Tag Archive: new_year

4 Ways to Get Your Business Ready for 2012

With 2012 around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about what you might do differently and better next year. Here are a few ideas:

Spring cleaning: Spring cleaning in winter is often a good idea. This can really take two forms. Of course there is the traditional spring clean-up. Give the shop or office a once over. Get rid of the clutter, clean out the storage room, and get into the nooks and crannies. Most of us have some old files hanging around that can be moved or tossed. And what about some new paint, blinds, or even some new furniture?

You, your staff, and your customers will like and notice the difference.

But don’t stop there. Consider some spring e-cleaning. Clean out your computer inbox. Delete unused, old e-files. Back up your system or sign up for a regular, online backup service if you do not have one. Update necessary software. Get some new software and apps.

I am not suggesting cleaning up for tidiness sake alone (though my wife would say that is a fine enough reason) but rather, as a smart business practice. The ugly secret of owning a business is that it can become repetitive and stale. Cleaning things out – both literally and metaphorically –can shake things up for the better and create new thoughts and new avenues.Spruce up your website: If there is a © 2008 at the bottom of your website, it is time for a little updating, wouldn’t you say? We are deep in the Web 2.0 era, meaning your site needs to have some interactive tools if you want to be taken seriously – a blog, some video, a poll, something. If your site still looks like it did back in the day, you are missing a significant opportunity to impress people and get some new business.

So start by checking out Craigslist. There are plenty of highly-qualified twenty-somethings with mad skills who can freshen up your site at very affordable prices. Create some new content and have that whiz kid add it in.

Plan ahead: This is also a good time to get ahead of the game a bit. Make a list of projects you would like to get done in the next six months or a year. Prioritize them. Write them down. List them on the white board. I read today that President Obama’s political strategy is to “have a long-term strategy and goal in mind, and then work backwards from there.” That sounds like a pretty good business strategy too.

Planning ahead can also involve planning for some fun. Build in some time off. And while you are at it, consider some fun things you could do with your employees, or some ways to give them a little extra time off during the warmer months.

Try something new: For many businesses, winter is a slower season. As such, it is a perfect time to try out some new ideas that you don’t have time for during busier seasons. For instance, what about making a commitment to experiment with social networking a few hours a week for a few months? Set up a Twitter account and begin to tweet, create a Facebook fan page or set up Google+.

A new year means new opportunities and challenges. So make sure you are ready. What are your plans for 2012? Share your thoughts with the SBOC community.

10 Ways Small Businesses Can Prepare for 2012

As we approach the end of 2011, it is a good idea for small business owners to take stock of what you’ve accomplished and look forward to some fresh initiatives in the New Year. The following are some ideas to make a successful transition to 2012:

1. Expand the ways that you communicate with customers. Dive into mobile marketing, location-based promotions, blogging and a dynamic social media presence.

2. Stop trying to force your product onto a customer if it is not a good fit. Show your customers you are able to come up with solutions that add value to their business problems.

3. Brainstorm with employees on how everyone can work smarter. Take stock of how much daily time is spent on e-mail; whether you are holding too many unproductive meetings and how to take internal communications to a level that spurs employees to take action.

4. Spend some time on self-reflection and figure out what kind of a boss you are. Do you over-direct, micromanage, enable helplessness, inspire or teach? It may not be easy, but making sure you are a good match for your own business goals is an often-overlooked issue for many managers.

5. Invest in additional training and career-growth activities for your employees. For example, subsidize memberships in industry organizations; bring in a leadership coach; offer reimbursement for career-enhancing certifications; etc.

6. Take real action related to a social cause. Sponsor a fundraiser, write an Op-Ed or go on an overseas mission. You’ll find it not only makes you feel better, but it is highly appealing to the best and brightest young people you may want to recruit to work for you.

7. Walk the floor more. Even with an open-door policy, managers who stay in their offices create a very different work atmosphere than those who get out and spend time among the staff. Take the time to discover something about the personal interests or personalities of the people who work for you. You just might discover some untapped gems.

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8. Redefine your strategic goals after meeting with employees, company advisors and partners to get their input. New goals could include expanding into a new market, merging with a competitor or rebranding your company.

9. Conduct a survey of employees to gauge their level of satisfaction with opportunities for training and advancement, compensation/ benefits and work/life balance.

10. Don’t forget to have some fun: Celebrate the holidays with your staff, even if it’s at the office. If possible, close down from Christmas to New Year’s. Encourage all employees to make end-of-year vacation plans – and remember that “all employees” includes you!