Kick off a cost-cutting, gross profit
building mission. This is a powerful
weapon for an owner. Look for ways to
increase gross profit and cut costs as they
have a dramatic positive effect on profits
and cash flow. Don’t assume that you
know how much things are costing you,
or that your employees are reacting to new
sales opportunities. Take a good look at
your books. And know that sometimes you
don’t have to make cuts; you simply need
to renegotiate vendor contracts.
Reengage employees. Show your
employees that you care. Sometimes it’s
as simple as saying “thank you” for a job
well done either verbally, with a handwritten note, or with a handshake with
$20 attached. You might allow them to
take a paid afternoon off and give them
movie passes. It’s these simple things that
all add up to developing an engaged staff.
Set some realistic, specific goals for
the year ahead. Then, dial up the “
aggression factor” just a little bit more. In other
words, aim high but be specific. If your
goals aren’t measurable, you won’t be able
to gauge your progress and eventually
you’ll stop pursuing them. Setting realistic goals, putting a plan in place, and
routinely checking in with employees to
gauge their progress is the best way to
Boost your product/service offerings.
The products and services you offer are
the core of your business. Think about
what you can do to squeeze out another
service offering with what you already
have in place. People need what they
need, when they need it. Make it easy for
your customers to get what they want.
Revamp your marketing campaign.
Many companies see marketing as an
expense, but it’s actually an investment
and deserves your focused attention.
Think about who your customers are. Are
you marketing to them in a way that makes
sense? Your attention should be focused
on which services are selling and where
your customers go for information. Deter-
mine who purchases your services, who
are the easiest customers to attract, and
which services bring the most gross profit.
Find new ways to impress loyal
customers. It’s essential that you find
ways to protect your customer base
by developing very loyal customers.
Consider what would keep customers
continually coming to your business.
Remember, habits are hard to break. The
more customers come to your business,
the stronger the relationship they create
with it and your employees, and the more
comfortable they feel. Find the answers
to this and you’ll quickly find your sales
and profits are increasing regardless of
Get knowledgeable about economic/
tax changes and how they’ll affect you.
Be proactive and seek out a trusted financial advisor. Ask him or her what upcoming
tax changes will mean for your business.
Or, ask your banker about your overall
market, which industries are showing
strength, and which are struggling.
This can give you a look into the future
on which services may have increased
demand and which may lag.
There’s no reason 2014 can’t be the
best year yet for your business. In order
for that to happen, you have to look ahead.
By taking the time right now to plan for the
year ahead, you’re making big opportunities possible for your business.
Bill McBean is the author of The Facts
of Business Life: What Every Successful
Business Owner Knows That You Don’t.
For more information, visit
The confetti has fallen,
the ball has dropped,
and the champagne has
been popped—2013 is
officially over, and 2014
is underway. For many
business owners, that
means doing a postmortem on their businesses by looking back at what went right
and what went wrong in the year gone by.
The reason for doing a 2013 postmortem
is simple. It supplies owners with current
facts about their business and the market
so they can use the information as they
look forward and plan for 2014. Here, I offer
my advice on what you can do, starting
now, to create success for your business
I suggest breaking down your 2014
planning into what you need to do internally—with processes, employees, yourself,
etc.—and what you need to do externally—
with customers, marketing campaigns, and
Evaluate your leadership. Being a great
leader begins with a self-analysis of your
leadership ability. You have to look carefully at what’s working for your business
and what isn’t. Did you supply the business with what it needed to be successful?
Did you have the right people in the right
chairs? Are employees being paid based
on what you want them to accomplish and
expect from them? Did you let any bad
habits slide that need to be addressed?
What should you do differently this year?
Do a top-to-bottom walk-through of
your systems and procedures. Examine
which processes are working and which
need improvement. Determine which
processes are outdated and exist only
because “it’s the way it’s always been
done.” Rededicate your business to
upholding important processes, and your
understanding that processes operate
your business—and employees operate
Nine ‘Resolutions’ for Creating the
Best Odds of Success in 2014
BY BILL MCBEAN