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Let’s Talk: Business



Featured | Let's Talk

By Rebecca Thacker

Best tips and tricks to get the New Year off to a roaring start

New Year’s Resolutions aren’t for everyone but there was a common theme among our Let’s Talk business leaders as they tackle the start of 2019 – goal setting and investing in staff retention and training.  For these savvy business owners, the start of the New Year provides an opportunity to reflect on the past year and analyse the key successes and failures before setting some achievable goals.  One top tip to kickstart the year is to hire your ‘A Team’ says Freshworks Australia general manager Sreelesh Pillai. “A study by the Australian Industry Group found that 75 per cent of employers experienced a skills shortage in 2018 … with the talent market being so competitive, businesses that invest in staff retention and attraction will place themselves at a significant advantage,” said Adecco Group CEO Rafael Moyano.

For this week’s Let’s Talk we asked several business leaders for their ‘best tips and tricks to get the New Year off to a roaring start’…


Pandora Shelley, CEO, Fishburners: 

There is no better time to refresh your business outlook than in the New Year. In the world of startups, things are always changing. Technology is improving, the way customers use and buy products is changing so you need to make sure your startup is evolving too. Take the time to reflect on your business journey from the previous year and identify key successes and failures. After a year or more in the industry, you would have gained a better understanding of the market, your customers, and your operational ability, so it is highly unlikely for your business plan to remain unchanged year to year. 

Rafael Moyano, CEO, Australia, The Adecco Group: 

A study by the Australian Industry Group found that 75 per cent of employers experienced a skills shortage in 2018 and this shows no sign of slowing. With the talent market being so competitive, businesses that invest in staff retention and attraction will place themselves at a significant advantage. A focus on training will help to engage and upskill existing staff, while a strong employer brand will make it much easier to attract new recruits.

Start internally by setting goals through personal development plans and regular performance check-ins, and provide training through lunch and learns, formal courses and mentor programmes. Tailored programmes that address specific skills in areas such as writing, finance or business planning can lead to more confident and effective staff. Rather than limiting KPIs and reviews to once or twice a year, engagement strategies that focus on continual growth and development are most effective.

Benefits outside of a salary package are also important. Flexible working hours, paid family leave and remote working can be vital in holding onto staff with busy lives. Communicating these benefits to potential candidates will also make acquisition easier.

Sreelesh Pillai, General Manager, Freshworks Australia:

At Freshworks, we’re ringing in the New Year by ramping up on hiring, doubling down on lead generation, and ensuring we listen to our customers, in order to set ourselves up for our best year yet. Here are our top three tips to kickstart your year:

  1. Do your homework. Identify your key stakeholders for 2019, from vendors, prospective customers, industry partners and beyond. You can’t afford to be complacent, invest time and resources into these relationships in the first quarter to give your business a head start.
  2. Recruit your A team. Hire as early in the year as possible. Ask your newest employees for feedback on what could be improved from their experience, and use this to streamline your future processes.
  3. Synchronise your vision. Motivate your team by refreshing their belief in your company goals, demonstrating how the contribution of every single team member is important. To incentivise the team, announce rewards early and award bonuses for early milestone achievements.

Troy Douglas, Global CEO & Co-Founder, Nexba: 

2018 was a whirlwind of a year for just about everyone I know and I believe in radical reflection as being key to successfully kick starting a new year. If you are an entrepreneur or business leader you will appreciate how self-awareness can play a huge part in the success of your business. At the beginning of every year, I always reflect on how we can adapt all successes and mistakes of the previous year to positively create learnings that can become solutions to accelerate business growth. I find that I’m always learning something new about myself, my team and the industry year on year and it’s crucial to reflect on these new learnings to lay stronger foundations before going full steam ahead into the New Year’s challenges.

David Jackson, Committee Member, Sydney Angels:

The start of the year is a great time to sit back and analyse your last year’s performance. Go deep into the metrics and data, and work out whether there are any areas of weakness that may need to be addressed in the New Year.

It’s also the perfect time to set some achievable goals, as well as one annual BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal!). Write these goals on paper and have them up in front of you – on the shower window, on your fridge, on your PC – wherever you’ll read and absorb them on a daily basis. Another idea is to write your goals on a piece of paper and put them in envelopes to open each quarter and compare to where you’re at with your business partner, CEO, or family (or all three!).

Achieving these goals also requires putting a plan in place. Break this down to a micro level: weekly, monthly, and quarterly tasks that will get you to where you want to go.

And – possibly most important of all – set some time out to have some fun this year! Get some holidays booked or plan some other form of adventure, and use this to drive your motivation.”

Juan Galang, Senior Employment Relations Adviser specialising in small business, Employsure:

The start of a New Year can be an exciting time for businesses, and a time to refocus on efforts to grow your business in the year ahead.

  1. Keep your finances up to date. Work on your business accounting weekly, so you can keep a finger on the pulse of your finances at all times. Knowing your numbers in real-time can help you see if your business is in good shape or provide early warning signs of issues. Waiting until the end of the year, quarter or even the month is too long to find out that your business needs to make changes.
  2. Keep your documents and record keeping clean and current. Ensure you have an effective system is in place for recording, communicating, using and securely storing business documents and employee records. Setting up the right record keeping system for your business will help you work efficiently, meet legal requirements and strengthen customer and staff relationships.
  3. Understand your staffing needs and put together a plan. One of the biggest business decisions you’ll have to make is whether or not to hire employees in the coming year. Consider your new goals, expectations for customer demand, minimum wage increases coming in July, and current staff level to project your 2019 staffing needs.

Edwin Onggo, Founder & CEO, GiggedIn:

Firstly, New Year’s resolutions are overrated. Goals and habits are what you need to be focused on.

Goals set your direction. Have big long-term goals (i.e. what is your vision?). From that, have actionable goals that you need to execute on and break them down yearly, quarterly, weekly, daily. Make sure they are actionable and measurable.

Now that you’ve aimed where you want to go – build the right habits that will provide a guiding compass for your behaviour that will get you there in spite of whatever unexpected things that come up might be. Although this is an oversimplification – for me with GiggedIn, our vision is to do what Spotify has done for CD’s but for all ticketed live entertainment. I have goals and milestones that broken down will get us there, but it’s the habit of waking up early and focusing on deep work (i.e. focusing on only one thing at a time) that will enable me to be the most effective leader/creator each day that will allow us to get there.

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