2021 is approaching…very fast! How do you ensure that you finish 2020 strong?

Most business owners have spent this year in fire-fighting mode. Others have had to rush and catch up as their businesses or industries accelerated at the speed of light.

High-stress levels and having to think on your feet is the new normal.

I don’t know where you are today or what your business has gone through as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. What I do know is that it’s time for a reset.

This last quarter of the year has massive opportunities for everyone – whether you’ve had to restart afresh or have experienced the positive bonuses that came with the pandemic.

Here’s a brief of what the business arena looks like today:

  1. Consumers are spending more – just not in the expected places or the regular manner. This is a great opportunity if you sell directly to consumers (or B2C – Business to Consumer).
  2. Businesses and organizations are seeking to plan, stay afloat, or get ahead of the competition. This presents a great opportunity if you sell to other businesses (or B2B – Business to Business).
  3. Everyone is looking to make plans, move forward, and get comfortable with the new way of doing things (the new ‘normal’). 

Are you ready or will opportunities pass you by?

Unfortunately, many business owners will miss out on these opportunities!

There are several reasons why this will happen, including the following:

  1. Your mindset is still in the tunnels, and you’re still focused on the challenges caused by the pandemic.
  2. The will to fight has been drained out of you. You don’t have any more energy and you need to recover first.
  3. You put your life and business on hold and haven’t managed to ‘unpause’. 
  4. There have been too many shifts and new normals. Life is topsy turvy and you’re struggling to catch up with the changes.
  5. Time got away from you. Days, weeks, and months went by…and you can’t believe that it’s the last quarter of the year!
  6. You’ve lost sight of your goals, or don’t believe they are worth pursuing anymore.

Whatever your reason may be, it’s easy to fall into the pit of despair and become one of the failures. Not because there’s no way out, but because you’re letting opportunities pass by or focusing on the wrong things.

Is there hope?

While the situation may seem dire, there is hope. You don’t need a detailed strategic plan to move forward. What you need is something that will kickstart you into action and maintain the action over the next 3 months.

Right now, it’s hard to think long-term. For one, we still aren’t sure how the pandemic will pan out. It seems to have a mind of its own and doesn’t behave as expected.

Secondly, the worldwide economic recession has affected almost all sectors. Even those that are thriving have not been left unscathed.

Third, and most importantly, for us in Kenya, we’ve gone into the election cycle which lasts about 3 years. This is a season that brings about an economic crisis, more so if there’s a negative reaction at the end of the elections. So there’s even more uncertainty about the future.

In this article, I share a simple process you can use to end this year strong. It’s something you can do on your own. However, if you need additional help, I’m also happy to walk you through it.

Note: This is a pretty long post, so grab a cup of tea/coffee and your favourite notebook.

How to finish 2020 strong!

This process has 3 steps:

  1. Review.
  2. Plan strategically (I call it the quick and dirty plan).
  3. Take correct and consistent actions.

Step 1: Review

Not all is doom and gloom. There’s a lot you’ve done over the years that have worked. There are also wins this year, no matter the situation you’re in right now.

  1. What has worked well this year? (come up with 3-6 answers)
  2. What did you learn from these wins?
  3. What can you do going forward to build on the wins?
  4. Did you get any unexpected sources of inspiration and/or motivation? Which are the top 3 and how can you reproduce them in Q4?

As entrepreneurs, we’re wired to focus more on the future. So much so that we forget to look at what’s already working and build on it.

You don’t need to do much to make this last quarter of the year count. Look at what’s already working and expand it. 

Now that you know what’s working, ask yourself:

What didn’t work at all or what didn’t work as expected?

Here are some reflection questions:

  1. Why haven’t you achieved what you planned for 2020? (Hint: COVID-19 is not the only reason…)
  2. What can you learn from these challenges?
  3. What can you improve or do better?

For example, while my business excelled during the lockdowns, I also learned that I couldn’t survive any longer without my own employees. I’ve worked effectively with part-time virtual assistants, but it’s now time to take the next step.

The pandemic also uncovered the fact that I was focusing on the wrong target market and charging quite low for the results I help people get. It was an eye-opener that has led to shedding off several programs and changing our marketing process.

As I write this, I’m just about to complete a 6-week Productivity Coaching program that has helped me organize my life and business effectively. I’ve also signed up for a Business Coaching program that helps businesses like mine move to the next level.

Even if 2020 went down the drain for your business, there is still something you learned. Document these lessons and use the information to grow.

Finally, you need to seek help. So ask yourself:

Who can help me overcome these challenges, identify opportunities, and map the way forward?

This is the worst time to try and be a lone ranger. Yes, things may have gone really bad, but they will get worse if you try to go it alone.

Do whatever you can to get help:

  • Attend a LIVE class (and implement what you learn immediately). Better yet, find a class that has assignments and a form of accountability where everyone has to share their assignment. 
  • Get a mentor – someone who has achieved success in a similar business or industry but is not your competitor. Even someone just 6 months ahead of you is good enough.
  • Join a Mastermind group or create one with people who are ahead of you in business.
  • Work with a Coach.

BTW don’t try shortcuts and think that you can get by through books, e-courses, and other passive methods of learning. Not many people can. It’s much faster and easier to work with someone else.

If you have money to hire a coach or join a paid mastermind then do so.

If funds are a challenge, get a mentor or pay for a one-off strategy session with an expert (coach or consultant).

I’ve deliberately left out having an accountability partner. This is because chances are high that you’ll pick someone who is more or less at the same level as you. So you’ll probably be having the same kinds of challenges too. The blind cannot lead the blind!

Other than the 2 coaching programs I’ve signed up for over the last 2 months, my biggest source of support and learning is my mastermind group. These are all women who are ahead of me in business. While their businesses are all offline, they’ve helped me overcome a lot of mindset blocks. They’ve also provided support and referrals during this season.

Step 2: Plan strategically 

There’s a lot to do in a very short time so we’ll work with what I call a quick and dirty plan.

While I’m a big proponent of working on 3 big projects per quarter, at this time, it’s best to focus on only ONE THING

Use whatever brainstorming process that works for you to identify whatever has produced the biggest results in your business with the least effort. 

So instead of trying new things, you go for something that you can amplify very fast without having to work yourself to the bone.

Some examples of brainstorming processes include:

  • Mind mapping (on paper or using an app).
  • Dumping your ideas on a whiteboard.
  • Using post-it notes (one idea per post-it).
  • Plotting on a matrix with Impact on the Y-axis and Effort on the X-axis.
  • Free-form writing in a notebook, journal, Word, or Google document.

The goal is to dump everything from your mind and then sift through it until you have the one idea that you can move forward with.

Step 3: Take correct and consistent actions

Now that you have a list of ideas and have narrowed it down to one, it’s time to take action.

Having the idea is not enough because you may end up with something that will take you longer than 3 months to achieve. If this is the case for you, then narrow the idea down further into a measurable goal you can work on till the end of the year.

Imagine you’re in a race and are sprinting to the end. At this point, your focus is only on getting to the finish line. You don’t bother with what’s happening around you. Instead, you have a laser-sharp focus on your goal.

The next thing is to work on this goal weekly. Each week:

  • Evaluate what you’ve done so far to achieve your goal.
  • Identify how far or near you are to completing it.
  • Come up with 3 actions you’ll take over the next week to move towards the goal.
  • Make these 3 actions a priority over the next week. If possible, work on them early in the week or early in the morning when the mind and willpower are strong.
  • Also identify what you need to Delegate, Defer, or Dump (anything that you don’t have to do yourself or don’t have to do now). Remember: laser focus. 
  • Rinse and repeat this process each week. Remember to keep your focus on the goal as you set your weekly actions.

Would you like some help with this?

While there are still some factors that are out of your control, you can still make strides in the last quarter of 2020 and finish the year strong. 

The process outlined in this post is very simple to implement. However, if you need help creating and/or implementing the plan, I can help. Book a complimentary Discovery Session to get started.

In the meantime, go back to the beginning of this post and complete the steps as you create a plan that will help you finish the year strong!

(Image credit: Unsplash)

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