Small Business New Year’s Resolutions

This is the time of year that we make New Year’s resolutions for ourselves. The most popular include weight loss, exercise, and being nicer to our in-laws, etc.

What about your business? Have you made any New Year’s resolutions for your business for 2018? If not, here is a list of ten that I suggest for any business, large or small. Feel free to pick any one or all of these resolutions for your business.

1. Have a plan. Develop a “road map” for your journey into 2018. It doesn’t have to be a full-scale business plan. I suggest that you start with a one page business plan with your company mission, vision, goals, and strategies. The Wall Street Journal reported that a small business’s chances of success increase by 50% if that business has a business plan. You decide…

2. Develop your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). In order to be (more) successful, a business must differentiate itself from its competition. The best way to do that is by creating a Unique Selling Proposition for your business. Your USP must be a core competency of your company, be unique to your business, and be important to your customers.

3. Create Customers For Life. It is not enough to satisfy customers anymore. Satisfied customers are not loyal customers. Satisfied customers will leave you in a heartbeat for a better deal. Your objective is to “own” lifetime customers. Read Ken Blanchard’s book “Raving Fans” for a refresher course on this resolution.

4. Think Global. According to best-selling author Thomas Friedman, “The World is Flat”. What are you doing within your business to capitalize on global opportunities? The options are limitless: importing, exporting, outsourcing, etc. If you are not currently capitalizing on these strategies, now is the time to begin exploring your options.

5. Assemble a Board of Advisors. Every business can benefit from getting the insight of a non-partial, third party advisory group on a regular basis. They don’t have to be a formal group or even be compensated (maybe a meal). The key is to find a group that has no direct fiduciary responsibility to you. Their primary interest needs to be your growth and success.

6. Invest in Training. The American Society of Training & Development has determined that for every $1 a business invests in training, it can expect a $5 return on investment. That beats the Stock Market. My recommendation is to set a goal of one day of training per month.

7. Be Healthy. Your physical and mental health will have a dramatic impact on your company’s bottom line. Exercise at least 30 minutes each day. Learn to better manage your stress levels. Watch your diet. Get an annual physical.

8. Keep Score. Managing a business is a lot like playing a game. It might be fun for a short period of time not to keep score, but ultimately we need to know who’s winning and losing. The only way to do that is to keep score regularly (daily). For every business, there are at least three numbers that you should be tracking every single day. You decide what those numbers might be for your business (sales, receivables, bank balance, inventory, etc.) and start keeping score.

9. Network. It is important that you leave the friendly confines of your office on a regular basis to interact with current and potential clients, suppliers, lenders, advisors etc. I recommend that you belong to three networks: an industry group, a local business group (Vistage), and a service club (Rotary, Kiwanis, etc.).

10. Become an Expert on your Business. Write a newspaper article, give a talk, get quoted. Position yourself as the local expert in your field. This may be the most cost-effective form of guerilla marketing available. In most cases this type of publicity costs nothing and could generate considerable results in terms of increased sales, new clients, and positive public relations.

Bonus…Bonus…Bonus…Bonus…Bonus…Bonus…Bonus…

Have Fun! You have chosen to own this business. Likewise, you can choose to have fun managing it. Your new top title is CFO (Chief Fun Officer). Sometimes you have to make work fun. Celebrate new accounts. Take your employees to a ballgame. Be spontaneous. Be the employer that clients want to work with and employees want to work for.

Have a happy and profitable New Year in 2018.