2022! A New Year! A time to sow… a time to reap… | SBDC UNF

2022!  A New Year!  A time to sow… a time to reap…

January CalendarThe calendar has changed… the economy has changed… later this year some of our elected officials will change, and along with the governmental policies will change.  Will you be ready? If you operate your business the same way you did last year, status quo, you will miss some new opportunities and may become “stuck in a rut.” Here are some thoughts on New Year’s Resolutions…

  1. K. Chesterton (Gilbert Keith Chesterton, 1874-1936), one of England’s preeminent authors and philosophers, made two statements about New Year and Resolutions that I think may be appropriate. Firstly, he said, “Many people look forward to the New Year for a new start on old habits.” That was perhaps his wit as he is often viewed as the ‘English Mark Twain.’ A bit of his philosophy shows in his next statement which was, “The object of a new year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul.”

While a few people make personal New Year’s Resolutions, I have not found any who admit to making business-related ones. Yet, I believe that this is a good idea. Unless you approach the New Year with a fresh viewpoint, you will not be able to recognize and respond to the many changes that will affect how you do business. For example, changes in the economy mean consumer buying habits will change. If you do not adapt accordingly and your competition does, you will be at a disadvantage.\

To help make New Year’s Resolutions that are business-related, I offer the following twelve suggestions:

1. Learn what business you are REALLY in.

For example, if you sell bicycles you are in the recreation, transportation, and exercise business. For example, because people who buy bicycles for exercise could also buy a treadmill or join a health club, stores that sell treadmills and health clubs are part of your competition, not just other bicycle shops.

2. Learn more about your competition than they know about you.

Knowledge is power, what you don’t know CAN hurt you. Spend time to research your competition and conduct a SWOT (Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threat) analysis on them. Think about business as a chess match, where strategy and knowing your opponent can give you the advantages to win.

3. Understand customer needs.

These extend beyond the need for your product or service. The right hours, locations, and services like assembly, delivery, and training can set you apart from the competition and get you the sale. Customer surveys can reveal unfilled customer needs you can meet to retain and grow your customer base.

4. Treat employees as assets.

They ARE your business, your customers may never meet you, but they will have to interact with your employees. Make sure that your employees are invested in the future success of the business, and that working for you is more than just a ‘job.’ Don’t be concerned that this necessarily means higher wages – flexibility, recognition, and respect are highly valued by employees.

5. Develop time management skills.

As an entrepreneur, you have to be involved in all aspects of your business. Being efficient makes it easier to balance those business needs and your home life. Don’t be afraid to delegate – you don’t need to do everything yourself.

6. Get the details right!

Wrong information, poor spelling, too many apologies for mistakes will create the wrong image for your business – do it right the first time. Make sure that your employees are trained for the tasks they may face.

7. Network, network, network.

Everybody either is or knows, a potential customer, supplier, investor, or supporter. Join and become active in business, community, and trade organizations.

8. Focus on the bottom line.

If you’re not focused on profit, you have a hobby instead of a business. Remember, you are in business to make as much money as you can so you can provide a livelihood for yourself and your employees, and by giving back, support your community.

9. Get “wired.”

Use technology to make your business faster, more efficient, and easier for customers and potential customers to access. Keep up to date on the latest automation, apps, software, and other technology that can be used.

10. Stay in the spotlight.

Use advertising, social media, and public relations to keep your business in the mind of customers, potential customers, investors, and supporters. Remember to give back to your community as well, which will keep you “in the public eye.”

11. Improve your security.

Improve physical security in your business to protect yourself, employees, and customers. Improve your data security: backup data often, change passwords for 2022, lock up critical files and records. Employ cybersecurity training for yourself and employees and cybersecurity software and tools.

12. Take time for yourself and others.

To paraphrase Ben Franklin, “Work to live, don’t live to work.” Don’t be a ‘workaholic.’ Make sure you have time for yourself, family, friends, and for making a difference in your community.

The key to resolutions having value is your willingness and ability to implement them. I suggest that you add any ideas you have to the above list and then pick the ones you feel are important and can be implemented. It would be better to pick three and follow through with them than to pick ten and not accomplish any of them.

Your specific resolutions and the number of them you have are a personal choice. But let it BE a choice. Don’t operate status quo and leave the success of your business in 2022 to fate!

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