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And the winners are … small businesses that celebrate success

K. Murray, U.S. Small business Administration

Have you celebrated the accomplishments of your small business lately?

Perhaps you watched television coverage of the Academy Awards presentation — an event that celebrates achievements in the film industry over the past year. If so, perhaps this popular event will inspire you to consider how well your own operations have gone.

The Oscars honor many aspects of the film-making process — from the costuming that appears on movie screens to the “behind-the-scenes” work that might not be so apparent. The same should go for your small business.

Think about the parts of your business that are readily apparent to customers — store displays or your website, for example. But also think about the importance of what happens behind the scenes that’s just as critical to success — the work of the finance or human resources departments.

Here are a few ideas about translating popular Academy Awards categories to your small business:

Best supporting actor and actress: Acknowledge your team members and the roles they’ve played in helping the business achieve success and reach goals. Maybe there was one project that stands out in which someone went above and beyond what was required. Or perhaps another employee took on a task that didn’t involve his primary skill set, but he stepped up and got it done. These are great supporting actors to have, and they should be celebrated.

Best foreign language film: Language is tough, even when you’re speaking the same one. Use this award as a chance to make note of achievements when your business faced communication challenges — either internal or with a customer — and overcame them. Misunderstood client made happy? Tension among members of a project team mediated? Translating those challenges into successes and learning opportunities constitutes a great accomplishment.

Best visual effects: Did your agency deliver some stunning creative pieces to a client? Did your landscaping business create yard art from a formerly dead patch of grass?  Think back to what you’ve made possible over the last year thanks to the creativity and vision of you and your team.

Best costume design: Costumes are extensions of characters, conveying who they are with a unique look and feel. Your storefront or website does the same in offering a visual representation of your business. Have you had a favorite window display over the year that attracted a lot of customers? Did you redesign your website or freshen it up?

Best picture: The coveted best picture award celebrates how well everyone collaborated — directors, producers, writers and actors — to create the best possible product. Take a look at the big picture of your business. How well do you think you fared? How well did your team come together to deliver and succeed? Did you connect with your target audience as you hoped? Take advantage of a great opportunity to reflect on a job well done.

Many of those who win Academy Awards thank the academy in their speeches. You should thank the people who’ve made your business successes possible by celebrating some of these achievements and acknowledgements with them. Maybe you can make an evening out of it, which also could offer a great team-building event. If not, a spirited e-mail or presentation over morning coffee can help you get your message across and jazz people up. After all, you’re celebrating not only a great year that’s just gone by, but also a bright future built on a solid foundation of success.

K. Murray works as a community moderator with the U.S. Small Business Administration. For more information about the SBA and its programs and resources, visit www.SBA.gov.
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