Let’s discuss the top five things to do to kick off a successful 2013 for your business.

1. Thank your clients and employees for 2012 and share with them your vision for 2013.
Thanking your employees does not have to be a hardship but rather a treat for you and for them. The key is sincerity. Send a hand written card of thanks to each employee for their contribution to last year’s success. Have lunch delivered to them such as pizza or subs, again with a note of thanks. If you can personally show up for the lunch that would be great; if not, send a video message. In your message, share your vision for the New Year and how they can contribute to the bottom line. Have at least 3-5 items that each employee could visualize doing during the year to help the business succeed. Also determine the best way to say thanks to your clients. Ideas could range from personal visits or telephone calls, email blast, video message on your website. Thank them for giving your business the opportunity to serve them and you look forward to doing so again this year.

2. What to do differently this year?
Analyze your products and services and determine those to keep that are making money and either change or adjust those that are not. Are your products and services really meeting your client’s needs? Identify how to capture a larger share of the wallet of your existing clients. How do you do these things? One way is to engage your employees, especially those on the front lines that listen and interact with your clients. Gain the feedback and then do the same with a sample of your clients. Compare the data and select a few employees to serve on a task force to create 2-3 action steps to improve, enhance, and change your products and services or the mix of each. Try the adjustments out and return to the employees and clients to gain insight on the results.

3. Meet with your tax advisor, your CPA and your attorney to help you navigate the new waters of 2013.
New taxes and regulations are being implemented as well as new health care. You will need to make sure that you are in discussions with these experts to see how to navigate successfully. This will take extra planning on the behalf of all businesses, no matter your size.

4. Enhance the sales culture of your business.
Analyze your current sales approach and determine which components are effective and those that are not and adjust accordingly. Effective sales cultures have their folks spending 85% of time on future thinking. This is an interesting question to pose to your employees and I bet you will find that only a small percentage is spent on this topic. Most employees will be spending time being reactive and in the present rather than thinking how to make things more effective and efficient in the future. Next month we will talk more on this topic along with marketing ideas.

5. Succession Planning.
What happens if you and other key executives/managers leave, become ill, have an accident, or die? Identify an option of next in line or a designee that would step into these shoes. Begin coaching and preparing them for such an event. Maintain an updated job description for each key position so you are ready to release it such you need to replace them from the outside. For those family owned and managed businesses, sometimes this is a given and succession is already in the works; sometimes it is not. Find out early if your children and/or family members are interested in the business, never make an assumption. You need to design your exit strategy as well. What will happen when you decide to leave the business? Does it have value to someone else or has it been a business to maintain your lifestyle? Do you have items of value that could be purchased by someone else to implement into their business?

Work on these five topics now and throughout the year as they will help you achieve success for 2013 and beyond. Enjoy!