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Seven 2011 New Year resolutions for business profit

It's getting that time of year again.  We vow to eat less and exercise more.  Go from a size 12 to a size 4.  Do this, stop doing that.  Sadly, we tend to be very gung-ho about it on January 1st and 2nd, but, by the month's end, they're either forgotten or quietly dropped in the bin of broken resolutions.

So why even bother writing about New Year resolutions.  The fact is, they actually serve a great purpose, even if we don't follow them.  Let's have Alice and the Cheshire Cat explain it...

Alice: Oh, no, no. I was just wondering if you could help me find my way.
Cheshire Cat: Well that depends on where you want to get to.
Alice: Oh, it really doesn't matter, as long as...
Cheshire Cat: Then it really doesn't matter which way you go.

And so it is with life in general.  If we have no direction, any road will get us there.  But New Year resolutions can help us formulate an idea on where we want to go.  Of course, putting that plan into action is an entirely different thing!  So let's make a start!

1. Just do it! Yes I know, Nike's already coined that one.  But doesn't that just sum up determination to a tee?  Just do it...  set your path and follow it, single mindedly, with determination, and with optimism!  Fortune favors the bold.  Be teachable, but don't be distracted.

2. Make an obtainable goal.
So often we make our goals way too lofty.  If you're 100lbs overweight, don't set your goal to lose 100lbs in a month.  Be realistic.  So, decide you're going to make your business 10% more profitable, or whatever is sensible in your industry.  And make mini goals along the way.  Reward yourself for get 25% of the way, 50%, 75%.  Don't defer all the celebration to the end - that kills enthusiasm.  Celebrate the small successes. 

Part of your goal setting should be monthly and quarterly goals.  Like the riddle goes, "How do you eat an elephant?  Answer; one bite at a time."  Your goals need to be realistic, but not too easy.  So make your goals just a little outside your comfort zone.  You normally speak to 10 people a day, for instance.  Make it 12 for the first 1/4, 14 for the second, and 16 for the 3rd, 20 for the 4th.  Adding just 2 a day (till the 4th 1/4 when we up the ante a bit - push outside your new comfort zone) will DOUBLE your calls in any week.  And that will double sales!

3. Work smarter. Wow!  This is such a huge topic.  Maybe I'll do a whole series of blogs on this one day.  The opportunities to work smarter, and therefore more profitably, are huge.  Automation, outsourcing, multi-tasking, combining tasks, streamlining processes.  None of these are new, unless you've never done them, or thought of them, before.  Take a look at any given day.  What do you do?  How could you do it more efficiently?  Here's an example.

We used to track changes in website rankings with a different piece of software than we do now.  It did the same work that the new package does.  But the new package does it automatically, on a schedule!  Now the report turns up in our email box (and the client's too) without us doing anything.  That's automating.  Look for any area where there are manual tasks and ask, "Can I automate this?" 

Or maybe it's more cost effective to outsource.  So many businesses, small businesses especially, are cash poor.  So Mr Business Owner does everything himself.  He's the postal clerk, letter writer, filing clerk, web "expert", marketing "expert", and maybe, if there's time, he'll do the real business of his business.  I discovered long ago that it was cheaper to get a professional to do the jobs I wasn't proficient in to free up my time to make money doing what I WAS good at.

4. Declutter. One of the most paralyzing things in a workplace is mess. Not only does it just plain get in the way, but it tends to suck in important notes and memos, quotes and invoices, and any other very important document you need right now.  SO take some time to clean and organize - you'll work much more efficiently and happily if you do.

Now I'm not into loads of paper.  I'm no greenie (sorry Greenpeace), but I just abhor the space all those cabinets take up.  So, instead of that, look into an electronic solution in a Document Management System.  One of my life's other hats is secretary to the village we live in.  That's where we're heading now.  All documents filed electronically.  But not just search-able by an obscure file name.  Add tags and notes to each upload, and most will search inside the document too!  So not only is your office tidier with less paper, but you can actually find stuff too!

5. Really get online.  Yep, many reading this will already have a website.  So you're all comfortable in the knowledge that you've got that covered.  But ask yourself...

  • When was it last updated?
  • When was the last fresh content added?
  • How much traffic comes to it, from where, on what days?
  • When did you personally, last add to it?
  • What are your keyphrases, and where do you rank for them?
These are vitally important questions to your online success.  If you can't answer them, or the answers are bad, you're wasting opportunities.  There are about 13,000 searches made per second on the net.  A bad website is going to miss the vast majority, or, more likely, 100% of them.

6. Get social. For those who aren't established on Twitter and Facebook (not OR, but AND) the right time was years ago.  However, it's not too late to start.  Get your pages set up and working for you.  We get huge traffic from FB without many followers.  Get links on your site. Talk about it, mention it in your blogs.

Twitter, especially, has some enormous possibilities for traffic.  With the right software, or a media expert who has them and knows the strategies, you can precisely target twitter users who are asking about your product, and send then messages and tweets AUTOMATICALLY!  Yes, without you even being online!  Do you understand the power of that?

7. Am I in the right place? As a final thought, ask yourself, am I positioned in the right place?  That could be your business - am I marketing in the right places, with the right product to the right people.  Or it could be, am I in the right business?  Perhaps this New Year, you need to re-evaluate just where your business is going, and maybe it's time to change or supplement.  Maybe it's a good time to look at other avenues of income - not necessarily ditching your current business though.

The business experts will tel us that there are a few things to consider when looking at a business.
  • Is there a market?
  • Is the product good?
  • What's the competition?
  • What's the market saturation?
Obviously, an exciting business opportunity where there's a solid market wanting a good product, with little or no competition, and where almost no one has it is an entrepreneurs dream!  If what you're doing now isn't cutting it for you, maybe it's time for change.  Time for a new New Year resolution.

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