12 Dec 2012
By Tannette Johnson-Elie
As 2013 approaches, many small business owners are thinking about the New Year and what it can bring to their business. While it’s critical for entrepreneurs to plan for the future, it’s also important to reflect on the past year and the lessons learned.
Last week, this blog featured several small business experts who shared their top resolutions for small business owners for 2013. Among key tips shared were: keep a cautious eye toward growth, set specific revenue and customer service targets, build a performance management plan and keep the lines of communication open with key management and staff.
For part two of this New Year’s resolution mini-series, I decided to ask small business owners and entrepreneurs to reflect on 2012 and discuss what they would do differently in 2013 to make their businesses more successful. Here’s a roundup of what they had to say:
Gail Sideman, owner of PUBLISIDE Personal Publicity, a public relations and media relations firm based in Brown Deer, Wis., is not big on resolutions as she sets quarterly goals for her business. Even so, Sideman urges small business owners not to lose sight of marketing as a priority for the New Year. It’s important that entrepreneurs continually work to improve their marketing efforts, she said.
“The one thing that should never change is the priority to market, publicize and let potential clients/customer ….know that you’re open for business and meeting the needs of the day,” said Sideman.
Nevertheless, if there is one thing she wished she had done differently related to her business in 2012, Sideman said she would have been more patient, particularly when seeking new clients.
“I may have well given up pursuing a client or two because past experience told me that if personnel didn’t sign quickly, based on the timing of each project, they weren’t going to commit,” she said. “Sometimes one day is simply better than the next for a business to commit to a task as big as a publicity project. Businesses, after all, are operated by people, and they have other things besides your quote in their lives.
Marcia Cunningham, certified chef and caterer from Zion, Ill, a far northern Chicago suburb, wishes she had done more in 2012 to build her catering company’s brand. Cunningham is the owner of Marcia’s Caribbean Cuisine, a private catering company that specializes in Caribbean food and gourmet American cuisine.
“My goal for 2013 is to let my brand be known to a broader base. I want to expand in the local area and in the North Shore of Chicago. I want to do more summer events and festivals. That way people see you and they get to know you,” said Cunningham, who has operated her catering company for 13 years. “I also wish I had put more time into advertising and social media. It’s a sacrifice. You have to be committed to this.”
Reflecting on 2012, Daphne Wilson, an engineering contractor, wishes she had sought assistance and resources like mentoring to help her business weather last year’s tough economy.
“I wasn’t taking full advantage of opportunities that were placed before me due to wearing too many hats,” said Wilson, president and owner of Zoe Engineering LLC, a 14-year-old engineering firm based in Milwaukee. “I’ve made some changes. I am rebuilding. I’m reorganizing those skill sets and areas I do well in and those areas where I don’t do well, I’m getting help.”
Lastly, Linda Jackson, entrepreneur and owner of LMJ Fitness in Gurnee, IL, wishes she would have been more engaged in social media in 2012.
Like many entrepreneurs today, Jackson recognizes the importance of making use of social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter as a marketing tool. LMJ offers customized wellness solutions, including nutrition supplementation and exercise.
“What I would have done differently in 2012, I would have utilized Facebook and LinkedIn,” said Jackson who has been in business for two years. “I really didn’t use technology a lot in 2012. My goal is to expand my network and reach more people on a one-on-one basis through social media. This will allow me to understand the needs of my customers.”
With 2013 offering the promise of a better year than 2012, this may be the ideal time for entrepreneurs to reflect on areas where they can improve and to develop strategies that will position their companies for growth this year.
Reflecting on 2012, what do you wish you had done differently to make your company more successful in 2012? What plans do you have for the coming year?