Let’s talk: New Year


new year, new calendar year 2020 and business/work plans

Featured | Let's Talk

By Loren Webb

It’s the third working week of the New Year (at least for most of us) and now that everyone is settled back into the flow of work, it’s a good time for us to assess our goals and plans for 2020.

A New Year brings new exciting vision, and the break over Christmas often provides some much needed rest, recovery and all important clarity. As we’re now well into January, we thought it was a good time to ask our business leaders about getting the calendar year of to a good start. 

They share their strategies for 2020 and what they are currently prioritising in order to achieve their business and personal work goals. Hopefully the gathering of below insights will give you some inspiration for your own business, or spark a new way of thinking or idea.

Keep up to date with our stories LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.


Rosie Cairnes, Regional VP, APAC at Skillsoft

As things slow down over the summer, it is the perfect time to focus on things we can’t always get to during our normal daily routine. The slower pace of summer, combined with the optimisation and positivity a new year brings, lends itself perfectly to a little reflection and personal development.The time that we are able to spend learning new things and sharpening  business skills  makes us better at our job, but it also gets us excited and re-energised to tackle work challenges as things inevitably speed up again.

Here are a few ways you can use the summer to develop your own skills:

  1. Read a book or join a (virtual) book club
  2. Embrace e-learning
  3. Find a mentor
  4. Consider certifications

Using the summer to rediscover our commitment to developing our own skills doesn’t have to end when things get busy. If we can create good learning habits this summer, it will stand us in good stead to be able to carry them through the rest of the year.

Patrick Coghlan, CEO, CreditorWatch

Take the traditionally quieter January period to pinpoint the areas of your business that could do with an overhaul. Embracing positive changes for the new calendar year doesn’t have to be an expensive exercise either; sometimes it’s just a matter of thinking outside the box. If your desk is overflowing with paperwork, assess the tasks that you can shift online. There are a suite of online tools at your disposal to improve communication between stakeholders and speed up manual processes like credit application.

Want to set you and your team up for success in the year to come? Take upskilling seriously. Search for training days and online courses that will help your staff build new skills and broaden their views on topics in your industry. This will also undoubtedly give team morale a boost, and taking care of your people is vital to drive your business forward.

Sunil Vohra, co-founder of The Workability Index

As a startup entering the new decade, it’s a time of opportunity to positively influence the systems and structures we use in our communities.

Last year saw many examples of the downside of organisations getting culture oversight wrong. It’s a painful lesson for all to heed and billions of dollars in remediation doesn’t fix the structural issue. Treating culture as an internal issue with ad hoc assessment methods is no longer working. And the clamour for transparency from customers, shareholders, regulators and staff cannot be met by continuing with what we’ve done before. The new year brings the opportunity for a new approach.

At TWI we are excited to progress our growth plans and support more organisations to transition to a new way of assessing their culture against an index. We think 2020 will see a systemic shift in thinking about culture and we are excited to be part of it.

Dave Scheine, Vend Managing Director for APAC

The new year is a great time to upgrade your business tech stack, especially in retail. The hectic holiday season likely put your point-of-sale retail management system to the test, so if you encountered issues, now is the time to address them. Evaluate your tools and software and see if any of them could use an upgrade. This could mean updating to the latest version, or in some instances, getting new hardware or software.

Whatever the case, recognise that upgrading your programs isn’t about having the coolest and newest tools around. It’s about streamlining your operations and improving customer experience. Speaking of updates, when was the last time you changed up your website, business profiles, and marketing collateral? If it’s been a while, take this opportunity to do so. Did you receive any awards or were featured in the media in 2019? Or perhaps your business introduced something major last year, such as a new store or product range. If so, be sure to add those accomplishments and updates to your website, social accounts.

Mike Featherstone, Managing Director, ANZ/APAC, Pluralsight 

“The beginning of any year is a great opportunity to kick start new programs or processes. For business leaders, the best way to start 2020 is to initiate a companywide refresh to skills development. While the tech trend curve will never cease to evolve, it’s paramount that organisations use this time to create and execute their plan of action to keep talent upskilled in all areas of tech—especially those emerging areas such as AI, DevOps, and machine learning. Employees require real, tangible solutions to their needs for upskilling. For organisations to provide this, it’s recommended to implement a technology skills development platform that is tailored, interactive, and offered in real-time.

A culture of learning truly is the greatest gift leaders can give, and all talent should be given this opportunity. Not only will their teams feel empowered, but they’ll appreciate the time and resources companies are investing into their development. For the business itself, there’s no greater way to start the year than with a team of skilled, agile and motivated tech talent.”

Helen Souness, CEO, RMIT Online

Whether you’re wanting to move into a new role, or progress in your current one, the new year is the perfect time to upskill and prepare for the future. With growing skill gaps, it’s important for people to embrace new ways of learning in order to remain competitive in a world that is dominated by digitisation. Not only will upskilling help with your career progression, but it will also help increase your value as a potential candidate, providing you with more job certainty and, ultimately, open up more work opportunities. As individuals, we should be asking whether our current role creates opportunity for us to develop new and relevant skill sets – and asking our employers to support us in upskilling. So this year, make a new year’s resolution you can stick to. Look at diversifying your skill set, plan ahead and prepare for the changes innovation and technology will bring, by exposing yourself to some of the emerging skills and technologies that we know will be in demand in Industry 4.0.

Emma Lo Russo, CEO, Digivizer

The start of a new year, when everyone is refreshed, provides a great opportunity to plan for the year.  At Digivizer we work to a July-June financial year and set our business goals at the start of every financial year, but we revisit them each quarter and the January-Mar quarter is one where we really define strong foundations for growth for the balance of the second-half of our financial year, and the rest of the calendar year.

We use an OKR  methodology (Objectives and Key Results), originally attributed to Intel co-founder Andy Grove, to plan. It’s a method to define and track objectives and measurable outcomes. Its power is in how it aligns our teams behind those objectives, and our performance is tracked transparently against these in real time throughout the quarter. We start each quarter by taking a full day in looking at what we did well last quarter, what we didn’t do so well, and where we should focus next. Whilst the goals are set, the strategy and how we will get there is built from the team, which improves knowledge and ownership. Each employee also then makes personal commitments to our OKRs –  what they specifically will do to ensure we achieve. In the three years we’ve run OKRs, we’ve seen huge improvements in focus, accountability, speed-to-market and sales.  We strongly advocate this approach and it is loved by our entire team.

Greg Waldorf, CEO, Invoice2go

If you’re returning to work after a well-deserved break, refreshed, and ready to make big things happen in 2020, now is an opportune time to set your foundations. A strong and stable financial footing is imperative for successful businesses, so while your regular routine establishes itself after the holidays, why not set aside time to get on top of your finances?

A steady income is the lifeblood of any business, so ensure that you’ve submitted all your invoices and quotes. Create a calendar with confirmed and potential contracts or projects, and use that to determine your budget and expected revenue for the year. Using 2019’s finances as a guide, ask yourself whether you need to do anything differently. For example, if you spent too long waiting for invoices to be paid last year, consider reducing your payment terms in 2020. The peace of mind that comes with being financially prepared for the upcoming year could be just the platform you need to help your business thrive in 2020.

Gemma Manning, Founder and Managing Director, Manning & Co.

It’s essential to kick off a new year with clearly defined marketing goals and a straight-forward action plan. There is significant value in being a marketing-led company, so if you haven’t already, review the previous year’s marketing strategy to determine what worked and what didn’t work to create a more refined approach.

Some critical components of the 2020 plan include: defining the customers’ journey and needs for the year to ensure you know them intimately and can anticipate their behaviour, developing a year-long content plan to establish the right positioning and drive a consistent and relevant message to customers and finally, implementation. Success is all about how you execute and take action. Turn vision into reality with the right resources and teams.

In 2020 learn to balance quality with getting things done, knowing when to draw the line and get a campaign out rather than have it idle, and pushing forward in bringing those great marketing strategies to life.

Mike Rosenbaum, CEO Spacer.com.au & Parkhound.com.au 

We kickstart our calendar year in the 2nd week of Jan when our leadership team are fresh and back from a couple of weeks well earned break. The leaders of each area of the business collectively formulate a high level strategy & goals for the business for 2020, then individually create their own departmental plan. We regroup a week later and present our plans, discuss, provide feedback, and end up with an aligned plan for the year ahead. This methodology provides ownership, buy-in and alignment across our business. The key is to continue to monitor & adapt the plan frequently, but the strategy remains firmly intact. We can already feel the momentum! ‘Plan your work, and work your plan’.

Deborah Southon, Director, FSA Group/ Easy Bill Pay

A new year’s goals for nearly every person and organisation is to get their financials on track. Financial resolutions will provide stability so getting the calendar year off to a great start must begin with reassessing the fiscal reality of your company. The rise of Australia’s ‘tap and go’ culture has transformed the notion of frugality and shifted our perception of what it means to be financially fit. Is it weighed in how much you earn in a day? Or, is it found alongside the loose change in the corners of your couch? Regardless of the cause, enhancing financial health should be the focus of Australian businesses in 2020.

Be realistic with business goals and spend within your industry means. Don’t make impulsive purchases and think about what takes priority in the long run. Start saving and stop taking on new debt.

Waiting for the perfect moment to take control of your finances might feel resolute but there is no time like the present!

Eamon Ridgway, National Strategic Manager, ipSCAPE

The new year is a great time to build your Sales momentum. Building a strong pipeline is critical to ensure a successful year. It is important for Sales leaders to ensure they have the right people and the right technology. Asking questions such “Do I have the right technology and process in place to achieve these targets” or “What can I do differently to exceed targets” will help guide decision-making.

January is often a time when ipSCAPE is evaluated as a technology tool to help drive Sales performance. Clients often inquire about our calling technology features such as our dialler, our reporting functionality and adding our telephony solution to CRMS such as Salesforce, ServiceNow and Zendesk.

Now is the time to work out what actions are needed to achieve your goals for the year and to put them into place.

Jordan Sim, Director of Product Management, APAC at BigCommerce

As we enter a new decade and leave the sale season behind, businesses need to proactively look to what’s next to ensure they have the best chance of flourishing in 2020. Fundamentally, a business is only as successful as its consumers, so businesses (and retailers in particular) need to understand what their consumers want — and what better way than starting fresh in the new year! Increasingly, we’re seeing consumers demand streamlined in-store and online experiences and brands who fail to offer this, risk losing customers to their competitors. Additionally, brands need to cater to their consumers’ needs whether that’s by having options available to streamline the shopping experience like Buy Now, Pay Later services or offering competitive shipping and delivery options.

We’re also seeing a need for consumers who want brands that express their values – whether it’s businesses thinking sustainably to connect with customers to donating to much needed communities, such as those affected by the devastating Australian bushfires. Brands who are able to connect with their consumers on a personal level, will be the ones that succeed.

The key to ensuring a brand’s messages and values are well-received by their audience’s is simple — produce authentic content. Brands that practice what they preach will be able to do this with ease. Authentic content helps brands reach specific, targeted audiences and engage with them on a deeper level. It’s what increases engagement and leads to customer loyalty ensuring businesses have a successful 2020 and beyond.

Angus Dorney, co-CEO, Kablamo 
January is named after the Roman god, Janus, who is depicted with two faces: one looking to the future, and the other looking to the past. So, I start by taking stock of the year we had at Kablamo and what the main market and technological trends were globally. The average lifespan of an S&P 500 company is now 15 years – down from 67 years – which means that every industry is facing the headwinds of disruption. An entire market can be re-defined and undermined almost overnight. Keeping abreast of these changes and moods is pivotal, especially as Kablamo aims to be part of the disruption and align with the rebellion of the status quo. From this past reflection, I then consider Janus’ future-facing visage and spend time analysing potential innovations we can bring to our clients. It allows me to get the year off to a great start.

Related: The 6 changes in employee awards and legislation this new year

Related Articles
Every business owner should be building their own personal brand in addition to their business - because customers and clients connect with people, not products and services. Expert | Featured
Why is your personal brand so important in business?

Every business owner should be building their own personal brand in addition to their business – because customers and clients connect with people, not products and services. Social media and branding expert Carissa Hill said a personal brand was important for business owners because increasingly customers want to know the people behind the company. “People Read More…