Get your business off to a successful start for 2012! In reflecting on my own goals for 2012 and what I hear in talking with business owners every week, I jotted down 10 tips for a successful 2012. If you work on all or even some of them this year, you will make a positive difference in your business and your life.
- Have a plan
Strategic planning is critical to every business. Take time this week to plan for what you want to achieve in 2012. Be specific about revenue goals, personnel resources and other critical factors that need to happen for you to achieve your plan. If you have already done some pre-planning for 2012, review your plan so it is fresh in your mind and set measurable action steps to take.
- Make a budget
Create a budget that projects your income for each month and projects monthly expenses that reflect overhead costs of running your business and specific expenses needed to achieve your revenue. These specific expenses can include cost of additional personnel to produce the projected revenue and marketing costs to drive the leads needed to achieve your plan. Be sure to track your actual results to your budget each month.
- Maintain a client data base
If you have accurate and complete data for your customers and prospects, you will be able to communicate with them regularly. Your existing clients and people who have inquired about your services have already shown interest and loyalty. Develop those relationships!
- Create a plan to communicate with your clients
How do your customers like to hear from you? I suggest you reach out to them a minimum of 4 times per year and as often as monthly if that works for you. Decide on a mix of communication methods that both fit your budget and are effective to reach your customer and referral partner groups.
- Determine new markets and make a marketing plan
Are you trying to build your business by getting new leads from target markets other than your existing customer base? Most small businesses are. Identify the demographic and geographic characteristics of the markets you want to reach. Do some research on the best way to contact them. Are they best reached by mail, via the internet, or by personal referral? Once you reach a conclusion, decide on a marketing plan to get their attention and to help them select your business to serve their needs.
- Be clear about what you bring to your market
Determine your value proposition. What do you offer and how does it solve a problem for your customers or how does it enhance their lives? Knowing what is really important to your market and how your business can uniquely fill that need makes it easier for them to choose to work with you.
- Hire wisely and train well
Your plan (see number 1 above) will tell you what people you need to make your plan succeed. Know what skills and personal characteristics you need to hire and write out a job description that reflects them. Take your time hiring and be selective – give yourself the best opportunity to get the right people in place. Then train your people through formal or informal (on the job) training to do the job the way you want it done. Give new hires a reasonable time to succeed, but if you see you have the wrong person, let go of them quickly. You will be doing both of you a favor.
- Sell profitable work
Make sure your pricing and productivity match your profit targets. There is often a temptation to discount your prices or accept less profitable work to keep your employees busy, and sometimes that strategy is OK from time to time. But overall your goal is to create a good living for yourself and your employees. Set a fair price for your product/service and your market and work to attract the type of customer who values you, (see numbers 5 and 6 above).
- Measure and Monitor
You’ve no doubt heard the saying, “What you can measure, you can manage.” Set targets and Key Performance Indicators that let you know if you are on track. Some metrics that most businesses should track are sales targets, leads, close ratio, budget to actual revenue and expenses, profit margins, job productivity, personnel turnover and customer satisfaction. Of course there are many more that you can track and there are some specific to your own business or to your industry. Choose a few that are the most critical to your success and review them at least monthly, so you can take action if the numbers aren’t in line with your plan.
- Be positive
Thinking positively and speaking positively make a difference in your attitude, and I would suggest, in your results! Your team will benefit from your positive outlook as well. You, as the business owner, set the tone for your business. Why not make it one that radiates success?
Looking for some structure to help you implement? Check out our 10 Week Intensive starting on January 10.