How to Build a Strong Business in 2014

Tuesday Dec. 31st, 2013

Twenty thirteen is a not too distant memory but its time to put next year in proper perspective and create a plan to blacken the bottom line.

Look at your books from 2013. What happened during the first quarter of last year? Was it good? Bad? Average? Set some goals for the first quarter of 2014 and get your business off to a good start. You know what it took to do the business you did last year. What’s it going to take to do 5-10% more in the coming year? If you think your business may have a hefty tax bill coming due in April that might be a good incentive to have a good first quarter. Once you have momentum going in your business it’s hard to slow it down. Get busy early in the year and you’ll most likely stay busy all year.

Start a “Swipe File”
Another reason to start in January is because many businesses did 25% of their yearly sales in the previous December. For that reason alone its well worth looking at this time of year. One of the techniques I advise in my seminars is to start a file on each competitor and start clipping and saving their ads each and every month for the coming year. I know you are busy during this time of year so make a pile to clip later if you must. But it’s very important that you know what your competitors are doing and how it’s affecting your bottom line. You will be very happy next Christmas when you pull out your file and know what your competitors did in 2014, how it affected your business and how you reacted to it. And, if you keep a monthly file in 2014 you will know what to do in every month of 2015.

Read, Read, and Read
Next, you need to read more. Anyone who spends just 20 minutes a day reading something about their industry will know more about that industry at the end of the year than 75% of the people in it. If you get trade magazines thumb through them and tear out the articles of interest and throw the old copies away. Give some to employees to read and report on at your next meeting but make sure you read them too. Educating yourself and your employees about your business just makes good sense. Employees that feel knowledgeable feel powerful and usually give better customer service. We all enjoy showing off our expertise to others. Convert employees into readers too.

The second reason for reading is that your industry is always evolving. Technology, like it or not, has a profound effect on business in general. If there are better or more economical ways of doing things in your business you need to not only know about them but make plans to implement them as well. If you fall behind because you are afraid to make the investment it may cost you twice as much down the line to remain competitive.

Some Final Thoughts
The important thing to remember is that the days of just opening your doors and crossing your fingers and having a successful business are over. Consumers are more demanding, competition is more fierce, there are more regulations, and much more risk to succeed in business than ever before in our history. So it boils down to who are the true business professionals? Who becomes a student of their business and really works it? Those are the successes we read about in the trade journals and business pages. Will you be one of them in 2014?

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