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New Year’s resolutions for small businesses

I have to admit it…I am a terrible failure at keeping New Year’s resolutions.  I’m pretty good at making them as I can always sees areas for personal improvement that need a bit of attention but keeping them…not a chance.

My hope is that as I share some potential New Year’s Resolutions for businesses in the Grand Valley that you are more disciplined.  These are really pretty much common sense but all too often we get caught up in the daily press of our “to do” lists and don’t stop to take stock and make changes. 

Here is a list of resolutions that can lead to business success in 2012.  Pick one or two and I hope they help lead you to more economic prosperity in the coming months.

  • Promote your business regularly and consistently.  We are all bombarded with messages every day.  By some estimates we see up to 5,000 messages each day and hear a similar amount.  If you are going to create a top of mind awareness in returning and new customers you have to be consistent.  Tools for Business, a free service that any business can access on the Chamber website, www.gjchamber.org has multiple tips on how do these consistently.  Check out the “Selling and Marketing” section for free online courses about marketing and branding.
  • Join a Networking Group.  Being around other business people is good for you and your business.  The opportunity to learn how others do it, utilize their contacts and techniques and get honest feedback is similar and in some cases better than having your own board of directors.  Not to toot our own horn but the Grand Junction Chamber is a master at hosting networking events that can get you connected.  Ask any staff person about our Leads program, Networking at Noon, serving on a committee and more.
  •  Learn something new.  Using that Facebook page to drive customers to your storefront yet?  Heard about some of the new policies you absolutely need to have in your business does personnel handbook like medical marijuana usage and other emerging workplace issues?  The pace of change is staggering and it is hard after working your business for 12-14 hours a day to keep up but if you are to succeed you must never stop learning.  Colorado Mesa University, the Business Incubator Center and others offer courses all the time.  Resolve to sign up for one.  In addition the Tools for Business on the Chamber website can link you to several online courses. 
  •  Drop what doesn’t work for you and move on.  Not all sales techniques are going to work and not all product lines are going be super sellers.  Have the courage to let go and move into different lines of business and different marketing venues.  A question that our board asks every year at our planning session after we’ve added dozens of new things we’d like to do is “what can we let go of?”  Targeting your resources in economic times like this is absolutely necessary and you have to be willing to jettison those non performers where you find them in your company.
  •  Make time to plan for your business future weekly. What they say is really true…failing to plan is planning to fail.  As noted above the pace of change is accelerating and you no longer have the luxury of doing a semi-annual business check up.  You need to look at the data, look at the world around you and make plans that will insure your business is staying ahead of the competition and continuing to be profitable.  Set aside an hour or two each week to look at where you are and where you want to be.  Then plan to make it happen.  Setting goals and developing action steps weekly keep your business and you nimble enough to react to rapidly changing markets.
  • Give Something Back to the Community.  Grand Junction is a very giving community and our need is also great.  Utilizing your business to help fund a food drive or bringing your business expertise to the board room of a nonprofit is not only good for the soul.  It is good for business.  You never know where that contact is going to come from that will lead to additional business.  And, it does not have to take a lot of time.  The Chamber has the 500 Plan for instance where your commitment is one hour per week for eight weeks.  The plan matches business people with students in 3-5th grade to practice reading skills and has been shown to raise CSAP scores.  Find a cause in 2012.
Diane Schwenke has been the President/CEO of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce since 1989. She can be reached at 970-242-3214 or by email at diane@gjchamber.org.
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