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Business owner resolutions for the New Year

Inside Business

Posted: December 16, 2008 7:30 p.m.
Updated: December 17, 2008 4:55 a.m.
* The economy might not be working for me, and it might not be working against me, so to play it safe, in 2009, I am going to be satisfied with flat revenue. We will worry about growing the top line in 2010.
* I'm going to increase the bottom line 10 percent because we are all going to watch the pennies and reduce discretionary spending however and wherever possible (and it is possible!). I'll solicit from the employees how this can be done and use a percentage of the savings in monthly prizes for the best ideas to spur on creativity. I think we will all be surprised how much can be saved when we put our heads together.

* I recognize that some of my clients are having a tough time right now and I resolve to work with them on pricing and payment terms provided they work in good faith with me.

If I take care of them now, they'll help us when we need it. 

* Some employees are worth more than others because they are more focused, use resources like time more efficiently and are always looking out for the company. For those employees I resolve to provide more recognition, to seek out more opportunities for them to take on additional responsibilities and to provide them with more compensation. I'll have my managers identify the employees we need to take better care of. 

* I understand that I do not have all the answers to all the problems and opportunities that face the company. I resolve to ask for help more often and will listen to what people advise me. I won't just seek out the advice of my attorney and CPA but will use other business owners outside of my industry for greater perspective. 

* I am going to listen to my gut instincts more in 2009. I think that by doing so I will be ahead of the kind of problems that I have ignored in the past and have caused me great stress because I failed to listen to my own instincts.

* Learning to be a better leader is something I will spend more time and energy on in the coming year. If I don't know all the answers as the top executive I shouldn't pretend that I do. I have come to the realization that what got me to where I am today will not necessarily get me to where I want to go and where I want to take the company. So something has to change: me. 

* I'm going to stop hitting the management alarm bell every time something comes along. I admit I used to do it once in awhile for amusement to make sure everyone was paying attention but I realize now that by doing this it served no purpose. I need to stop being a firefighter and start being an architect. 

* The calendar is a very useful tool that I have not used wisely. In 2009 I will calendar weekly individual sessions with my direct reports to help them stay focused, grow as leaders and to provide help if they need it. I will calendar major company events, including due dates for management and financial reports, performance evaluations and those key things that will lead us to having a better organized and focused company.
* I will lead by example. I won't just "talk the talk" I will also "walk the walk." I will encourage my management team to call me out when I am not doing so.

* I will have the finance department map out a plan to forecast revenue by client, expenses by department, profitability and company cash flow. That will help everyone in management to better understand what they are responsible for accomplishing.

* In 2009 I am going to be more visible to my employees, spending time with each employee to see how they are doing and to solicit their feedback. I'm going to do this by simply walking around, talking and listening. 

* I will spend more time with clients, reaching out to them to get their candid feedback on how we can improve our service to them.

* I am going to work with my management team to create a marketing plan to build the reputation of the company in the marketplace. There are probably plenty of things we could be doing that won't cost money but will make a positive impact. 

* Accountability is lacking in my company so we'll be starting quarterly performance reviews. I'll start by reviewing my direct reports by the end of March.
n We seemed to have lost a sense of urgency in the company and it disturbs me that we have become complacent. Maybe this is why I was hitting the alarm bell so often, to get people focused and moving with a sense of purpose.
I'll take the responsibility and resolve to instill a new and greater sense of urgency so that every employee strives to quickly take care of our clients and each other.

* While it seems that we have a lot to improve upon, we do have a very good organization. We need to start celebrating successes in the new year to remind ourselves of that.

Kenneth W. Keller is president of Renaissance Executive Forums in Valencia. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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