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Five ways to make 2010 a banner business year

Five ways to make 2010 a banner business year

Linda Griffin | SmallBizLink

Ahh, yes, it’s January again. I always feel that December flies by in a mad dash. It seems that as soon as I sit down to Thanksgiving dinner, I get up and it’s New Year’s Eve! After the rush and excitement of the holidays, I like to take time in the first few weeks of January to re-group. I plan where and how I want to spend my energy and time in the new year. Here are five business areas and suggested activities that will have a major impact on achieving your business goals in 2010.

1). Expand your network of prospects and clients

Review your networking activities from 2009. Did they give you an appropriate payback for the time you invested? Before you eliminate them, determine why they weren’t successful and take corrective action.

Create a marketing plan to attract new prospects and clients. It should cover the entire year and include social media, print and direct mail advertising, holiday campaigns, article marketing, contests, etc.

Get recognized as the expert. Offer to share your knowledge by speaking at local events, clubs and networking groups.

2). Increase your Profitability

Look for lower cost or no cost options for any of the products and services you use. Free and low cost applications have many of the same features as higher priced name brands.

Track everything from the cost of maintaining your web site to the return on investment of your latest marketing program. Create a budget and cash flow analysis so that you know what revenue is coming in each month and what expenses are flowing out.

Take advantage of free listings in online directories such as Google and Yahoo marketplace. Many local newspapers maintain an online business directory.

Be frugal with your time. Don’t waste the day away on email, internet surfing and facebook. Limit the amount of time you spend on non-revenue producing activities.

3). Turn customers into raving fans

Thank your best customers with special deals and exclusive services and ask them for referrals.

Figure out what your customers want. Develop a customer feedback system and really use it to make your products better

Add at least one new product or service this year. Study your competition and find one thing that you can do better or one problem that they aren’t addressing and solve it.

4). Embrace life-long learning

Read at least four business books this year and subscribe to at least 2 monthly business magazines. Read them for ideas and inspiration.

Pick one new skill that you want to get better at this year and invest in a personal development class or conference.

Join a mastermind group or hire a coach. They will provide support, someone to bounce ideas off of, and someone to encourage you and hold you accountable.

And finally,

5). Have fun.

Enjoy the work itself. I hope that’s one of the reasons you started your own business.

Take an annual vacation or multiple shorter ones. The mental and physical break will re-energize you.

Take a lunch break every day. Use the time to get away from your office to meet friends, to read for pleasure, to enjoy the weather or take a nap. You will be more productive when you get back to your desk.