2003 Small Business New Year Resolutions

Jim Blasingame Reserved

This is my fourth annual list of New Year Resolutions for small business. The last three were met with rousing responses and comments. Okay, some of you said I was meddling, but hey, those were responses and comments, and they were the ones that were particularly rousing.

As The Small Business Advocate, it's my job to keep the pressure on, to encourage you to push the envelope, and continually improve and seek excellence. Even if it means that I have to meddle a little.

But before you dismiss me for meddling, take a couple of minutes to read through my list. I predict you will find at least one or two resolutions that you will want to claim for yourself. You might even think of a variation of one of mine that fits you better. Or you might see one that you want to recommend to a friend. (If you are accused of meddling, blame me.)

Also, let me know if you have some of your own resolutions and I'll consider adding them to the list. Some of you have let me know how you've used my resolutions in peer group settings, and I appreciate the feedback very much.

If you were a subscriber last year, you will see that some of my 2002 resolutions have been repeated in the 2003 list. There is an excellent reason for this:


Remember, this is only a list. It's supposed to identify and propose, not provide solutions. Your challenge is to find the resolve, information, and resources to accomplish the resolutions you claim for yourself.

The good news is every single resolution on my list has either been covered in a past article I've written in this space (and posted on my website), or will be in an article next year. Also, every single issue mentioned in this list has been covered, and will continue to be covered on my talk show.

Here are my 2003 New Year Resolutions for our small businesses (yes, mine, too). Now, let the meddling -- and the excellence -- begin.

I resolve to...

...focus more on operating fundamentals.

...do a better job of managing my company financially by creating regular and accurate financial statements.

...learn more about what my financial documents are telling me, especially with respect to the dance between cash and accounting.

...establish a budget for every expense line item on my operating statement, and review budget Vs actual at regular intervals.

...spend more time considering my company's long-term capital requirements, and develop a capitalization strategy based more on retained earnings and less on debt.

...establish a relationship with at least two banks, and make sure at least one of them is with an independent community bank.

...find out how my company's financial condition compares with peers in my industry across the country by checking with industry organizations, trade groups, and/or reports like those provided by Robert Morris Associates.

Human Resources
I resolve to...

...provide more training for my employees, especially in areas like salesmanship, leadership, organization, technology, and teamwork.

...praise more in public and criticize more constructively in private.

...assume the attitude that the fastest way for me and my company to be successful is if I focus more on helping my employees to be successful in each of their assignments.

...use the current temporary lull in employment as an opportunity to upgrade my key employee ranks, so that I have the very best heads upon which to put the many hats we have to wear.

...become a more competitive employer to prospective and current employees by focusing on ways my company can add value to their professional development.

...be a better listener.

I resolve to...

...find out if there are any "Us vs. Them" attitudes inside my company, and eradicate that organizational cancer by creating and maintaining an environment built on trust.

...learn as much as I can about trends and new developments that, whether threats or opportunities, will be part of my company's future.

...consider outsourcing non-strategic assignments -- like payroll, for example -- so that all in-house activity is focused directly on what our company does.

...provide every member of my organization with an opportunity to be an entrepreneur by allowing him or her to take initiative and risks within the scope of their assignment.

...join a peer group of other owners, either in other industries within my marketplace, or in my industry outside of my marketplace.

...begin -- or update -- my company's business plan, use it as a key management tool, and rely on it as the track my company will run on.

...spend a half-day with key employees -- at least once each quarter -- to review our progress against stated goals.

...demonstrate more leadership myself and foster more leadership in my employees.

...become a better negotiator, while continuing to negotiate in good faith.

...do what is necessary to eliminate crisis management from the operation of my company.

...recognize that information can be as much of an asset as capital and equipment.

I resolve to...

...focus more on what our customers need and less on what we need to sell.

...work with at least one vendor to create a new advertising, marketing, pricing, and/or service strategy.

...find out what keeps my best customers up at night and develop a plan that allows my company to help them get more sleep.

...identify at least one new product or strategy that would allow my company to dominate in our existing market or a new market.

...take the internal steps necessary to make loyalty to my company one of the most compelling emotions in the lives of our customers.

...focus more on building communities and less on making contacts.

...find a way to create a partnership with a bigger business -- perhaps even a VERY BIG business.

I resolve to...

...make my web site more valuable to my customers by making it easier to navigate, posting more content, and creating more opportunity for customers to interact with us online.

... increase my understanding of how technology can contribute to profitability by improving operating efficiencies, and then make those improvements happen.

...make sure all my employees are equipped with the technology necessary to make them as productive as possible.

...focus on technology solutions first, and staffing second, when scaling my organization up and out.

...never forget that, when it comes to customers, the wonders of high tech are no substitute for the value of high touch.

...become more informed about how the political issues facing innovation and the use of technology can affect my ability to have this critical resource available to my business.

Public Policy
I resolve to...

...make sure I know who my local, state and federal elected representatives are, and to establish contact with them so they know what small business issues are important to me.

...join and support my local Chamber of Commerce and at least one national small business organization, like the National Federation of Independent Business and the Small Business Survival Committee.

...support, encourage, and vote for small business friendly candidates at all levels.

I resolve to...

...learn how to define success in more ways than just money and stuff.

...study great people in history to find out how one person armed with courage, will, and faith can make a difference to many.

...have more fun this year.

Write this on a rock... The longest journey begins with the first step. Good luck and continue to seek excellence. And don't forget to have fun.

©2002 All Rights

Category: Entrepreneurship
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