It’s 2012: Let’s Roll Up Our Sleeves and Get to Work

Happy New Year, everyone!

I want to welcome you and your business to 2012.

Unfortunately, in business we can’t just say, “Well, it’s a New Year. All from last year is forgotten. Here’s a totally fresh start. Yeehaw.” (Presumably, the yeehaw would have an exclamation point at the end, but that’s somewhat challenging in this fantasy statement since it can’t really happen.)

Despite the inevitability of continuity, some things from 2011 can be halted and considered “past problems” in some sense. For instance, though there are exceptions, by and large, the tax year of 2011 is now over. You may have concerns about what happened and spend the next four months dealing with them, but they’ve happened. You can’t change what happened – only handle it. There’s something relieving about that.

Also, it’s a new quarter. If you took a loss last quarter – or last year – that loss is definitely going to affect you and your business. There’s no getting around that. But it’s a fresh quarter and a fresh year, and that means a chance to make some changes, some positive impressions and, hopefully, some money. That is what you’re in the business of doing, right?

With the Holidays over, December – also known as the Month of Distractions – is behind us. People will return to their regular schedules. Children will go back to school (soon). If you’re in retail and prepare all year for December, only to hold onto your hat while it barrels you over, then normalcy has returned.

That all means that the New Year can be a time for fresh starts, new ideas and inspiration. I’m not one for the New Year’s Resolution Bandwagon (it’s fraught with problems, not the least of which is a total lack of stick-to-it-iveness), but there is something to be gained by using our culture’s mental break between years in order to be an inspirational leader who motivates one’s team and company to rally around strengths and successes and have a great year. If last year was a tough one for your company – as it was for many companies – you’re going to need to be that kind of leader today, this week, this month, this quarter and this year.

Business isn’t easy. If it were, everyone would be doing it. It takes hard work, dedication and a dash of luck. Whether 2011 was the best year ever or the worst on record, take the first work day of the New Year as a time to get back to business and refocus your company and your team. As a turnaround manager, it’s my job to roll up my sleeves, get down in the trenches and get dirty. If all business leaders did that, I wouldn’t have to. My advice to you is to do just that: roll up your sleeves and get to work.

If you are stuck and aren’t sure what to do and how to handle your business, your team, your finances and your general situation, then I want you to start by reviewing my five articles that ended 2011 about Resolutions for Your Business in 2012. Each of them is just as relevant in its own way right now as it was in 2011. These are ways to think about your business and get started in the New Year – an important balance of continuity with the past and innovation for the future.

Ensure continuity and preserve a feeling of consistency for your business and personnel.

Think about a contingency plan in case of an emergency.

Sit down and review your business’ financial documents.

Analyze not just your business, but also your business environment.

Engage your team in short- and long-term planning, and don’t be afraid to innovate.

What are you going to do differently in 2012? How are you going to manage and grow your business? Please share in the comments below.

5 New Year’s Resolutions for Your Business in 2012, Part 5

My final New Year’s Resolution is one that can span both 2011 and 2012, as you no doubt have a lot of planning to do.

Engage your team in short- and long-term planning, and don’t be afraid to innovate.

The corollary to the first New Years Resolution we discussed – ensuring continuity – is engaging in short- and long-term planning. Start thinking 3, 6 and 12 months out for short term planning and 2, 3 and 5 years out for longer term planning.

Though it may seem like the final week of the year is a bad time to start doing your planning for the coming year, no time is a bad time to plan if you haven’t done any planning yet.

This is also your last week to do any quick tax planning that may help you for the coming year. Are there any big purchases you’re going to have to make in the next 30 days that you could make now to enhance your tax situation? Talk to your accountant and financial planner if you haven’t already. Make sure they know what you’re doing, where you’re headed and what your goals are. It’s the only way they can help you plan.

To make sure you know where you and your business are going as you enter the New Year, consider sitting down to a series of meetings with your key team members. If you won’t have time for that before the New Year, then take any break time you get to sit down and think through what you want and where you’re trying to take your business.

Start by figuring out what your goals are.

Is your goal this coming year increased revenue? By what percentage? Would you rather figure out how to increase profits without worrying about revenue? Perhaps there are a few KPIs in your business that could stand improvement? Maybe you’re just looking to survive. Do you want to acquire a competitor this year or make your company enticing in a buy-out?

Whatever your goals, you have to know them in order to do your planning. Map them out over the course of the year and start considering how you’re going to achieve them. Who’s involved? Sales, marketing, fulfillment, accounting? All of the above or none of them? As you consider who’s involved and how you want to achieve your goals, you should be starting to see a sketch of your plan for the coming months and year. Is what you’re developing in line with your even longer term goals?

Consider your plan and then start presenting it to your team members. Though business is not a democracy and you do not need to ask for others’ permission (pending you’re the CEO or key manager – and this exercise can work for managers as well as CEOs), it will behoove you and your business if you get buy in from key stakeholders and team members. That gets them on board, aligned and motivated. Ask for their help, input and concerns. This will help you plan even better.

Once you’ve set up your plan, consider reviewing it with your budgetary committee to make sure that you won’t hit any unfortunate pitfalls along the way. One tool I consider very helpful in short- and long-term planing is the whiteboard. Consider employing one along the way.

Don’t just enter the New Year blind. Resolve to plan with your team and make this year a calculated and successful one.

Good luck!