Welcome to this week’s Premier Business Operations newsletter…

I hope that you had a wonderful Christmas day shared with family and friends.  Hopefully, by now all of the wrapping paper, ribbons, gift bags have been cleaned up and your homes are back to normal.  From everything I’ve been reading it has been a good season for many retailers, so hopefully the economy is starting to look up for many of us.   Before I get into this week’s newsletter, I just wanted to remind readers that previous editions can be found online at https://premierbusinessoperations.wordpress.com/ or alternatively by going to the Premier Business Operations website:  www.premier-business-operations.com.

Since we’re coming to the close of the year, I thought this would be a great opportunity to list my ten resolutions for small business owners or entrepreneurs…

  1. Do a little less flying by the seat of your pants.  While it’s impossible for the small business owner to spend an inordinate amount of time examining reams of customer survey data, a good start would be to understand who your most profitable and best customers are Take the time to list out a few of their characteristics, maybe validate it with a confidant and then examine other opportunities with those same customers, i.e. a related product offer (think of hats or jackets for a t-shirt shop) or maybe a service (pickup and delivery service for dry cleaning).
  2. Find ways to save more money.  As we’ve mentioned in previous newsletters, cash is king, especially for small business owners.  Take a hard look at the cost of items such as delivery charges, banking fees, office supplies, etc.  Given the state of the economy, there is more competition for these providers and others.  Just because you’ve used the same bank or insurance company for the past 5 years doesn’t mean that you’re getting preferred pricing from them.  Shop around.  Saving even 5% of these types of necessary costs can make the difference being able to afford a new advertising campaign or not.
  3. Keep selling!!!  As a small business owner, you probably don’t have the bandwidth to chase every opportunity or niche.  Focus on your repeat customers and those that yield the highest profit margin.  For entrepreneurs just getting started, you need to laser focus your attention to the goals of your business plan (product, market, targeted customer segments, etc.).
  4. Don’t ignore your people.  For those of you with a small staff of employees, make sure that you’re getting the most out of them.  By that, I don’t just mean that they’re in the office or shop for their 40 hours.  What I really mean is that many of the best ideas to grow or improve your business may come from your current employees.  After all, they already understand your business, most likely your customers and market.  And in some cases, even your suppliers.  Take a few moments over a lunch or coffee to pick their brains for what went well or what may be an idea worth pursuing – you may be surprised.  Remember your most valuable resource may be your employees.
  5. Never lose sight of the cash.  This related to #2 above but it probably cannot be overemphasized for the small business owner where cash is the lifeblood of the operation and the key to early success and positioned to grow Besides the previously mentioned ideas, other opportunities for increasing cash flow come in the form or managing your inventory or negotiating preferred payment terms with suppliers.  That stock of extra t-shirts (maybe you ordered too many) stored in warehouse aren’t doing your business any good.  Identify other sales channels to sell them such as Craig’s list, Ebay, etc.  You may not get the same margins as before, but you’re boosting your cash flow by getting them sold.
  6. Understand your customers.  With the end of the year upon us, this is a perfect opportunity to dig deeply into your primary “top 10 accounts”.  Whether these accounts are problem children or have been big winners, take the time to call on these customers to better understand what needs have gone unmet or where new opportunities may lie.
  7. Freshen up your marketing and advertising.  It doesn’t take long for your advertising to lose its luster, especially in this ever changing world with competition always on the prowl.  Everything from your product messaging to the use of different types of media should be critiqued.  Good time to review your most frequently used advertising as well, your website.
  8. Time to rejuvenate your products.  Depending on the type of business, this may be as simple as a product in a new color or texture.  Maybe a new flavor milkshake is needed to spice up the menu.  With the next big selling holiday coming Valentine’s Day, time to kick your ideas into high gear.  Remember your competition is…
  9. Good time to examine your product pricing.  Products which are good sellers at solid margins may be able to absorb a modest price increase and not lose customers.  Conversely all companies have dogs that don’t sell well.  Time to reduce those prices, grab what cash is there and cut your losses, moving on to a replacement product.
  10. Me time.  For many companies, the time between Christmas and New Years Day may be slow time.  This is a great time to unplug, reconnect with family, friends and loved ones and simply rejuvenate yourself.

While Premier Business Operations probably can’t help you with #10, we are poised to provide the necessary assistance to the small business owner for all of the other areas that you may need to kick-start your business, stay competitive or beat your competition.  To find out more about Premier Business Operations can help, please visit our website at www.premier-business-operations.com or contact us at information@premier-business-operations.com

Have a great week…  and don’t forget those resolutions…