Surefire Ways to Reach Your Business Goals

Most of us don’t keep our New Year’s resolutions past the end of January. But this year, I am really going to make an effort to keep the ones I make for my business life.

Hopefully, they’ll be easier to keep than my personal ones. Here’s what I am planning:
Focus I’m an ideas type of person — you know, the big picture and all that. The problem is that I am always looking forward to starting the next venture long before I have consolidated my existing businesses. All that’s going to change in 2010. I am going to focus on my primary business and ensure its success! It is much easier starting something new than working hard to establish what we have, especially for the more entrepreneurial. To help me along, I have asked my mentor to gently remind me to focus every time I start to waver or wax lyrical about some new venture or opportunity I have come across.
Organize my day better  I am already an avid to-do list writer but my ambition always outweighs reality, and inevitably, I fail to finish my daily list which is, of course, counterproductive and leaves me with a sense of failure — every day! So in 2010, I am going to look at my goals and make them more achievable; that way, I can finish my day on a high and be raring to go for the next day. I am also going to put my to-do list up on a white board in my office so it’s in my face. Of course, then I have the great pleasure of using my eraser as I clear my slate.
Make sales a daily activity  This is a tough one. The problem is that, if we are in business, we are in sales. In 2009, I kidded myself that my businesses really needed me to concentrate on the big picture rather than on selling — wrong! It doesn’t matter if we have a sales force or not, as owners or managers of businesses, our primary duty is the act of selling. My New Year’s resolution is to diarize a sales or marketing activity every day — yes, every day! It’s going to be tough, but I am going to make myself take a few minutes out of my busy schedule to push sales forward.
Follow up with new customers, old customers, and contacts  This is another area that I often let slip, so much so that this holiday season I never got around to sending out season’s greetings to anyone. Talk about Scrooge! Not so in 2010. This coming year, I plan to re-connect with all my past contacts and clients just to say hi. I am also going to make it a rule to email everyone I meet the day after and keep in contact with as many of them as possible. I am also going to dust off those thank-you cards I bought a few years ago and send them promptly to anyone that helps me in any way.
Work on my business, not just in it  As someone who, in the past, has been a professional business and strategic plan writer, I am very lax at doing my own. It’s the familiar syndrome, I suppose — the cobbler’s children have no shoes, or physician heal thyself. In 2010, I am going to buckle down and update my business and strategic plans and, even more importantly, develop a sales strategy including goals, objectives, and timelines. I owe it to myself and my businesses to do it right.
Keep up my management accounts  I sat down with my accountant and realized how appallingly badly I managed my accounts in 2009. I started last year off the right way by sitting down each month with my income statement and cash flow spreadsheet, but by March, it had slipped so badly that I really didn’t have a firm grip. Sure, others were looking after the pennies, but as the owner/manager of a business, I should know exactly where the business stands at all times.
Back in the days when I was managing director of a publishing company, I was on a flight with the chairman of my parent company and he brought out a small black book with column after column of tiny numbers. I asked him what they were and he said that they were the daily sales of the company in units and revenues. He showed me 10 years of figures from the first day of the business to the current day. He could see trends occurring within his business, and if there was a downtown or a problem, he could see it before anyone else in his company. This was his job — to keep his finger on the pulse of his business. In 2010, I am going to start such a book.

Work smarter, not harder  I work really hard but sometimes I think that I work harder than I need to do. I am going to look closely at the work I do and decide whether this is something I really need to do myself, or whether it could be done by someone else. Too often, I spend time on things that do not earn my company money or move it forward. It’s like the owner of a small machine repair shop charging himself out at $75 an hour, but who also picks up and delivers the machines. At about an hour for each trip, he could hire a driver or pay a courier $10 a delivery and make his business $65 carrying on doing what he does best. In 2010, I intend to work smarter, not harder.
Communicate more and better So often I think I have communicated something well only to find out later that the person didn’t hear me, didn’t understand me, or didn’t even receive the email I sent. I vow this year to make sure that all the people I communicate with fully understand me and assume nothing until I am certain this is the case.
Be more positive  We all get down sometimes, but the truth is that business is a series of ups and downs. I saw a quote recently that said “positive and negative are directions — which direction do you choose?” At the end of the day, our future success does not rely on what happens to us, but on how we deal with the things that happen. In 2010, I am going to take the good and the bad — I am going to enjoy the good, suffer the bad, and learn from both.
Find time for community involvement  I never have time — it’s become my mantra. This attitude has to change. In this coming year, I am going find a cause I can believe in and donate some of my energy. After all, it’s the most precious thing I possess!