Happy new year — new beginnings

Economic forecasts continue to be an ongoing topic of conversation with business acquaintances and clients. No question that the past couple of years have been getting better for most businesses. There are signs of continued improvement for 2014.

Economic forecasts continue to be an ongoing topic of conversation with business acquaintances and clients.

No question that the past couple of years have been getting better for most businesses.

There are signs of continued improvement for 2014.

Every business owner should do their own personal annual review in order to plan the upcoming year.

What goals didn’t you accomplish last year that you need to this year? Determine what the priorities are for your business in the upcoming year.

Write down what you want to accomplish in order to take the next step to ensure your long-term vision.

Review your vision and mission statements to ensure they are relevant.

Review what makes your business unique.

If you do not offer something unique, why would anyone buy from you?

Hiring new staff

In Central Alberta, the unemployment rate is at or below 4.5 per cent. This means great team members are going to be much harder to find.

Make sure you know exactly the type of person you are looking for. Write down at least 10 attributes a person should have for that specific position.

Don’t rush through the recruitment process.

You may be under pressure, busting at the seams with work; or the last person that moved on left a hole in your operations with no one able to fill it.

Too often, the temptation is to just take anyone with a pulse that even remotely looks like they might fit the bill.

The truth is this usually does more damage to your business than good.

Develop a clearly defined job description for the role.

This simple document ensures that both the employee and employer won’t end up disappointed and disillusioned.

If there are no clear guidelines, it’s that much harder to do the job correctly and to meet expectations.

Make sure you have a meaningful orientation process followed by some form of mentorship to enable the new team member to acclimatize and contribute to their new environment.

Building your client base

Rate your clients A, B, C and D. Fire your D clients, the ones that chronically pay 60 to 90 days late and the “whiners” that take an extraordinary amount of staff time.

Every time my clients have fired their D clients the void has been filled very quickly with better clients. Getting rid of D clients helps to retain staff, drive costs down and allows more attention to be paid to A and B clients.

I recommend that every business owner read Raving Fans. This excellent book gives you insight not only on how to keep the clients you have, but to make them raving fans of your business — the A clients that promote your business for you.

Learn about the loyalty ladder and how to move your clients up the ladder until they become raving fans’.

Learn how to attract new clients using strategies such as strategic alliances, host beneficiaries and referral programs. Plan to test and measure what works, repeating what does and stopping what doesn’t.

Take this information and create SMART — specific, measured, achievable, reasonable, time-oriented — goals for each area. You must include the activities you need to complete in order to meet each goal.

Assign activities to the appropriate people, including you. Each activity should be scheduled by the person responsible. Completed activities add up to completed goals.

Completing and adhering to a 90-day plan takes practice and discipline. If the goals are unrealistic, or not well thought out, the plans will ultimately fail.

When we achieve the goals we set, we increase our trust and confidence to make and keep commitments to ourselves and others.

Remember 98 per cent of the wealth is controlled by the three per cent who have written goals that they follow.

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