects of the business go under the microscope once a quarter, how we approach marketing is constantly being adjusted. I look at our marketing almost weekly because it requires more attention and frequent micro-adjustments. When you’re scaling a business, auditing each cent becomes pivotal to long-term success. The
dollars you send out in the world have to come back with friends.
It might seem that constantly moving goals around is a narrow-sighted view of the big picture, but I’m always aware of what my objective is. I carry a notecard with me everywhere I go that has my five-year goal written on it. Having that present and available always helps me have the perspective needed to accomplish what I’ve set out to do. With it at the top of my mind, all I need to do is combine work ethic and effective management principles to make sure our services can reach as many people as possible. _Justin B. Stivers
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Personal New Year's Resolutions Aren’t the Only Ones That Fail Why Your Business Goals Won’t Work At the end of the year, entrepreneurs sit down to develop their goals for the new year. They craft specific objectives based on best practices they learned from other leaders, implementing S.M.A.R.T. goals or strategic plans to give their company a clear path to success. But every year, perfectly crafted benchmarks fall by the wayside and join weight loss on the scrap heap of New Year’s resolutions. Owners scratch their heads wondering why they didn’t reach their target, not understanding the root cause of their failure. You can have the most carefully planned- out goals, but if you haven’t built a foundation on these three concepts, you’ll never achieve them. Organization Nothing derails a goal faster than ineffective systems and processes. Procedures aren’t dynamic, so as your business changes, an audit of processes isn’t just useful; it’s necessary. But as your business must continue to improve its organization in order to adapt to change, so do your team members. At the root of every system is an employee, so without teaching basic principles of time management and prioritization, those systems are limited in their capacity and effectiveness. Communication Negative external and internal relations are surefire goal- killers. Internally, the success of your company is dependent on the dynamics between team members, management, and leaders. Complacency and gossip tend to spread like wildfire and can cause a dip in productivity. External communication between partners and potential clients is very similar. Without clear expectations and mutual respect in relationships, your business will cease to scale. Customer Service Clients need to feel valued to have a future with your business, and that’s rooted in every interaction. Customer service is a broad term that is often miscategorized. In truth, every role is based on customer service, but many people go about it wrong by taking on the attitude of “It’s not my job.” Lack of ownership and willingness to serve customers in every capacity will undermine any long-term objectives your company may have. The good news is that with proper execution of these three concepts, you can focus on attaining your goals, and in the process, achieve levels of success you previously thought impossible. Don’t let your objectives for the new year fall by the wayside. Achieve those goals by rooting your business in organization, communication, and customer service.
Satisfied With Last Year’s Performance? Are You Sure You Should Be? Calculate Customer Churn — And Learn How to Reduce It in 2019
You’re looking over last year’s numbers, feeling pretty satisfied about the results for 2018. Production increased and you have a lot to feel proud of overall. But what about those customers or subscribers who said goodbye to you in 2018? If you haven’t yet calculated your end-of-year churn, you should feel a little less comfortable. Looking at that churn rate is key to your business’s success. Most business owners say that if they could change one thing about their business, it would be their customer churn rate. Retention is key to success because it almost always costs less to retain a client than it does to attract a new one. Increasing client retention and reducing churn in the coming year can only happen if you know what your churn rate was last year. Calculating Churn It’s not rocket science! One of the most straightforward ways to express yearly churn is to calculate it as a percentage of customers lost: Divide the number of customers you started with in 2018 by the number of customers you lost in 2018. Churn can also be measured by the value of recurring business lost or as a percentage of recurring value lost. Choose the measurement that makes the most sense for your business. Why is this number so important? Think about it this way: Beyond representing how many customers flew the coop in 2018, churn represents an exponential loss of profit. Each year those lost clients don’t do business with you, you lose a year’s worth of potential revenue. By tracking customer churn throughout the year — ideally quarterly — in addition to end-of-year churn, you’ll begin to notice trends that you can address. Does the highest churn always happen in the third quarter? Did you sell more subscriptions in 2018 but lose more longtime customers in the course of chasing those leads? Noticing how these threads lead back to your losses is the first step in decreasing your churn rate. Of course, it’s impossible to calculate your customer churn if you haven’t been tracking and measuring it throughout the year. If you haven’t, you now have the opportunity to do so for the coming year. Add monitoring these numbers to your resolutions for 2019.
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A New Year in Digital Marketing
Strategies You Need to Try in 2019 Hubspot has some advice on optimizing your website SEO for voice search at Blog.hubspot.com/marketing/how-to- optimize-for-voice-search. Say Hello to Chatbots We didn’t listen when science-fiction movies warned us, and now AI is taking over the world. But maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Programs like chatbots have become more sophisticated and are being hailed as the future of lead generation. Deployed on websites, through Facebook messenger, or even via text message, chatbots can answer common questions and shepherd visitors through your digital funnel. Start learning the basics about chatbots at Bit.ly/ChatBotMagazine. Technology continues to evolve and is constantly affecting the business world in new ways. As a result, it’s shaping up to be an interesting year in marketing. Keep an eye out for opportunities to incorporate these trends into your marketing strategy.
HAVE A Laugh How are you ranking on voice search? Asking Siri or Alexa to find something online brings up fewer results than searching through a web browser. ComScore estimated that half of all online research will be done through voice search by 2020, which means that if your website isn’t voice-search friendly, half of your audience may never hear about you. Creating a successful marketing campaign requires foresight and adaptability — especially these days. Technology and consumer habits are rapidly changing, and using what worked in 2018 won’t necessarily be the right move in 2019. To help you determine your strategy for the coming year, here are a few rising marketing trends worth your consideration. Market With a Trusted Source eMarketer found that 30 percent of internet users have ad- blocking software installed on their devices, meaning that a big chunk of your audience will never see your online ads. But even users who do see online ads often don’t trust them. A 2015 Nielsen study found that consumers are far more likely to choose a company to do business with based on word of mouth, branded or editorial sites, and reviews. When planning your digital marketing strategy, learn how to incorporate these trusted sources in order to get your brand out there. Optimize for Voice Search
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Inside This Edition
Dynamic Goals Are the Keys to Success
Why Acknowledging Customer Churn Is Key to Success in 2019
Are Your Business Goals Doomed to Fail?
Marketing Trends to Watch in 2019
Have a Laugh
Essential Strategies to Court New Hires in 2019
How to Draw the Best New Hires in a Record-Breaking Labor Market 3 Strategies for Success Finding good employees has always been hard, but in the economic environment of 2019, it can feel downright impossible. At the end of 2018, U.S. unemployment was the lowest it had been since 1969. For months, unfilled jobs outweighed the number of people seeking employment. In a market where job seekers have the pick of the litter, employers face stiff competition when courting prospects. Here are three strategies to draw in top performers and keep them. 1. Pay more. Excellent benefits, fancy perks, and flexible hours are important items on any job seeker’s checklist, but virtually every prospect’s top priority is adequate pay. Workers today have unprecedented bargaining power, and yet, according to ADP, small businesses with fewer than 50 employees boosted wages only a little over 3 percent last year, an amount quickly swallowed up by inflation and increasingly steep living costs. There’s just no way around it. To attract top-tier talent, competitive compensation is paramount, especially in 2019. 2. Give new hires the chance to grow. The best employees constantly hunger for new growth and development opportunities. Show prospective hires the
potential heights they can reach at your organization. First, your business has to have a growth mindset that promotes loyal employees and empowers them to step into exciting new roles. Then you need to present prospective employees with challenging, rewarding projects and responsibilities and show examples of how those who’ve come before them have succeeded. Annual reviews and raises are a start, but you should also explain how a job at your business will improve your prospect’s skills, career, and life. 3. Get them in the door. If you already offer a competitive salary, an expansive benefits package, and a good work environment with opportunities for growth, the only challenge left is to get on your ideal candidate’s radar. One of the best ways to do this is to implement an employee referral program. Ask your team if they know anyone who’d fit the empty role. If you end up hiring their prospect and they stay on the team for, say, six months, then reward the referrer. Cash, PTO, and other benefits will encourage your loyal employees to bring in their skilled friends.
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