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My Must-Do List for 2015

With 2015 upon us, it’s time to look at the must-do’s for your business, in order to get the year off to a great start and make sure 2015 is even more successful than 2014.

With business a little slow over the holidays, I was able to knock out a few good projects on my “honey-do” list. You know: Honey, can you fix the leaky faucet? Honey, can you paint the kids room? I definitely feel productive and my wife is very happy.

With 2015 upon us, it’s time to look at the must-do’s for your business, in order to get the year off to a great start and make sure 2015 is even more successful than 2014. (Or if you are in a turnaround year, to make sure your turnaround is successful.) Here is my top 5 list for what I want to accomplish in the short term, as we kick off the year:

1.Business Planning: This frankly should have been done during the Q4 2014. But if you haven’t started your 2015 business plan yet, it’s never too late. How did you do in 2014 versus your goal? If you didn’t make it to your goal, why not? Were you able to execute on strategies you planned? Did tactics produce the way you wanted to? If you exceed goal, congratulations, but ask yourself what you did specifically to make that happen and why were you successful? Did you target a new market and develop and execute on sales strategies tailored to that market? Or did you just get lucky and ride a wave of new home construction in your geography? If the latter, that is just the market talking, not your strategy. Now take what you learned from 2014 and develop strategies and tactics for 2015. Do you want to pursue the architect and designer market more in 2015? How will you go about that? Will you be a CEDIA trainer and run classes for the market? Will you work on a show house project so you can showcase your skills and products with other professionals? Will you host monthly or quarterly “lunch and learns” for architects to discuss different product categories their clients may be interested in?

2.CEDIA 2015 Planning: Get flights and hotels while they are still somewhat affordable and before the pre-show rush sets in. Also, at a high level, identify what you want to accomplish this year at CEDIA. Is it about adding a new product category like networking? Finding a new control system to add to your product mix? Really getting into UHD TVs? Expanding your 2-piece projection business? Get into lighting and shading control? Take the time now to figure out what you want to accomplish at CEDIA so that you aren’t running around like crazy once you get there. Also, give yourself time to do some homework on the product categories or companies before you go.

3.Category Trainings: Personally, I need to learn more about lighting. While we don’t install the lighting on the dimmers, we are very involved in spec’ing the product. With all of our clients choosing LED lighting, we have run into some snags. This year, I need to get farther up the learning curve on LED lighting; be it lighting strips, recessed, or fixtures. Our biggest issues have been fixtures that use LED lighting as we have less control over the driver or the bulbs because they are often built into the fixture. What about you? Perhaps you want to expand your networking knowledge so that your company has the expertise to take over the network, bypass the ISP’s router (good luck with FiOS), open up ports for forwarding, create VPN tunnels, and optimize QoS.

4.Product Trainings: Once you know in which categories you want more training, it’s time to figure out which companies and products you will go with. For lighting, I expect to learn a lot from Crestron and will be attending lighting trainings there and picking the brains of their lighting experts off-line. I will also get more in depth with SIMPL so I can be a better integrator by knowing the programming better. If you want network training, perhaps you’ll go with Luxul, Pakedge, Cisco, or a similar company. If you want to go with a new control system, and have chosen Control4, make sure you make plenty of time to get up to speed with trainings. It’s time to start checking out their training schedules and getting a spot for you or someone on your team.

5.Product Testing: OK, you’ve figured out the categories and the products. Time to get them in your hands and play, play, play. Install them in your showroom or your own home and try to mess it up and fix it. My wife was ready to kill me over the past two years, and I built my expertise in networking because I was always changing things around and taking down the network – usually right in the middle of either Dora the Explorer (and the kids would scream) or Real Housewives (and my wife would scream). But my networking skills are now far superior to where I was and I can now better serve my clients.

We all have a lot to do to make 2015 successful. If you are just riding the wave of the economy, you will ride it right back down when things inevitably turn. You need to actively grow your business and control your destiny, or your destiny (and the economy) will control you.

+Todd Anthony Puma
is president of The Source Home Theater Installation, Powered by Fregosa Design, in New York City.