While we are all familiar with the making of personal New Year’s resolutions (maybe too familiar!) a recent and emerging trend is to make New Year’s business resolutions. The challenge of course is that, like personal resolutions, we want our business resolutions to stick.
So how do we do that? Experts say that people who are able to make and keep resolutions know not to bite off more than they can chew. Here are a few simple, easy-to-implement, small business resolutions that can make a big difference this year. Additionally, you can watch a video here, where I ask several small business owners what their 2012 business resolutions are, and how they hope to achieve these resolutions throughout the year.
1. Create a board of advisors: Entrepreneurs generally like to help each other. By creating your own board of advisors you can give the people in your life a way to help you. Your lawyer, business colleagues, or even your friends can all be part of an informal board. Even if it is as simple as hosting a dinner twice a year, you can create an invaluable way to receive important feedback, spark some new ideas and have discussions that could help your small business. For example, I have a friend who hosts a pizza party whenever he has a new idea; he uses the opportunity to share his thoughts and gauge the reaction of his panel.
2. Find a mentor: While, like a board, mentors can also offer valuable feedback, they can do so much more. Mentors make introductions, open doors and teach valuable lessons. If you don’t have a mentor, finding one should not be difficult; it is just a matter of asking. Last week, an associate asked me to mentor him and I was flattered. Whomever you ask will likely feel the same way.
3. Get bigger and better clients: With budgets continuing to be tight, consider looking for clients with bigger budgets – such as government contractors or corporate clients. You may think that this wouldn’t work for your business. Consider this: even mini-marts whose customers are almost exclusively individual consumers could try and land some commercial accounts.
Why not you too? Target some businesses that need what you sell. Make a presentation and pitch them. Try some more. Think differently. Get out there.
4. Give yourself a raise: With the economy being what it has been, many small businesses have kept a lid on fees and prices for years. Well, maybe this is the year to raise prices a bit, nothing dramatic, but enough so that you can increase your bottom line.
5. Create a referral rewards program: It is simple, yet so effective. Your best business often comes from referrals. Check out the option of creating a consistent system for staying in touch with current customers, and then rewarding them when they send new business your way.
6. Bust a move: Many small businesses have been retrenching, waiting and holding back the past few years. While it might be a smart strategy right now, it is against our nature as entrepreneurs. There just may be pent up demand for something new, different and better this year. Find those new customers and attack new angles.
What are your 2012 business resolutions? Share your plans and ideas with the SBOC community below.
About Steve Strauss
Steve Strauss is one of the world’s leading small business experts. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. Steve is also the author of the Small Business Bible and his latest book is Get Your Business Funded: Creative Methods for Getting the Money You Need. A popular media guest, Steve is a regular contributor to ABC News Now and frequently appears on television and radio. His business, The Strauss Group, creates unique, actionable, entertaining, and informative multi-media small business content.