Monday, January 4, 2010

New Year's resolutions

"Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each New Year find you a better man." ~Benjamin Franklin

Every year I try to take some time at this time of year to both reflect on the past year but try to develop some great resolutions for the following year.

I think that 2009 was one of the toughest years for most business owners have ever had. Revenue fell dramatically and businesses had to continually lay off staff. Additionally, they had to continually cut expenses to manage their cash flow. Just surviving through this very tough year deserves to be applauded as so many small and many large businesses failed.

Moving on to 2010, there are so many important things to be considered. First, I think that the economy will improve especially, towards the end of 2010. However, it is going to be quite a few years before when employment will get back up to where it needs to be to support our population.

In terms of resolutions, the first should be a bigger commitment to managing cash flow. As it is going to be awhile before banks start to lend to small businesses, cash is going to continue to be the asset that must be managed so carefully. Increasing cash inflows and reducing cash out flows is the path to managing case. After all, happiness is generating continual positive cash flows.

The second resolution is to make sure that your staff stays motivated and excited about the future of your company. There is so much uncertainty in the news, your company must be viewed as a very certain and viable business for continual employment. Managing the culture in your business must be planned for and managed in 2010. Companies that take the time to both measure and then act on improving their culture are going to do very will in this New Year.

The final resolution is to focus on sales and look to expand sales by building up sales to your existing customers, which is the real low hanging fruit. As the economy starts to improve, now is the time to lay out plans to start to increase sales and to increase your market share. Focusing on your existing customers is 15 times easier than trying to recruit new sales. However, this is not the year to ignore new sales as well. As many firms start to gain more confidence in the economy, there will be so many opportunities for sales expansion. I think a valid resolution and goal is to have sales increase by more than 10% for 2010.

While 2009 has been incredibly hard, 2010 will be better! The things to concentrate on for 2010 should be making sure you effectively manage your cash flows with a plan that should not require very much in new bank financing. Additionally, you need to both monitor and manage the culture and morale of your business to make sure that there are no reductions in these critical elements of your business. Finally, increasing sales this year is so critical as the economy will be improving which is a perfect time to increase market share.

You can do this!!

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