7 Moves to Make to Energize Your Business Before Year End
It’s that time again.
Pre-holidays, the perfect time to give yourself the gift of a strategy day to focus on YOUR consulting business.
Here are seven moves you can make right now to position yourself for the work, the clients and the revenue you know you deserve.
1. Revisit Your Business Strategy.
What’s your big picture plan for your consulting business? (Hint: if it isn’t written down, now is an excellent time to start.)
What if anything needs tweaking or a downright overhaul: your target clients, services, delivery model, pricing, marketing, sales?
Try this simple exercise: what do you need to KEEP doing (because it’s working brilliantly, not because you’ve always done it); what should you STOP doing; and what must you START doing to reach the success you crave?
2. Take a deep look at your revenue and your clients.
Start with knowing your numbers—by client, by service and by product.
How does your revenue—in total and by segment—compare to last year and the year before? Is it sustainable—or would you be in serious trouble if a key client bailed or a competitive move derailed your pricing?
And let’s not forget a qualitative review too: take a look at every client on your list—does the thought of taking them into next year with you make you smile or grimace?
What would it take for you to jettison the bad fits to make room for more of your sweet-spots?
3. Analyze your service and product mix.
How much of your revenue depends on services you provide yourself vs. leveraged services and products?
Be honest—are you operating as a freelancer or a business owner? Which better meets your vision?
How can you “harden” your services and products to avoid big revenue swings while building the steady consistent growth that permits confident investing in your future?
What changes in your service and product mix do you need to do more of what you love while building repeatable revenue?
4. Set a stretch goal.
What’s the one thing you’d be thrilled to accomplish next year—and that you are willing to dedicate yourself to no matter what?
Don’t pick three or even two. Just one s-t-r-e-t-c-h that you’ll stay ridiculously focused on until you get there.
Is this your year to write that book, get on the speaking circuit (for real) or commit yourself to developing a seriously steady pipeline of new client opportunities?
What one thing will move the needle in your business?
5. Juice up your marketing and sales.
Once you’ve decided where you’re taking your business, your marketing needs a little effervescence to shake it up a bit.
If you’re already clear on your consulting brand and overall messages, then focus on tweaks based on what you learned this year (if you’re a soloist still struggling with your overall brand, stay tuned for my next ConsultantBrand workshop.
Maybe your sweet-spot client for one service is slightly different for a new one.
Or you’ve had an emerging service area that needs some marketing, PR and/or sales investment to fully realize its potential.
Perhaps you’ve isolated an appealing source for new clients and buyers—a social media channel or a digital marketing funnel to put your prospect-building on auto-pilot.
Make your 2018 plan now so you can hit the deck full speed in January.
6. Plan your year out on a calendar.
It’s tempting to simply let the year play out, maybe bucketing key activities into four quarters, but RESIST.
Mark up a calendar with key actions and dates, planning your marketing, sales and content around seasons, pivotal dates and events.
Sure, leave room for serendipity. But plotting out your main moves not only holds you accountable, it prevents you from letting someone else’s priorities highjack your plan.
7. Create yourself a feedback loop.
Your business always needs an annual strategy check-up, but that doesn’t mean everything should wait until year-end.
Build some feedback loops into your day-to-day work, marketing and sales.
Keep a tally of your client wins and losses, noting what made them say yay or nay.
Ask for feedback on your services and products at logical pause-points.
In your digital marketing, use the tools at your disposal to evaluate your email deliverability, open rates, click-through rates, website visits, bounce rates, etc.
Listen to your feedback as you go and make tweaks—or even overhauls—as they make sense.
Running your consulting business on autopilot is seductive, especially when your client work is humming along nicely.
But investing in the long-term health of your consulting business marks the difference between professionals and amateurs.
An Emerging Theme In Thematic Investing
Exchange traded funds (ETFs) are popular vehicles for market participants looking to engage in thematic investing. Thematic investing looks to take advantage of future growth trends, including disruptive technologies. Given that forward-looking approach, stock-picking in the thematic universe is equally as hard, if not harder, than in traditional market segments.
Go back to the late 1990s, before the bursting of the Internet/technology bubble. Back then, investors stood an equal chance of selecting E-Toys over Amazon or some no longer in existence networking equipment maker over Cisco.
“History is littered with examples of prospering industries with no indication of which company will come to dominate the industry,” according to Nasdaq. “This suggests that successful thematic investing is more about selecting baskets of investments rather than single securities.”1
The ALPS Disruptive Technologies ETF (DTEC) provides basket exposure to a broad swath of thematic investments. DTEC features exposure to not just one or two emerging technologies, but 10 such themes on an equal-weight basis.
The 10 themes represented in DTEC are as follows: 3D printing, clean energy, cloud computing, cybersecurity, data and analytics, fintech, healthcare innovation, Internet of Things (IoT), mobile payments and robotics and artificial intelligence (AI).
Generally speaking, fund issuers have been quick to respond to disruptive and transformative technologies, bringing products to market to tap these themes. Prior to DTEC coming to market late last year, there were ETFs devoted exclusively to cloud computing, cybersecurity, robotics and other themes featured in DTEC. However, few use the basket approach to themes employed by DTEC.
February, a rough month for U.S. stocks, highlighted the advantages of DTEC's multi-theme methodology. Seven of the 10 themes found in the fund finished the month lower, but DTEC was able to outperform the S&P 500 on a monthly basis.
Focusing on individual themes can be rewarding over the long-term, but not all investors have the risk tolerance for such a strategy. Consider this: the Indxx Global Robotics & Artificial Intelligence Thematic Index jumped more than 48% in 2017. That type of performance is enough to seduce many investors, but that same benchmark slipped 7.60% in February, generating monthly volatility of 34.10%.2 Said another way, that robotics and AI index's February slide was more than triple the loss experienced by DTEC during the month.
While it probably is not accurate to call the indexes devoted to individual disruptive themes “old,” many use old school weighting methodologies. For example, the two largest components in the ISE Cloud Computing Index are Netflix, Inc. (NFLX) and Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN). Only two members of the S&P 500 have larger market values than Amazon while Netflix currently has a larger market cap than Wal-Mart (WMT) and McDonald's (MCD).
Holdings subject ot change as of 12/31/17
For its part, DTEC not only equally weights its 10 disruptive themes, but its 100 components as well, potentially reducing single stock risk in the process. As the chart below confirms, equally weighting stocks is rewarding across sectors and market capitalization segments.
Past performance does not guarantee future results
Annualized returns for the past 10 years show seven of the 11 S&P 500 sectors, when equally weighted, outperform cap-weighted equivalents, according to S&P. Three of those seven sectors – financial services, healthcare and technology – are prominent parts of DTEC's roster.
1 Source: Nasdaq Dec. 28, 2015 https://www.nasdaq.com/article/what-thematic-investing-is-and-its-strengths-and-risks-cm559209
2 Source: ETF Replay data
An investor should consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses carefully before investing. To obtain a prospectus which contain this and other information call 866.675.2639 or visit www.alpsfunds.com. Read the prospectus carefully before investing.
An investment in the ALPS Disruptive Technologies ETF (DTEC) may be subject to substantially greater risk and volatility than investments in larger and more mature technology companies.
There is no assurance that the market developments and sector growth based upon the themes discussed in the article will come to pass.
ALPS Disruptive Technologies ETF shares are not individually redeemable. Investors buy and sell shares of the ALPS Disruptive Technologies ETF on a secondary market. Only market makers or “authorized participants” may trade directly with the Fund, typically in blocks of 50,000 shares.
ALPS Advisors, Inc. (AAI) has engaged IRIS Werks, LLC (IRIS) to produce analysis and commentary on ALPS-advised ETFs. IRIS currently has a compensated business relationship with AAI. AAI is not affiliated with IRIS.
The content and opinions expressed in this article are that of the author and not the views and opinions of AAI. In addition, AAI assumes no responsibility to ensure the accuracy of the content written by the author.
There are risks involved with investing in ETFs including the loss of money. Additional information regarding the risks of this investment is available in the prospectus. Past Performance is not indicative of future results.
The fund is new and has limited operating history.
ALPS Portfolio Solutions Distributor, Inc. is the distributor for the ALPS Disruptive Technologies ETF. AAI is affiliated with ALPS Portfolio Solutions Distributor, Inc.
The author is not an investment professional and this article should not be considered investment advice. While the information and statistical data contained herein are based on sources believed to be reliable, the author takes no responsibility to ensure the accuracy of the content. Additionally, this article should not be relied on or be the basis for an investment decision. Information that is historical is not indicative of future results, and subject to change.
S&P 500®: A capitalization-weighted index of 500 stocks designed to measure performance of the broad domestic economy through changes in the aggregate market value of 500 stocks representing all major industries.
S&P SmallCap 600®: A capitalization-weighted index that measures the small-cap segment of the U.S. equity market.
S&P MidCap 400®: A capitalization-weighted index that measures the mid-cap segment of the U.S. equity market.
Indxx Global Robotics & Artifical Intelligence Thematic Index: The Indxx Global Robotics & Artificial Intelligence Thematic Index is designed to track the performance of companies listed in developed markets that are expected to benefit from the increased adoption and utilization of robotics and Artificial Intelligence ("AI"), including companies involved in Industrial Robotics and Automation, Non-Industrial Robots, Artificial Intelligence and Unmanned Vehicles.
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