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How was 2011 for you? A successful year? A competitive year? A tough year? Whether good or not so good, if you’re like most partners we work with you’ve no doubt started 2012 with every intention of building on what you’ve already achieved and make the year one of the best you’ve ever had.

Food for thought

Food for thought

Of course it’s easy to say you’re going to make more sales this year than last, attain better margins and be more profitable. How clear are you though about what’s going to make that happen? What types of business are going to make up your increased turnover? Which products are going to earn you the best margins? Who are you going to sell to? What’s your strategy? Hopefully you’re now reading this with contempt because you’re already very clear on your strategy and don’t need us suggesting what you should consider for the year ahead.

A good starting point is to review your sources of income for 2011. What were the ‘feeds’ to your income? You might base your revenue analysis on customer groups to whom you sell a range of connectivity services; or on product type. Whichever, getting a clear picture of what made up your revenue in 2011 will help you see whether you have a healthy or potentially unhealthy bias to your business.

Having identified the products you sell and what contribution they make to your revenue, be critical about how well you performed in 2011. Is your business significantly based on broadband sales or do you also actively provide leased line, Ethernet-in-the-first-mile and IP VPN solutions? Are you principally only on data connectivity products or do you also capitalise on voice services such as VoIP and SIP trunking? Consider the state of the market for each product. Broadly, do you think the market is in its early adopter, fast growth, maturing or decline stage for each? What are the drivers in your customers’ markets that are a catalyst to these services being demanded? How well did you perform in selling each product – very good, average or poor? Then consider who you see as your immediate competitors and where you think they are stronger or weaker than you.

By taking this simple approach you’ll soon be armed with a picture of which products in which markets you can put more effort in 2012, as well as where you need to make improvements to be more attractive than your immediate competitors. From there, set realistic goals based on the number and value of sales you’ll need to achieve your run-of-business and incremental growth, and break your year down into manageable segments so that you can keep a regular check on how well you’re performing. Don’t only focus on the short term though. To be meaningful, your 2012 strategy needs to fit into your objectives for the longer term? Some find it easier than others in determining what they want their business to look like in three years, five years and even longer. Will you add more resources to your business and expand into new products and markets as a way of building revenue and recognition as a market leader for the long term? Will you specialise in niche but high margin services? Will you acquire other businesses to create a company that you can sell on?

While a short article like this makes it sound easy, the reality is that setting your strategy out for the year, translating it into action points and measuring your performance critically will benefit you enormously. We’ve not discussed the values you want your business to be recognised for, how you’re going to target new business, which products can give you the greatest return or how you’re going to promote to your chosen markets. That’s for another time, unless you’ve already got it sorted…

Remember, we’re here to help you build your business in 2012. Get in touch on 0333 101 0808, email us at marketing@enta.net or use the contact form below and we’ll see how we can help.

Read our previous article ‘Well Done You!’ or visit our Food for thought page, to read other articles.

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