Prepare now for a better economy


By HAZEL BECK

Stephens Media

As a business owner, you can feel it. This year feels different — more interest in your product or service, an increase in sales, you are entertaining thoughts of hiring and you have an increase in customer traffic — all signs of a recovering economy.

How can you capitalize on the opportunities that will present themselves? As the business climate continues to improve, here are suggestions for repositioning your business for success:

It starts with you.

l Check your life goals. Have they shifted during the Great Recession — or are you still on track? It may be time to revise your goals or create new ones.

l Reconnect with your dreams. It is easy to lose sight of your dreams in life. The pressures of life, business and relationships can get in the way of fulfilling your dreams and ambitions. New strategies and direction, as well as product enhancement or service offerings, spring from dreams and creative time. Take time to dream, even if you have to schedule it in.

l Is your business still addressing your needs? It’s time to complete a cash flow projection for the next 12 months. Project your monthly revenue and expenses. Is your company generating enough profit to support your financial goals and responsibilities?

Has the amount of time you have available to devote to the business changed? You may have a young family, a new life partner or an aging parent who is impacting the number of hours that you are willing to invest in your business.

Does your business still feel fresh to you? Or is it time to move onto your next dream?

l Assess your attitude and energy level. Are you still passionate about what you do? The last five years have been difficult for some businesses. Are you able to check your recession baggage and approach your business with the right attitude? Your attitude is contagious and will inspire or infect your employees and customers. Your attitude also sets the tone for your company’s culture.

The business may have grown to a level that demands a higher energy level than you are currently operating on. Perhaps it’s time to bring in an operations manager. This would free you from the tactical, daily operations involvement with the business. It would allow you to refocus your energy on monitoring the strategic side of the business and could include reducing yourself to part-time status. If you weren’t involved in daily operations, what other areas could you focus on and what would those impacts be on your bottom-line?

5. Recommit to the business — or exit. After you have had the frank discussion with the woman or the man in the mirror, it is time for a commitment to continue with your business. Reconnect with the reason that compelled you to start your

company in the first place. Understand and appreciate that your business is the vehicle for achieving your life goals. Let your employees know of your commitment — to them and to the business — by your example and leadership.

Business plan review

Congratulations. You’ve made the commitment to continue in your business. Time to update your business plan. Here are a few areas of focus:

—Take a look at your product or service offerings. Can you freshen them or make them more relevant?

—What does your post-recession marketplace look like? Competitors may have exited or new competitors may have entered your marketplace. Is your pricing still current? Is there an opportunity to price with confidence and regain the ground you may have lost through discounting over the last few years?

— Is your industry expanding or contracting? Identify any strategic opportunities and develop a plan to capitalize on them.

— Keep your eye on the short-term, but focus again on your long-term strategy — one-, three- and five-year planning horizons. Review your 3-4 key goals under each of the time horizons for relevancy.

—If your business plan is so outdated, start again. It may be easier for you to hit the mental restart button. Contact your local SBDC for assistance in developing your business plan.

Hazel Beck manages the West Hawaii office of the Hawaii Small Business Development Center. She can be reached at hazel.beck@hisbdc.org or 327-3680. The Hawaii SBDC is a program of the University of Hawaii at Hilo, funded, in part, through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. Email editorialstaff@hisbdc.org.

 

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