Ask SCORE: A new year’s resolution for your business?

Published 5:15 pm Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Is your small business just getting by? Perhaps your customers no longer seem excited about your product and services? Has the competition been giving you fits? Maybe your staff has stopped offering fresh ideas?

Do you find yourself reacting to events and situations beyond your control? Perhaps you’ve piled up a list of things you would like to do “when I have time.” The new year is a great time to commit to that makeover or business review that you’ve been thinking about to put your business on a fresh course.

Before setting a new course it’s important to know where you are. That requires a top to bottom review of how your business is performing. First look at your business from the point of view of your customers.  Has your customer base changed? Are you keeping your best customers? What do they tell you about how your service is satisfying them? Do they offer suggestions? Are you attracting new customers? Do they tell you how your marketing and advertising is working? What can you learn from your competition? What are the key trends that your trade journal has identified? Our success will be determined by how well we satisfy our customers over time. And we know customers’ needs and expectations and their available choices change continuously. We need to keep up with it.

We need to take a close look at how we are performing internally as a business operation. Studying the financial details, let’s take a close look at everything we are doing and how we might do things with less expense, with less complexity and with fewer re-works. If you have a written business plan, dig it out and compare where the business is today to your earlier expectations. What’s worked well, what has not?

And some brainstorming with trusted advisors, customers, friends, employees and consultants might identify some very good ideas to move the business forward.

Then it’s time to prioritize what you’ve learned and plan the initial steps to freshen your business by taking charge of your actions and not waiting for something to happen, requiring your response.

Yes, this is a lot of effort. But help is available, either from your trusted business advisors or your local SCORE counselor who can help you through the process one step at a time.

Think about it. Make the new year’s resolution that your business needs.