Break out the bubbly: it’s time to celebrate 2011. Here, six business leaders weigh in on how SBOs can make this year the best (and most profitable) yet.
“A small business owner’s attitude entering a new year is really critical,” said Dr. Deborah Brown, MBA, a business coach based in Deerfield Beach, Fla. “If you are still beating yourself up for things that happened in 2010, you won’t be able to network as effectively. Let go of any negativity from last year and start this one re-energized.”
Harness top talent
“In this recovering economy, your top performers might be courted by your competitors,” said Brown. “Make sure you are meeting their career development needs. Especially if you have a skeleton crew, it is very important to keep them with you.”
Focus on money making
“Each day, pick three of the most important actions that will move your business forward and generate income,” advised Mike Taubleb, principal at Promenade Speakers Bureau, LLC, based in Brooklyn, N.Y. “If you are a small business owner and are not closing sales, you are not making money.
“Figure out what you are doing on an hourly basis and see if it will lead to sales in the short or long term. Make sure to do tasks that will not generate income when your customers will not be as accessible by phone, like in the evenings or on weekends.”
Build a new position
“Appoint a chief customer officer,” said Mark Stevens, CEO of MSCO, a marketing and business advisory firm based in Rye Brook, N.Y. “Every company has a chief financial officer, a chief executive officer and so on, but few have a chief customer officer. It is his job to advocate for the customer, act like a customer and check the business to make sure it is a fanastic place to do business with.
“This person could be someone who is already on the payroll and would identify what the customers needs and wants and puts the processes in motion to deliver.”
Take out 10 percent
“Stop selling 10 percent of the products or services you now offer,” Stevens suggested. “Chances are, they don’t sell and you’ve kept them as part of your business 'just because.' Focus your energies on what is selling well and bring innovative products or services into your offering.”
Learn to manage
“Without effective management, a company will just spin their wheels,” said Jerry Siegel, president of JASB Management Inc., a business management consultancy based in Syosset, N.Y. “The best thing small business owners can do is to learn to manage. I recommend talking to a business coach who can help them determine their challenges and build plans of actions to reach their goals.”
Stop bad marketing
“Put an immediate halt to marketing initiatives that you cannot measure or don’t know if they work,” Stevens said. “If you don’t know, they likely do not produce. Focus your marketing efforts that do.”
“At the beginning of the year, speak with four professionals who can help you move your business forward,” said Christine Clifford, CSP, CEO and president of Christine Clifford Enterprises, a speaker and entrepreneur. “Start delegating. If you try to do it all, you will drown.”
Write a lessons learned list
“No matter how successful your business has been, if you don’t take notice of what worked and what didn’t, you are bound to make the same mistakes again,” said Maria Marsala, CEO of Elevating Your Business, a coaching, consulting and education company based in Poulbso, WA. “A lessons learned list or report will detail the project, what worked well and what you could change next time. Use those lessons to make your business better.”
Target 25 percent growth
“Refuse to accept any less,” Stevens said. “Once you set this as a target, lay out a of plan for how your company will achieve this growth. Being successful in business means you have to be comfortably uncomfortable. If you are always comfortable, you can’t be successful.”