As we approach the end of 2011, it is a good idea for small business owners to take stock of what you’ve accomplished and look forward to some fresh initiatives in the New Year. The following are some ideas to make a successful transition to 2012:
1. Expand the ways that you communicate with customers. Dive into mobile marketing, location-based promotions, blogging and a dynamic social media presence.
2. Stop trying to force your product onto a customer if it is not a good fit. Show your customers you are able to come up with solutions that add value to their business problems.
3. Brainstorm with employees on how everyone can work smarter. Take stock of how much daily time is spent on e-mail; whether you are holding too many unproductive meetings and how to take internal communications to a level that spurs employees to take action.
4. Spend some time on self-reflection and figure out what kind of a boss you are. Do you over-direct, micromanage, enable helplessness, inspire or teach? It may not be easy, but making sure you are a good match for your own business goals is an often-overlooked issue for many managers.
5. Invest in additional training and career-growth activities for your employees. For example, subsidize memberships in industry organizations; bring in a leadership coach; offer reimbursement for career-enhancing certifications; etc.
6. Take real action related to a social cause. Sponsor a fundraiser, write an Op-Ed or go on an overseas mission. You’ll find it not only makes you feel better, but it is highly appealing to the best and brightest young people you may want to recruit to work for you.
7. Walk the floor more. Even with an open-door policy, managers who stay in their offices create a very different work atmosphere than those who get out and spend time among the staff. Take the time to discover something about the personal interests or personalities of the people who work for you. You just might discover some untapped gems.
8. Redefine your strategic goals after meeting with employees, company advisors and partners to get their input. New goals could include expanding into a new market, merging with a competitor or rebranding your company.
9. Conduct a survey of employees to gauge their level of satisfaction with opportunities for training and advancement, compensation/ benefits and work/life balance.
10. Don’t forget to have some fun: Celebrate the holidays with your staff, even if it’s at the office. If possible, close down from Christmas to New Year’s. Encourage all employees to make end-of-year vacation plans – and remember that “all employees” includes you!