by George Rodriguez for PowerHomeBiz.com
Every new day gives you a chance to move forward from your present situation. You can improve your business on a number of fronts: by increasing profits, reducing losses, getting more customers, expanding the markets, becoming more visible in the community, going public or a number of other items deemed desirable.
You must have a vision of what you want to achieve, where you want to go, and what you want the business to become. Learn ten ways you can improve your business:
1. Start the year in high gear. Take a notebook (or a laptop or PDA) and jot down your thoughts and plans for the year. It’s the time to get excited to the prospects of this New Year! List down ideas on new product lines, or new projects that you want to take on. Write down your ideas on how to expand and energize your business. Only through innovation and continuing adoption of relevant new products and ideas can your business improve its competitiveness and profitability. Start the ball rolling with financers, lenders and bankers if you need to take on additional capital.
2. Dust off your business plans. Review, review and review your business plan. See how far (or little) your business has taken shape from your original idea. Many entrepreneurs write a business plan at the start, only to forget about it. Some stray away from their plans – and fail. Go find your business plans and update it. Since your business’ inception, a number of factors must have changed – from the overall business climate to your product line. Take all those changes into consideration, factor in your and your family’s goals, and get a clear assessment of the direction of your business. Get in touch with your business advisers, if any.
3. Rekindle your relationship with your customers. The start of the year is the perfect time to tap your customer database
and get in touch with your existing customers. Whether by phone, email or letter, contact your customers to greet them “Happy New Year!” and remind them that your business is ready to serve them this year. You need to constantly look for ways to encourage repeat business. Although marketing and advertising are important to get more customers, quality, service and customer satisfaction are what keep a business successful in the long run.
4. Evaluate your pricing. Think about raising your rates. Now is the appropriate time to inform clients that your rates are going up. Just be sure to check out what the competition’s doing and make sure your prices or rates aren’t too low. You don’t want to overprice yourself out of the market, yet you should not bear the burden of a cash flow shortage. Give your customers a month or two advance notice should you decide to increase your rates.
5. Find ways to cut your costs. Even if you have secured funding from investors, you need to constantly look for ways to reduce your costs. From making double-sided paper copies to ordering shipping supplies in bulk, you can reduce wasted material, effort, and time in making, selling, and delivering your product. The result is an improvement in your company’s bottom line and an increased competitive advantage.
6. Resolve to improve your weak spots. Take stock of all aspects of your business operation and list down the areas that you want to improve. If your list of delinquent receivables is longer than Santa’s list, find out how you can improve your billing and collection process. Perhaps you need to improve your record keeping to help flag you on delinquent accounts.
7. Institute measures to assess the performance of your business. Setting clear standards for your business allows you to determine the effectiveness and efficiency of your strategies. If you haven’t done so in the past year, start determining how much you are making per hour of work, how effective your advertising is, and some other measurements of where your business has been. Set some benchmarks and periodically assess how your business is doing. You need to know what you consider an improvement before you can start to improve on it.
8. Keep employees involved. Good employees are hard to find; yet they are an important element in your business. Check to see if they are getting what they need and make them part of the team. Help them understand the importance of their role in your business and how their job impacts the business as a whole. Review your relationship with your employees and find ways to keep your relationship happy and avoid costly attrition.
9. Explore new markets or improve marketing. Start the year by exploring new markets for your business. Whether you are looking at targeting a new demographic or getting your business up on the web, take time to plan how you can expand your existing market. Look for ways to improve your marketing, whether by winning easy publicity, arranging an open house or preparing direct mails.
10. Find out how you can live a more balanced life. Work and business are not the be-all and end-all of your life. Learn to have fun! Spend more time with your family. Take a vacation once in a while. Engage in activities that will rejuvenate your spirit and your life. Take care of yourself, and your health. Your productivity and focus will improve if you are stress-free and healthy.