December 29, 2011 at 4:07 PM
"Now is a great time..."
By Polly White
Santa Fe Business Musings
Polly White is a local business owner, active community member and astronomy geek.
Small businesses need to practice the goal-setting and follow-up that the ritual of New Year’s resolutions provide. We can all learn from 2011. The things that went better than expected should be remembered and continued and improved. The things that went worse than expected need to be looked at and corrected. Now is a great time. We can get “buy-in,” otherwise known as expected cooperation, from our staff and co-workers more easily in January than at any other time of the year. We often hear that people resist change and larger one-time tasks. It’s so true, and it can be so counter-productive. I like to take advantage of the fresh start concept to improve things for next year. Because if we don’t improve, we’re going to be left behind, right?
Support the small and local campaigns
The success of our local Santa Fe businesses is a collective effort. Our net profits rise and fall together based on a huge matrix of factors. One of those factors is the percentage of cash in the large flow that stays here. You could consider joining the Santa Fe Alliance and supporting their “I Buy Local First,” or switching to a local supplier over an out-of-state one, or offering a locals discount.
Pay attention to the technology
We can all use the New Year energy to focus on the digital side of our businesses. Things change so fast that even the best of us have trouble keeping up. We can make an effort to improve our websites, add connections to our social media tools and consider capitalizing on the mobile markets. Remember when personal desktop computers were the game-changer? They looked like 18-wheelers next to a sleek sports car when laptops took over. Now people are connecting to your business through something that fits in their pocket! Think about this. Is your website optimized for this? Is your website current or outdated? Is your Google Places page easily accessible? Do you post and tweet? Are you using Internet marketing, mobile apps, blogs, QR codes or electronic coupons? It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by it all. My advice is to first ask your current customers what technology and social media they use on a regular basis. Then create a reasonable plan for your year and use a systematic approach to making your business tech-current and meeting your customers where they are in cyberspace.
It seems like a “well, duh!” kind of statement, but seriously folks: Make sure you’re prioritizing what brings in revenue and what you do best. Other things can be delegated to other employees, or out-sourced to sub-contractors, or crazy-as-it-sounds, left to your competitors. Last month, I looked at my to-do list and realized that most of the things on it could be done more efficiently by someone else, and the things that I do best (and so enjoy) weren’t getting done. Prioritizing and delegating are so satisfying when done right. If you’re going to change someone’s regular job duties, now is the time.
Check your insurances
There was a big ol' clunk when this fell off the bottom of your to-do list, right? Look at it this way: you might actually save some cash. You could be overpaying for any or all of you business liability, professional liability, work-comp or employment practice insurances. It might really be worth the money to have your agent look at other quotes for you. And the reassurance of knowing that your coverage is exactly right is really nice. Then you can relax and not think about it until next January!
Are you a procrastinator who waits until the last minute to finish up your Quickbooks and get things ready for tax time? It’s worth it to take the time and pull your 2011 financial info together. Your New Year’s Eve party will be a lot more fun when you know that the books are in order. Start fresh in 2012 by organizing your books from day one (even if that means outsourcing your accounting to someone like Santa Fe Business Resources).
Originally posted on Santa Fe Business Musings .