For me, 2017 has been an 8 out of 10 year. So a pretty good year but I look back and can see how it could have gone better.
Overall, I really enjoyed getting clarity on what I want my 3 businesses (Business Changing, AccountabilityMe and Nurture Change to be – and was hit in the face with the realization that I am too busy. Yes, too busy.
I crave for a better work life balance. Ironic considering I usually succeed in helping my clients with this issue and yet it’s my biggest challenge. I am a workaholic and so, so enjoy working but I know I need to work less in 2018 and be even more present in my non-work life.
This is something I will consider in my three weeks off work: how to be even more effective, impacting more on my clients but having a better work life balance. Watch this space.
I am always proud of my clients. For seven years we have managed to keep up our statistic that the average long-term client doubles their profit every year. How good is that?! It is awesome seeing clients who used to make $50k profit now making more than $1 million+ profit.
Our clients continue to win lots of awards each year (since June, Business Changing clients have won over 30 awards, which you can read about on the blog) but I am really enjoying seeing the move of many companies to consciously choose to do social good. Yes, still maximising profit and company value but really caring about doing more good for their community: caring about the environment, caring about giving back and helping the less fortunate. Impacting beyond “just the dollars” is something staff and customers love and will get behind.
I’m proud to say that Business Changing, Nurture Change and Accountability Me have had our best year yet in terms of contributing to the community and I’ve loved seeing how many people we have been able to impact in 2017.
One of the biggest business lessons I have seen in 2017 is the power of two is more powerful than just doing it alone. If you can find someone who is equally as passionate and committed as you are to make your business all that it could be, you are going to be more successful, faster.
It’s not rocket science but I came across numerous businesses that struggled in 2017 because they partnered up with a less than ideal partner. Partners who weren’t doing the right things in the right order and partners who were not working as hard as they could so too much work and responsibility fell onto one owner over the other.
Having a partner is good – sharing the vision and load will make you way more successful – but the wrong one will lead to a heap more work and stress so choose wisely.
Perhaps my biggest breakthrough of the year business-wise was launching my business planning and strategy workshops. For a few years I had been running really good one or two-day strategy sessions for clients. I really loved them and the impact they had on these businesses and I had awesome feedback.
In 2016, on the plane flight back from Nurture Change, my wife Sip challenged me: “Zac, why do you only run these for one company at a time? Why can’t you run them for multiple companies at once?” Of course my natural defense went up and I replied, “Nice idea, but that is impossible. I couldn’t facilitate 10–15 companies at once to help them create a business plan, as well as adding my own two cents worth”.
As all good partners do, Sip would not let up – “Why can’t you?”. Eventually, after about 15 “it’s just not possible” answers, I took up the challenge laid and really thought about how I could run a business planning workshop for more than one company at a time. I launched the first workshop in January 2017 with 15 companies and 45 people attending.
Fast forward to today and I have run five workshops with more than 80 companies and around 200 people. We have averaged a satisfaction score of 9.65 out of 10 overall across these workshops and are taking them nationwide in 2018 – to Wellington, Christchurch, Hamilton and Whangarei, as well as my usual ones in Auckland.
Moral of the story: everybody needs somebody in their business and everyday life who will push them with some great questions on “Why can it not be done?” or “How can you do it better?”. Thank you, Sip!
Of course, a highlight for me was our third Nurture Change. I have known for a long time that business owners and senior managers do not take enough time out of their business to think on their business – this is why Nurture Change exists. Five days in Fiji with amazing speakers and inspiring business owners. This was our best year yet. I urge all business owners and senior managers to take time out and look for inspiration on how to improve your business – you will always get huge ROI. As 2016 Nurture Change speaker Murray Thom said, “No good idea comes from being in the office.”
And if you think you cannot leave your business for a few days, then your business is set up wrong. What can you do to make your business less reliant on you?
Next year, we are doing Nurture Change in Hawaii (September 14–19, 2018) and pre-bookings are already strong. I learnt something at this year’s event – all the attendees share the same trait: they are all open-minded to the fact that they can be doing things better and willing to take time out of their busy schedules to listen to figure out how to do that.
There are so many reasons why some companies are more successful than others. Thinking of my most successful clients in 2017 collectively, I would put their success down to a handful of simple things…
- They had great leadership. Leaders who know where the company can get to if everything went to plan – and who made sure the business moved closer to this every week. They had those challenging conversations and didn’t turn a blind eye to things they knew were not good enough. They got their team excited about where they were going.
- They were very clear on their business strategies. If I was to write a job description for the owner of a company, a big part of it is making sure the strategies of the company (identified via a business planning process) are carried out. So many people have good ideas on what to do but they never do them, instead getting sidetracked and deviating from the plan. The best leaders and best businesses inherently do the right things in the right order and are acutely aware of the most important handful of strategies that the company needs to deliver on to maximise the success of the business.
- They have raving fans. Do you?
- They are like a dog with a bone when it comes to sales. Most companies do not follow a potential sale through to the end. They just let a potential new customer slip through their fingers. How many sales leads and opportunities do you waste? I remember one client of mine (Les Mills) that took me 2.5 years to convert – I knew (or had convinced myself) that one day they would need me and yes, after never giving up they became a client!
- They see the importance of culture. I was lucky enough to get to know Bernard Powell this year. Bernard owns and runs Premier Pavers which won Best Workplace in NZ in 2016 and I really enjoyed his thoughts on creating dynamic workplace that focuses on your employees. I have always been an advocate of the power of a great culture and remember the impact it had when I was the MD of Barkers in the late 2000s and we won the best workplace in NZ. To have a great culture does not just happen, you have to design it and focus on it. If you want to succeed in 2018, you need a great culture – it is nigh impossible for you to achieve all you could be otherwise. You need everyone on that bus facing the same way – and being excited about it.
Of course you need a lot more than just those 5 things to be successful but if you can master each of them, you will give yourself a great opportunity to have a brilliant year.
We wish you a great holiday time and here is to 2018 being the best year of your life ever – in business and personally.