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10 Resolutions to Make Next Year Your Best Ever
by Bill Collier

Frequently, when a sports team wants to improve results they hire a new coach. They hold a press conference and the new leader almost always announces that they team is going back to the basics Ö returning to the fundamentals.

Small businesses can learn a valuable lesson from these teams. ďThe fundamentalsĒ never go out of style. Here are ten resolutions for the new year Ė ten business fundamentals that should help you improve your companyís performance.

1.      I will set personal goals and will use my business as a tool for achieving those goals.

Think of your business as a tool for enhancing your personal life. Why else would you endure the risks, the headaches and the hard work if being an entrepreneur didnít provide a better life than you had as an employee? Be sure to use your business to achieve your lifeís ambitions.

2.      I will set business goals, and will have plans for achieving those goals.

Once you know what you want from your business, set business goals that align with and move you toward your personal goals. Then, establish written step-by-step plans for achieving your business goals. Be sure to assign accountability using the following formula: WHO will do WHAT by WHEN?

3.      I will analyze my company's financial statements at least monthly.

Itís important to regularly review your progress and results. Your review should include:

  • Sales, broken down by product/service or customer segments

  • Gross profit, broken down the same way as sales

  • Major expense line items

  • Net profit

  • Cash balance and cash flow

  • Accounts Receivable (if you extend payment terms to your customers)

Look at both month-to-date and year-to-date results, and compare to the same period from the prior year. Itís also a good idea to look at most of your income statement numbers as a percent of total sales. This allows you to spot trends early.

4.      I will use my time wisely.

Your time is one of your most precious resources, so be sure youíre making the best use of it. Use a calendar and set aside time for planning and review. Donít become a servant to the business, either. If you use your business time wisely youíll still have time for family and personal interests.

5.      I will "hire hard" so I can "manage easy."

A bad hiring decision can haunt you for a long time and can cost you thousands of dollars in re-hiring, retraining, lost time, lost productivity and lost opportunities. Donít hire the first person who shows up, and donít make a snap decision. Spend as much time as needed with the recruiting and interviewing process so you can build a strong team who will grow with your company.

6.      I will spend quality time with my employees.

Performance reviews have been described as 30 minutes of uncomfortable conversation followed by a raise. Rather than waiting a year to discuss performance with your team members, visit with them informally at least weekly. Get to know their talents, strengths and weaknesses. Praise them for their good work, and coach them when you see opportunities for improvement.

7.      I will delegate.

You canít do it all yourself, so donít even try. Continually ask yourself, ďIs what Iím doing right now the best use of my time and talents?Ē If not, find a way to delegate those activities to an employee or outside vendor.

8.      I will spend quality time with my customers.

Pick up the phone or better yet, go visit your customers. Find out the answers to these two questions:

  • Whatís important to you? (Quality, customer service, product mix, etc.)

  • How are we doing in those areas?

Develop relationships with your customers. Find ways to stand out from your competitors and to become the supplier of choice.

9.      I will make smart use of technology to improve my business.

Technology has become so affordable and easy to use that no business has an excuse for not going high tech. Even the smallest home-based business can afford to appear bigger and to level the playing field with their larger competitors.

Each of the following areas and more offer opportunities to reduce costs, improve communication, increase productivity and enhance customer service:

  • Phone and voice mail systems

  • Websites, intranets and email

  • Ecommerce sites and online stores

  • Wireless access and remote computing

  • Web-based training and meetings

  • Customer/contact database systems
     

10. I will make next year my best ever.

Build on your successes and learn from your mistakes. Resolve to implement all these business practices, and go into the new year with the attitude that this will be your best year in business yet.

 

Bill Collier is a St. Louis-based business coach, consultant and speaker. He is the author of the book ďHow to Succeed as a Small Business Owner Ö and Still Have a Life.Ē His website is www.collierbiz.com, and his email is bill@collierbiz.com

 

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