Top three year-end tips for business owners

As the holiday song goes, “Making a list, checking it twice” should remind you not only of Christmas, but preparations for year end and the upcoming New Year. The good thing about business slowing down for the holidays is that you’ll have some time to re-evaluate what you did over the last 12 months. You can take action to address your marketing plans, strategies and your business in general for the upcoming year.

Every business owner/CEO can benefit by spending a little time on these 3 Tips and taking action NOW for your success this coming year:

1. Budget
Last year was a tricky year because most budgets became obsolete quickly, driven by the economy. Budgeting involves making assumptions about how next year will be different than last.

Ask yourself:
What are sales going to look like each month for next year? Its hard to predict things, but write down your assumptions on why you think this or that will happen, so you don’t go back later and wonder why you budgeted sales that way.

Take a hard look at your alliances and business partners. Are you getting the most out of them? What can you do differently next year that would increase your sales?

What is the best case, worst case, and realistic case for sales, capital expenses, software and tools, and operating expenses?

How is your process for budgeting going to be different next year? Are you using a rolling budget cycle that you pay attention to monthly, quarterly, or even weekly? If not, set that up so you keep looking into the future as dynamics in your market change.

Look hard at your costs to see if they make sense. If the numbers don’t make sense to you, get some help figuring out the story behind the numbers.
Do you have the right employees on board?

2. Customer Focus
What percentage of time did you spend with your customers or prospects in 2010? If it’s less than 60%, figure out what needs to change starting in January 2011. I realize us business owners wear many hats, so which hats can you give up to spend more time with your customers? If you answer, “None of them, I do it all” then next year will probably look a lot like last year, or worse.

How often do customers and prospects get multi-touch communications from your company? Make specific plans to leverage all the ways you CAN communicate with them.

Look at your technology and systems. Prioritize your budget to ensure you expand your tools so your employees and sales people can perform at their highest levels.

3. Strategies
Write down in detail who is your ideal customer. Don’t hold back on things like these for B2C (Business to Consumer):
• Demographics
• Income range
• Location
• Lifestyle
• How do they feel when they get the benefit from your products/services?
• Why do they feel that way?
• What do they envision will be better in their life after they use your product?
• Male or Female/Single, Married, with kids.

For your B2B (Business to Business) customers:
• What business they are in?
• Who are their ideal customers?
• How easy are they to do business with and why?
• What do they feel when they buy your products and gain benefit from them?
• Why do they feel that way?
• What do they envision will be better in their life after they use your product?
• What type of people are they and do they match your values?
• Can you become their trusted advisor?
• Who pays you the fastest?

There may an ideal customer for each of your business lines or product lines. When you share that with everyone in your company, they can focus on finding and servicing the good ones. Figure out which customers are a drain on your resources and send them to your competitors.

Strategic planning is an ongoing process, not just a binder that sits on the shelf. Its used internally to drive decision making. Make the decision to review and update your strategic plan at least quarterly next year. If you don’t have a strategic plan, get facilitated help.

Doing this right will give you clarity and direction to crank up your company’s velocity of growth next year.

Take positive action over the holidays and focus on budgeting, your customers, and your strategies. The upcoming year can your best year ever. Otherwise you’ll look back at last year and wonder what happened, as more surprises will be in store for your company.

Available for delivery in late December is the latest book by Marty Koenig and Keith McAslan – Business Owners Handbook – Focus on Management of Money and Leadership to Increase Your Company Value.
{pagebreak:Page 1}

Categories: Company Perspectives, Management & Leadership