Saturday, December 15, 2007

Is Your Business Ready for the New Year?

This article was written by Carl Woodard, SCORE Orange County Second Vice Chairman

With the new year just around the corner, does your list of resolutions sound like this? 1. Clean out the garage 2. Get more exercise …etc., Setting goals is a great idea, but when was the last time you applied the same process beyond your personal life?

Here’s an idea. Consider preparing a list of resolutions for your business! I’ll bet that there are some areas that need cleaning out, dusting off and getting a bit more exercise in 2008. And, you probably know what they are.

Pull out your Business Plan. Did you reach those sales goals that you worked for this year? How is your Cash Flow? Has a new competitor arrived that you did not anticipate? Has that affected your profit margin because you stepped up your advertising and ran two more promotions? By the way, what is your margin? And, have costs caused your breakeven point to move higher than it should? It’s probably time to grab a pen and get your ideas on paper!

While it is always a good idea to revise your Business and Marketing Plans regularly, don’t let that major effort delay putting a few simple, but often overlooked, ideas to work as soon as the clock strikes midnight and the football games are over….well, perhaps you shouldn’t wait that long!

Let’s pick just a few simple ones for starters:

  1. First, find a meaningful way to make your product or service stand out from the competition. You want to be top-of-mind when your customer needs what you offer.
  2. Second, make a detailed list of potential customers to contact as early in the year as possible. Contact them by telephone, an introductory letter or, perhaps, in person.
  3. Next, remember to thank your current customers, regularly. That doesn’t require an expensive gift. Try a phone call or a personal hand-written note to deliver a sincere “Thank you”.
  4. Can you expand your services, or product line, to serve your current customers better? And, since they buy from you now, why not ask them for a referral?
  5. Review recent promotion methods to see if they need improvement. After a while, some methods become stale.

That should start the year rolling with a positive approach. And when you make your list of things to do, remember to contact any of us at SCORE Orange County to help you with your Business Plan, Marketing, Finance or Sales questions or to just discuss general business management with you. Plan to attend our workshops, which are conveniently offered throughout the area, and come to our Women in Business breakfast meetings.

We can be reached at 714-550-7369 to set a convenient appointment or we can be contacted at We have approximately 100 experienced counselors waiting to help you.

Have a successful New Year