5 Dec 2012
by Tannette Johnson-Elie
With the New Year approaching, many small business entrepreneurs are thinking about strategies to help make their ventures more successful in 2013. Among obvious areas where many may hope to see improvement are cash flow and budgeting, sales and marketing, customer service, technology and organizational development.
While the goals mentioned above can be rolled over from year to year, the New Year is an opportunity to start with a clean slate and take a fresh approach to former objectives and to set new goals that will help improve your company’s bottom line.
In today’s challenging economic times, it’s more important than ever to set resolutions and to develop a plan that not only can help drive your business to success, but can ultimately help the economy.
For a sense of what small business owners should specifically resolve to do in 2013 to make things happen for their companies, I asked several small business experts and entrepreneurs to share their recommendations. Here are their top resolutions for 2013:
As the U.S. economy recovers in 2013, it’s important that small business owners have an eye toward growth, but not to grow their firms too quickly, cautions Randy Crump, CEO of Prism Technical, a 12-employee management consulting firm based in Milwaukee.
“This is a time of great opportunity, but it’s also a challenging time. You’ve got to grow slowly and carefully depending on the resources you have,” says Crump. “It’s particularly a challenge for small businesses that haven’t had access to financial resources during the recession and won’t have it now because many banks are shy about taking on risk.”
That’s why Crump believes it’s important that small business owners develop a plan for where they want to take their businesses and how they intend to get there. Consider a plan your roadmap to help you get where you want to go- whether that’s to grow your revenue to seven figures or to expand or buy new equipment for your business.
Caroline Ceniza-Levine, career and business expert with SixFigureStart, a career and business coaching firm, recommends setting a specific revenue target that’s measurable and directly related to one’s business. “For some people, money is a strong motivator,” she said.
Ceniza-Levine also suggests setting a specific customer target either to grow your customers or to change your customer base to a specific demographic that might include larger customers, people with higher purchase levels or international coverage.
“This also is measurable directly relevant to the business and for people who are more motivated by the people interaction of their business than financial gain,” Ceniza-Levine said.
Frederique Irwin is the founder of Her Corner, a Washington D.C.-based network for women entrepreneurs interested in growing their businesses and has done management consulting for 17 years. Irwin finds one of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs often make in setting priorities for the New Year is they fail to build a performance management plan to help them measure and stick to their goals.
“Many small business owners overlook building a program behind that strategy that they’re so excited about,” said Irwin. “You get to March and April and everybody is caught up in putting out fires and you have no idea whether your strategy is working. You have to manage the how of the strategy. The how becomes the performance management plan.”
With a strategy and performance management plan in place, Irwin recommends small business CEOS and entrepreneurs build an internal communications plan that can be rolled out to senior management and employees.
“On a quarterly basis, give employees an update on your firm’s progress in achieving the goals of your strategy,” she said. “On a bi-weekly basis, reach out to key employees and let them know where you are with your goals and ask them where they are with theirs. It’s not just about setting your strategy, it’s about how you’re going to measure the success of that strategy and stay on top of it during the New Year.”
So there you have it. Now armed with those recommendations, it’s time to plan and take the steps to make 2013 a year of success and growth for your small business.
What specifically do you resolve to do in 2013 to make your business more successful?