It might be cliché, but beginning the year with renewed enthusiasm and new goals can be a major boost to business success and an excellent way to get back to business basics. Instead of making unrealistic resolutions, aim to make some simple changes to improve your chances of business success. Here are some suggested starting points.
If something isn’t working in your business, let it go now and try something different. Whether it’s a relationship, a product or business method, if it hasn’t worked in 2011, recognize reality and move on. Both professionally and personally, many of us waste time and money trying to force a square peg into a round hole. Resolve to act when something is not working and make a change immediately. Be willing to listen to others who might have the experience and insight to steer you in a more productive direction.
Make business planning a weekly activity. Don’t wait for the next month or quarter to review your company’s progress. Business moves at lightning speed, and in order to correct mistakes or identify new opportunities, it makes sense to evaluate your progress and goals each week. This way you can make corrections when the changes needed are still minor and relatively easy to implement. In a tough business environment, weekly strategy sessions will give you more control over your own destiny.
Promote your business consistently – in good times and bad. When you’re busy, it is easy to ease off on new business activities. Unfortunately, that is when you most need to keep your efforts going to keep your business healthy. In today’s economy, problems with your clients’ business affairs can come out of nowhere and hit your bottom line fast. Keeping existing customers happy is important, but it’s equally important that you identify new prospects and constantly market your business to new clients.
Give something back to your community. Don’t try to spread yourself too thin, but do find a local cause or charitable organization to support. Find something that is close to your heart or a logical fit with your area of expertise. Whether your contribution is in cash or in pro bono work, this type of giving cannot fail to energize you and help you appreciate your own good fortune. Although this work should never appear to be self-serving, good deeds generate recognition and enhance business reputations. Although the payback might come in unexpected ways, it rarely fails to materialize.
Differentiate between being busy and being productive. Running your own business presents you with many varied tasks – but they are not all of equal importance. Resolve to manage your own time better. Start by delegating minor tasks to others so that you can expend your energy on things that are critical to your business success. Prioritize your daily activities and begin with the most important first. Show others that you expect them to respect the value of your time as you value theirs. Insist that all company meetings have a short written agenda, that they start and end on time and that a participant documents all decisions, tasks, assignments and deadlines.
Extending this list wouldn’t be hard, but these five simple suggestions can provide a practical framework for success in 2012. Use them to improve your personal productivity and to also provide your staff with a great example of business leadership.