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David Brown

Ask These Four Questions to Start 2017 Off on the Right Foot




Start 2017 applying these 4 questions across 7 areas of business, and you’ll be toasting success next December.

What business resolutions will you set for 2017? Now is the perfect time to determine how your 2017 financial year will perform. Get the pen and paper out — it’s time to start planning.

The best way to start is by reflecting on last year. What was good and what needs to change? Success consultant Brian Tracy likes to describe the four questions you need to ask:

  1. What do I need to start doing?
  2. What do I need to stop doing?
  3. What do I need to do more of?
  4. What do I need to do less of?

We like to cross-pollinate these questions with the key areas of your business, namely:

  1. Staff
  2. Inventory (product mix, average retail, margin)
  3. Cash flow
  4. Sales
  5. Vendors
  6. Customers
  7. Systems

By applying each of these four questions to each area, you will find yourself preparing a 28-point plan (4 questions x 7 areas), each with several tasks relating to the new year. Let’s work through an example.


  1. Q: What do I need to start doing?
    A: Reordering fast sellers
  2. Q: What do I need to stop doing?
    A: Seeing vendor representatives without an appointment
  3. Q: What do I need to do more of?
    A: Printing out the vendor report before a representative arrives and highlighting the old items we need to discuss
  4. Q: What do I need to do less of?
    A: Purchasing items without using my open-to-buy fund

By working through each of these questions, a detailed plan of the new strategies that need to be put in place emerges for each area of your business. The staff questions might focus around holding regular staff meetings, implementing staff reviews, letting the staff figure out their own roster clashes and printing out their sales reports each week.


Once you have the actions to be implemented across each area, set up a calendar where the new activity can be recorded and reminders set. For example, staff meeting can be put in daily, reordering fast sellers might be every second day, sending a customer offer out might be monthly, and so on. This will be your prompt to make sure the activity is done. Wherever possible, delegate the implementing to someone else — it will have a greater chance of being done than if you are accountable to yourself.

There is never a better time to take action and implement change in your business. Don’t let the New Year’s resolution be something that ends after only a few days. Change your business and you can change your whole life.

DAVID BROWN is president of the Edge Retail Academy. For information about the Academy’s management mentoring, contact or (877) 569-8657.

This article originally appeared in the December 2016 edition of INSTORE. 



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