October 23, 2014

Top 10 Resolutions for a More Profitable Year

new year's resolutions for profitable small businessLoss 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.”

* * * * *

Dr. Susan L. Reid on accidental entrepreneursAbout: 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.

29 Comments ▼

Susan L Reid


Susan L Reid 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.

29 Reactions

  1. Good list of resolutions. #3 is my favorite. We all could save a fair amount of money by scaling back on our technology services and supplies. Do we really need all the bells and whistles for every gadget?

  2. Hi Susan
    Some consulting partners just told me about The Go Giver, by Bo Burg and your post echoes the idea of giving. Beautiful. Thank you for some great resolutions to start the year. You have said all this better than anyone else so far! Thank you.
    TJ

  3. Have had 3 years of breaking even since startup in 2006 and while satisfying, your title is my resolution for 2009. Studying!! And see you on Twitter.

  4. Number three is one of my favorites too, Amanda. Keeping things simple and get back to basics will be a theme for many small businesses this year.

    Thank you TJ and Nina for your feedback. Yes, see you on Twitter!

  5. This is a wonderful post. Thank you for your insight! I find #2 very important. People cut through bull very quickly these days, we need to be transparent when building relationships! Keep the wisdom coming, it’s appreciated!

    ~Elizabeth

  6. @Elizabeth: I agree on #2 — people do cut through the bull super fast. Something that I’ve noticed is that people are now calling Drip Marketing a new thing: Lead Nurture. I take offense at this idea not because I blog about Lead Nurture and the importance of it, but because sales and marketing people are missing the point of *nurture* which means to encourage, to serve.

    Lead Nurture in my mind is thinking about the customer, the prospect, and what they need to do their job better. Not about marketing materials sent in a constant barrage. Transparency is clutch to making any of this work. If you are not honest and transparent about what you are doing, people tune you out.

    I mentioned Bob Burg’s book, The Go Giver, above, but misspelled Bob’s name and didn’t remember to include the link to his latest post that included a great example of what i think Susan is trying to say. Worth a look: http://www.thegogiver.com/blog/2009/01/01/these-go-giver-are-cleaning-up/

  7. Hi again Susan. I’ve re-read this post at least 5 times now and keep finding inspiration in it. I’m going to have to blog about this at my own blog on Dun & Bradstreet. Thanks and I’ll send you the link.
    TJ

  8. Susan, this was a very good post. The suggestions were terrific and I think that they will be huge in the coming year and into the future. I really thought #3 was a very important one. I would add a little bit to number 3 though. Don’t just look to cut back, look to do things more efficiently. The difference really is that you keep doing the task but you find a way to save on how you do it. There are many places where this could be an option.

    Again, great post.

    Jeremy
    http://refocusing.wordpress.com

  9. Hi Susan,

    I love the resolutions especially #1. I just have to clarify this -> What values have I let slide while trying to succeed? <- Quiet confused.

  10. #1 I think is the true key. When you focus on your niche specialty:

    – you feel at home and relaxed.
    – you provide higher value to the client.
    – you naturally deal honestly with them, since you have few doubts
    – you keep improving your depth of knowledge in that niche

  11. In the down economy, saving money and being green will run hand in hand. Anything companies can do to save some money usually saves the environment in some way or another.

    Come out with a product/service that does this and now you’ll see some profits.

  12. @@MattWilsontv: Matt, i think you’re right on about this. I would say that the web 2.0 trend and talk is at the heart of this — meaning that many startups today are creating mashups and dynamic, collaborative applications that save people time, effort, and money.

    I think on the simplest level — web-based applications give us one less CD and plastic film case to contend with in a landfill…

  13. TJ and Elizabeth – agreed. Being transparent will be so important in 2009. It will be seen as a strength, coming from a place of inner knowing, and integrity. Plus, I think people respect transparency. Even if they don’t agree or like what they are seeing, at least they are being given the opportunity to make an informed decision, rather than being manipulated or fooled into seeing something else. We saw enough of that in 2008!

    Thanks for blogging about my article over at your blog at Dun & Bradstreet, TJ. I look forward to reading what you have to say.

  14. @Mary Grace – “what values have I let slide while trying to succeed” refers to what sometimes happens when we compromise or sell out our business ideals in the name of success. In 2009, business success needs to be built upon the sure foundation of core values. This will create our primary greatness, strengthen our character, and increase our contribution as small business owners.

  15. Dr. Susan L. Reid: Could you tell me how you came about with the first part of the book title, “Discovering Your Inner Samurai:”

  16. @Martin – sure!

    When I left the world of academia in 2004, I found myself deeply resonating with the heroic journey archetype of the Samurai.

    The word Samurai means service and the name was conferred on highly skilled martial artists who used Zen as their operating philosophy, making their inner journey the foundation of their outer expression. To reach this level, Samurai were disciplined, focused, and intentful in utilizing the outer support of others and the wisdom of their inner self, what I call the Inner Samurai, to guide them along their journey.

    This was the inspirational seed that flowered into the creation of my business and book.

  17. Susan,

    Thanks for the story behind the title! I have trained human self-defense called jiujitsu. Have you read James Clavell’s books?

  18. @Martin – you’re welcome. Interestingly enough, I’m re-reading his “Tai-Pan” right now. And, of course, I’ve read his “Shogun.” I take it you have read his books? Which ones are your favorite?

    I’m a long-time Tai chi practitioner – been enjoying the 48 for the past couple of years.

  19. Hi Kare,

    Indeed, Covey’s third “c” – collaboration – is very important for 2009.
    And I couldn’t agree with you more – less one-way charity – more two-way support. As you said, “everyone has something to share with the other person can be anything from cross-consulting to co-creating……
    that lifts the spirits and the value for both parties.”

  20. Susan,

    That’s funny! :) I have read some of his books. My favorite is Noble House. I was reading it before my business trip to Asia in 1992. I stayed two weeks in Hong Kong. I also visited Macau, Taipei, and Bangkok.

    I think your comment got me sparked to watch Noble House TV mini series again! :)

  21. P.S. Susan: We have to talk more about Tai Chi and other forms of martial art exercise later on. I will send you an email.

  22. Love the quote by Quincy Jones “Don’t limit yourself to one area of expertise. Expand, grow, explore!”

  23. Great article. Very well written. True points you are making about business profitability. We have many clients that ask us in our business consulting practice how to become more profitable.

  24. Have had 3 years of breaking even since startup in 2006 and while satisfying, your title is my resolution for 2009. Studying!! And see you on Twitter.

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