Measure of success

I’ve never been fond of New Year’s resolutions. They’re too often constructed to address issues you’re either reluctant to confront or, more realistically, don’t want to deal with. Never mind the fact that they’re nearly impossible to keep and regularly forgotten by the time President’s Day rolls around.

Sure, I’ve made my share of New Year’s resolutions over the years (most of which I’ve purged from my memory). And I can recall one that I followed through with – to stop biting my nails. The rest lie in some pathetic heap of unrealized promises in the netherreaches of my mind.

In business, we also make what could be deemed New Year’s resolutions. And, much like our personal lives, affecting change isn’t easy. But tinkering with one’s company can be less drastic than trying to stop smoking or designing an extensive exercise routine to drop 50 pounds.

Here are nine easy-to-accomplish action items that any executive can add to his or her toolbox. Each will help you grow your business this year, and all are certainly are less painful than running five miles every morning at 4 a.m.

Listen to your customers Do you know what your clients want or need? If not, you probably aren’t serving them as well as you could be. Who better to help you increase sales than the people who keep you in business?

Show appreciation to an employee Don’t forget that the most important assets your have are the people who work for your business. Offer praise when they do something right and, if you notice someone either troubled or down, take interest in their problems and give a “pep talk.” You’d be surprised how far that goes toward building loyalty and spurring increased productivity.

Meet with your accountant Cash is king. Go over the books, your company budget and determine whether you’re making the most use of your company’s money.

Consult your legal representation Employment law is fluid. Consider meeting three to four times each year to ensure your company’s policies and procedures are in compliance with current law.

Development a new product or service Innovation is the lifeblood of business. If you aren’t thinking ahead, your competitors are either gaining on you or passing you by.

Upgrade your staff’s skill set A well-trained and educated workforce is a powerful tool – not just in the retention and attraction realm but also in your ability to be an industry leader.

Invest in technology Don’t spend money just to have the latest gadgets. But if there is equipment that will help improve your company’s productivity, analyze the potential return on investment to see if it is worth the cost.

Revisit your strategic plan If you don’t know where your company is headed and how you plan to get there, you’ll never get where you want to be.

Analyze your benefits package Benefits can be a valuable attraction and retention tool. Many employees are more concerned about their health care package, flextime and a matching 401(k) plan than whether they can squeeze out that last dollar in their base salary.

Dustin Klein ([email protected]) is editor of SBN.