Loss of jobs. Difficulty maintaining our standard of living. We’re in a worldwide global recession.
We’ve seen financial markets collapse, mortgage lenders go under, home loss through foreclosures, extreme bailout packages, and growing unemployment.
While it’s true that the pundits of economic trend analysis think that we’ll all pull out of the global recession, there’s no doubt that economic uncertainty will continue to shake Wall Street and Main Street, impacting our personal and business lives, well into 2009.
As President-Elect Barack Obama says, “It’s time for a change.” The U.S. is poised for decision and action. Globally, we all understand that we must find better and more effective ways to work together.
As a small business owner, are you ready to do your part? Are you ready to help get America and the rest of the world back on our feet? Begin by resolving to make 2009 a profitable year for you and your business.
Small Business Bailout Policy
1. Focus on your primary greatness.
Barack Obama had it right. People are ready for a change. They are ready for standards to be raised and for a return to a value-driven way of interacting with others.
Come back to your core values by asking:
- Why am I in business?
- What are the values that were important to me when I began my business?
- What values have I let slide while trying to succeed?
In other words, focus on your primary greatness. As best-selling author Stephen Covey explains, “Primary greatness is about character and contribution. Primary greatness asks, ‘What are you doing to make a difference in the world? Do you live truly by your values? Do you have total integrity in all your relationships?’”
2. Be transparent and honest in your dealings.
2008 turned out to be the year of artifice and subterfuge. People have been hurt and don’t know whom to trust or what to believe.
Make 2009 the year when you do your part to help people believe and trust again. Be honest in your dealings with people. Be transparent in your business operations. This year, honesty will matter. Being a good person will matter. Being authentic will matter. Consumers, employees, and the world will be looking for integrity and eager to embrace individuals and businesses that strive to earn their trust.
3. Keep it simple.
2008 was the year of excess: excess in spending, immoderation in deficit, and overindulgence in more, more, more. In 2009, less will be more. Want to increase your productivity in 2009? Then find innovative ways to keep things simple. Get back to basics and look for simple solutions to running your business more effectively. Find ways to do more, simply.
“Simple yet innovative solutions to everyday problems will gain rewarding recognition in 2009,” says Mireille Guiliano, best-selling author and former CEO of Veuve Clicquot. “Productivity can be hindered by flashing Blackberries and buzzing cell phones. Remove yourself from the gadgets and prioritize using the good old-fashioned pen and paper.”
4. Care forward.
Take advantage of the fact that many industries and businesses are preparing to pare back and cut down in 2009. Don’t follow their lead. Instead of paring back, care forward. Put into place programs that give to your employees, do more for your customers, and support your community.
When the economy picks up again in 2009, the people you cared about and supported will remember. They will remember what you did, and when they have money to spend, they will show their appreciation by investing in your business.
5. Create a loyal fan base.
Ancillary to caring forward is the importance of creating a loyal following. While it is a well-known fact that your best prospects are your current customers, you’ll need to put a plan into action to cultivate that fact in 2009.
Focus this upcoming year on your current customers. Do right by them. Consider their well being when making business decisions. Stay in contact with them and make it a point to know what’s going on in their lives. Not only will they appreciate your effort, you’ll have gone a long way toward creating a loyal fan base that will help you thrive during tough economic times and beyond.
6. Embrace eco-responsibility as an overall business strategy.
In 2008 we saw radical green awareness sweep across the globe. Everywhere, people and businesses were going green. If you haven’t yet gone green, go green in 2009. Go green to improve your bottom line thinking and increase productivity. And if you’ve already been green, flaunt it.
How ecologically and socially responsible you are in 2009 will be important to your customers, to your investors, and to the world. More people than ever before will want to do business with green companies.
7. Master social networking.
In 2008 there was Web 2.0. In 2009, there will be Enterprise 2.0. With the rise of social networking tools like Facebook, Friendster, Second Life, and Twitter, and the increase in people using these sites, you can’t afford not to get involved this year.
Resolve now to increase your social networking interaction in 2009. Or, if you’ve not yet begun, put a plan into place to get started. Use social networking to keep your business edge razor-sharp. The same goes for social media marketing, including blogs, podcasts, online radio, and Wikis. Your productivity will depend on it!
8. Cultivate a culture of collaboration.
When gas prices were at their all-time high this summer, many companies started allowing their employees to work from home instead of commuting to the office. With this cost-cutting move, the way we do business has forever been changed.
2009 will be the year of the mobile worker. Telecommuting is here to stay. Make sure you have platforms in place to cultivate a culture of collaboration that goes beyond the traditional barriers of walls, wires, time, and distance.
9. Find new opportunities for expansion.
“Don’t limit yourself to one area of expertise. Expand, grow, explore!” So says American music mogul Quincy Jones.
In 2008, small business owners merely talked about the importance of expansion and growth. In 2009, you’ll actually need to do it. No matter what industry you’re in, you’ll need to find new ways to expand your business domestically and internationally. Instead of relying on one profit center, create several to increase profitability and generate revenue.
10. Strengthen relationships.
Not enough can be said about the power of relationships in tough economic times. 2008 was a tough economic year. Things will get worse before they get better. Therefore, resist hunkering down and letting your business close in on itself in 2009. Instead, reach out and strengthen existing relationships while forging new ones. “In rocky economic times, small businesses have a huge advantage,” says Gail Goodman, CEO of Constant Contact, “namely, human touch and better relationships.”
People are hurting right now. Use your business to heal the hurt by connecting with others. Take your cue from Keith Ferrazzi, best-selling author and CEO of Ferrazzi Green Light, who says, “Recognize that all relationships are personal. There is no such thing as a business relationship.” Take the business out of relationship and you will be rewarded in ways that far exceed any business expectations you may have for 2009.
2008 has been a tough year for small business owners. As economic uncertainty continues to shake Wall Street and Main Street, it’s time to take action. It’s time for a change. 2009 will be the year when the entrepreneurial rubber meets the road-when small business owners who dream big, win big.
Are you ready? Be ready. Resolve now to make 2009 a profitable year for your business. Implement these top 10 resolutions for a more profitable 2009, and you will be doing your part to help get America and the rest of the world moving forward. “It is the smaller businesses that are gonna get America back on its feet again, ” according to Richard Branson, Virgin founder and entrepreneur, “and it’s up to all of us entrepreneurs to get out there and do everything we can.”
* * * * *
About: Dr. Susan L. Reid is a business coach and consultant for entrepreneurial women starting up businesses. She is the author of “Discovering Your Inner Samurai: The Entrepreneurial Woman’s Journey to Business Success.” Her website is Alkamae.com.