The beginning of a New Year is always an exciting time for a business owner. It offers an opportunity to look back at 2011 and take stock—what worked well, what didn’t, and what could be done differently in 2012. And it offers an opportunity to create a plan for the future. Today, we’re going to discuss five principles that should be a part of your planning process as you move your business into the New Year.
1) Always focus on providing value. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what kind of business you are in, what products you sell, or what services you provide. What matters is a simple equation: do you provide enough value to justify the price you charge? If the answer is no, you’re not going to last very long. Conversely, if you provide excellent value, you’ll never have trouble attracting new business. So look for opportunities to add value—whether it’s through customer service, product upgrades, or gifts and other freebies that you offer to clients.
2) Trust… but verify! When it comes to your employees, it is important to recognize that they are not motivated in the same way as you are. As the business owner, increased sales means more money to take home at the end of the month. Your employees, on the other hand, are working for a paycheck. Whether you want to admit it or not, in most cases they look at new customers simply as more work. Don’t be naïve—put systems in place to ensure that your employees are earning their paychecks.
3) Inspire “raving fans.” There is no better form of marketing than genuine word of mouth recommendations. Do your best to wow your clients and customers—and you’ll inspire raving fans of your own.
4) Don’t let setbacks throw you off course. It is easy to be idealistic while planning for the future—and there is absolutely nothing wrong with dreaming. However, don’t create false expectations. No matter how well you plan, you will experience disappointment and setbacks in 2012. Understand that setbacks are inevitable—and treat them as a learning experience, not a fatal blow. Every business owner gets knocked down from time to time—how quickly will you bounce back up?
5) Live up to your word. It’s the simple things that matter, more often than not—and one of the most important things you can do as a business owner is simply living up to your word. If you say that you are going to do something, do it! If you tell a client that you’ll have a job done by Thursday, get it done! If you promise your employee time off for Christmas, deliver on your word. In some cases, business owners have good intentions, but simply overpromise. Don’t commit to anything unless you are sure you can live up to your words!
Keep these five principles in mind as you plan for 2012—and feel free to contact me if you’d like to learn more. Good luck, and here’s to a prosperous New Year!