This is the time of year we close the books on another year of business. For some, it was a great year. For others, it could have been better. But, the good news is that we all start each January 1st anew.
Here are some resolutions that will hold you in good stead for the coming year.
Remember, “happiness is positive cash flow” – Review your outstanding payables, your days outstanding for the year ending payables and your account receivable policies to assure that you are receiving what is owed to you and when it is owed. You also should address head-on slow pay accounts to implement changes to assure that you are receiving timely payments. On the other side, you should review your cash flow, month-to-month, especially if you are a seasonal business to assure you have adequate cash during the slower winter months.
Keep sales generation on your personal agenda – As a business owner/manager, you have two management fundamental functions – cash management and sales generation. Analyze where your sales come from. Most of us get 80% of our sales from 20% of our customers. If you are a retail business, analyze how you are driving sales to your door and modify your marketing strategies accordingly. If you have a service business, make sure all of your 2014 customers know you appreciate them, so as they evaluate their service providers they are aware of your appreciation of their business. Be up front and center, personally with your customers.
Stay focused – Business gurus are often quoted, “stick to your knitting.” Opportunities will come along that seem almost too good to pass up. Dust off your mission, your objectives, and available resources before starting something new or expanding into a new venture. Make sure it doesn’t dilute your mainstream business and take your eye off the ball.
Hire for culture, train for skills – The people you hire make up your team that represents your business. Your team represents your brand’s values to the buying community. It is much easier to hire members of your team that has the values you want than to try to change their attitudes and approaches. You can always train them for the skills you need.
Hire slow, fire fast – Take the necessary time to evaluate the personnel you are hiring. Use your valued team members to interview candidates, as well as yourself to make sure you are hiring the best. And, if the decision is wrong or the performance of an employee is not up to par after appropriate counseling, fire fast. A festering sore becomes an infection in the body of your organization.
Take ownership of your customer service issues – Accept accountability for what goes wrong, and there are times a project does go wrong. Your customers will stick with you if you work out the issues upfront and quickly, then move ahead. If you don’t, they will look someplace else to get the services or products you offer.
Plan your way to growth – You cannot get to the end game of your business goals by hoping you will get there. Create a business plan. Treat it as a living document. Review it regularly. Update it as appropriate. If you do, you’ll have a guide to get you to your company goals. The “maybe syndrome,” (maybe we should advertise, maybe we should add sales personnel, maybe we should buy an additional service truck) of business operations will be supplanted with a viable business plan. Investigate Business Model Canvas concept vs. traditional business planning for your next operations plan https://canvanizer.com/new/business-model-canvas.
Use social media to stay connected to your customers -Your customers are connected. If they are not connected to you, they are connected to your competitors. Use all the social media that you think your customers and prospects are linked to so you can stay top of the mind.
Get feedback from your customers to keep your offerings fresh – There is nothing more valuable than hearing how your customers feel about you, your company, your team, your offerings and what you can do to make their experience with you more fulfilling. Ask them. Then ask them again. When you show you are interested in their input, they will give you the most valuable insights about how to maximize your impact on them. Your interest in them will also create WOM (word of mouth) about how customer focused you are. Try it. You may not like everything you hear, but it is far better than just guessing and being wrong.
Make time for yourself -“me time” – Invest in yourself, just as you would in equipment or marketing. Take time to learn something new each day. Take time to go to the gym each day to keep your body healthy and ready for the rigors of small business ownership. Take the time to be with your family for dinner each day. Be present. Take time to get away from the business at least once a year. Be up. Be fresh and ready to tackle the challenges of entrepreneurship.