Archive for December 2nd, 2011

10 Great Business New Year’s Resolutions

December 2nd, 2011

The New Year is soon approaching and now is the time for you as a small business owner to reflect back on the year and make an objective evaluation of the state of your company. Determine what you want to pull forward into the New Year and what you want to leave behind. Then, let go of 2011, no matter how tough or how successful a year it was. What’s done is done, and the only thing to do is to move forward and onto greater success, even if you need to make some course corrections to improve operations and change your fortunes. Make 2012 the best year possible; personally and professionally.

Many business-related New Year’s resolutions encourage one to set goals, plan, prioritize, delegate, follow through and follow up. Others tell you to improve your marketing strategy, re-focus your sales tactics, improve your customer service, provide for more employee inclusion, and provide for your own improvement. And your accountant is advising you that these resolutions need to include staying current with your record keeping, analyze your financials, create budgets and projections, and understand your financial statements. And of course, everyone wants to make more sales and generate more revenue.

So out of all that, here are ten great areas to focus on to make you a successful entrepreneur in 2012: 

1. Set goals and prioritize
When you set your business goals for 2012, make sure they are specific, measurable, attainable and trackable. Once you have them in your sight, you must create a hierarchy to your projects, dividing them up by A, B, C, etc., priorities and then break them down further into the tasks to do weekly and daily to make them happen. It will keep you on track and make you successful.

2. Focus and delegate
Focus your time on making money. Be wiser at how you spend your time. Stop doing work that does not generate income and focus your time on activities that generate income and growth for your company. This means delegating non-income producing work to other employees (or outsourced contractors) and focusing your time on activities that will grow your company, such as publicity, marketing, and sales.

3. Only market to prospects that can actually pay for your product
Stop trying to sell your products or services to people that do not have the money to buy. You can waste a lot of time on prospects that show inconsistent interest. Separate out the “tire kickers” from the buyers by determining the customer’s budget, who the decision makers are, and the time-frame for their purchase. Generating new sales is expensive, so fill your funnel with people that will actually buy from you. Have you been working on prospects that no longer return your phone calls or emails? Cut them from your hot list and put them back into your marketing funnel to be contacted at a much later date. Only call on prospects whose pain you can relieve, whose budget is clear to you, and who can make the buying decision.

4. Meet with customers and vendors face to face
Stop relying on email and the phone as an exclusive way to talk with customers. Even in a social media world, deep and long lasting business relationships are still built in real life.

5. Embrace networking as a key marketing strategy
People sometimes say that business success depends on who you know. But those that embrace business networking as a marketing strategy understand that it is much more a factor of who knows you that will bring success to your business.

Make it your practice to regularly attend business networking events, make new contacts, follow up with them and keep an eye out for “power-partners”, those people who sell to the same pool of potential clients or customers that you do. There is synergy in those relationships that will benefit you both. But don’t go into a networking event looking to sell people on your product or services. Make it a point to spend more time asking about their business than telling them about yours. Strive to become a trusted source for referrals. When it comes to building long term relationships, few things are better than helpful information provided out of a genuine concern for the other person.

6. Invest in yourself and learn at least one new skill
“Old dogs can learn new tricks.” You are probably already investing in training for many of your employees. This year look at becoming proficient in an area where you are weak or afraid. Learn something new. What you choose to learn may be directly related to your business, or completely unrelated. Learning something new will add to your skills and add a new dimension of interest to your life, an important part of achieving a healthy work-life balance. Depending on how you choose to learn, you may meet new and interesting people, who may become customers, colleagues, or friends. How will you find the time to learn something new? By delegating, remember New Year’s Resolution number two above?

7. Drop what’s not working for you and move on
All products aren’t going to be super sellers, all sales methods aren’t going to work for everyone, and all suppliers or contractors aren’t going to be ideally suited to your business. If a technique or a product or a business relationship isn’t working for you, stop using it. Don’t invest a lot of energy into trying to make the unworkable workable. Move on. Something better will turn up.

8. Stop letting your money sit in someone else’s pocket
Commit to strict accounts receivable practices. Establish a credit limit for each account and enforce it. Process ALL invoices immediately; take action on late accounts right away. Start with a polite but firm personal call and don’t get off the phone without a commitment for payment by the end of the next business day. A few days improvement in collections will substantially increase your cash flow. Take your accounts receivable seriously. Protect your business, yourself and the ones you love

9. Learn to understand what your financial statements are telling you each month
Many business owners are too busy to check, or don’t understand, their financial statements. Make a commitment to learn what the profit and loss, balance sheet and cash flow statements mean to your business and use them as a guide for future action. Delegate the work of putting them together, but do not delegate the understanding to your bookkeeper, manager or professional.

10. Get over your fear of growth
In my work with entrepreneurs, I see a paralyzing fear of growth, of expanding beyond controlling everything yourself. What to do? Plan your course of action and then mindfully move through it and expand. Determine the areas that must grow, in resources, staff, product development, sales, etc., and invest in what will generate the biggest bang for your buck. You can’t make the living you want if you don’t grow beyond doing everything yourself. Make this your year to grow!

So, with all the things you know you can do to improve your business; these are some of the key areas that you can put your efforts into that will boost your operations past their present state and into new and exciting territory. See your vision. Set your goals. Make a plan. Work the plan. Be relentless. And resolve to have your BEST year ever!