If I see another motivating quote for 2013, I think I might be ill.

A new year begins. We all want to know what it will bring and how to overcome its challenges but too much business advice is trivialised by the quick ‘sound byte’ and the snappiness of the ‘top tip’.

Business is hard; we have to think hard when planning to make the best of it.

“The difference between try and triumph is a little umph”

I found the above while looking for quotes for 2013 on the web. I laughed at first, and then I didn’t.

I’m sure that if the ability to ‘keep calm’ and put in a little effort was all it took for a business to succeed, everyone in the wet leisure industry would be rich.

But business is hard.

To succeed in 2013 will take tough decisions and realistic planning. The economic outlook is not exactly full of sunshine – there is more detail on that here – and the weather forecast is, of course, a complete mystery.

Doing a good, solid and realistic business plan for 2013 is probably the best, first action you can take. Whatever area of the wet leisure industry you are in, your business is basically about cash in vs. cash out.

Turnover is only worthwhile if you are extracting enough profit from it.

As some margins get squeezed, it’s easy to look at a sale and think, ‘Well, at least I’m making a few quid out of it’. But that profit margin has to contribute to all of your costs and overheads. A business plan will let you see more clearly which areas of your business are valid and whether some simply aren’t.

Of course, you can help matters by reducing your overheads, but after two years of austerity is there really that much more to cut?

It is always worth doing some price comparisons on utilities as the energy and telecoms companies are feeling the pinch too and there are deals to be made and lower tariffs to look for.

For business planning for the year ahead in a bit more detail, follow this link.

But when all is said and done, cutting costs will only get you so far and if that is the only road you go down it is almost forced to end with, one day, turning out the lights and shutting the door for the last time.

And no one wants that to happen, do they?

Don’t keep calm; take control. Don’t carry on; do something different.

Planning for the year ahead needs to have a positive side as well.

It needs to be about finding better customers, offering better products and making better margins.

The world has changed – and is changing – and it isn’t all about crisis and recession. There is money to be made and business to be done but it might not be found in the old, familiar places by methods that you think of as tried and trusted.

Positively the most important part of your business planning for 2013 will be your marketing strategy.

In tough times, people think and behave differently.

Will people be looking to invest in their health and wellbeing or indulge in a luxurious lifestyle? Sales messages targeted at either of these consumer attitudes could lead to a hot tub sale, but which do you think will get the attention of the biggest audience today?

Money spent on marketing isn’t a cost, it’s an investment; but like all investing it needs to be done carefully and thoughtfully.

Putting all your eggs into one basket isn’t likely to pay off. If you spread your money too thinly, you might not get seen.

The way to make these tricky decisions is to have a good, sound strategy. A marketing strategy defines where you want your business to be in the market and what sort of customers you want to attract.

There are a host of articles on marketing on Wetleisure.com but you might want to start with this one, which is on how to come up with a marketing plan.

Deciding what to sell is as important as deciding how to sell it.

There are innovative new products on the market.

Manufacturers are operating in the same economic environment as you are and they are just as keen to see their businesses grow.

It’s not always easy to keep up with new trends and new developments but fortunately on the 3rd, 4th and 5th of February there is SPATEX. It is the best opportunity of the year to check out all the new products that are available and it couldn’t happen at a better time of year.

If you are attending SPATEX, and I sincerely hope that you are, there is an article here about how to get the best from your time spent at the show.

There will be a great deal to see and a lot of people that you will want to talk to and the article gives you some thoughts about how to organise your time to best effect.

You’ll probably be thinking that Brighton will be a good opportunity to review your supplier arrangements for the year ahead and I hope that you will come and visit us on Stand U130. We look forward to seeing you there.

Finally, somewhere else where you might like to be seen.

As I’m sure you know, aside from Wetleisure.co we have three consumer facing websites, YourPool, YourSpa and YourSauna.

The idea behind these sites was to provide a source of the very best information for any potential customers who were interested in these areas of the wet leisure market. The sites have been live for just over a year now.

Each site already contains between 40 and 60 articles and they are proving to be very popular.

We have a lot of statistics about increasing traffic on these sites but one fact is bound to get your attention.

Each of those sites has had between 5 and 9.5 thousand unique visits since launch.

Those visits represent customers interested enough in that area of our industry to be actively searching online for more information.

And what do they see on the site? They get a, well-written article that answers their questions and leads them to find out more – and that article is sponsored by a business that operates in the field that they are interested in.

That business could be your business.

The sites are designed to generate leads and enquiries, and they can do that for you. For Golden Coast account customers, that ‘sponsorship’ costs you nothing, just get in touch and we can get the process started.

We have also started carrying adverts on the YourSites for some of our account customers.

Wetleisure.co currently has almost 400 members and we are confident that we will reach 800 in the next few months.

If you are not already registered on WetLeisure.co take five minutes to do that now, while you are online, because all of our Golden Coast account customers will have their information displayed on each of our consumer sites.

All the best, we look forward to seeing you at SPATEX and if you have any thoughts you’d like to share about any issues raised in this newsletter then please use the comment box below.

All the best.