Finally, it’s here. The new year that is, 2011. Unheralded and almost unnoticed by many who usually pay attention to such things. Indeed, you may be asking yourself, why wasn’t there much fanfare this year as the New Year approached? And the answer probably won’t surprise you. We’re tired. Yes, tired of the news (mostly bad) about the economy, congress, the president, our communities and our families. Rising foreclosures, bank failures, stops and starts of the markets, floods, snow, calamities… we’re just tired. However, this is not an article about last year. It is really about necessary goals for a new business brave enough to begin in this year, 2011.
What should a new business set as goals for 2011, in light of the current troubled economic times? First, it should decide that customer service and meeting targeted customer needs is a normal part of doing business. It is interesting to note that few businesses last for long even in “good” economic times, if the business and its employees neglect customer service. However, in “bad” times, no business will survive if a reputation of poor customer service begins to spread to future customers in the service area. This may not mean that a business will go under right away, but it could spell poor profits and little to no repeat business.
Another goal for a new business in 2011, is to decide on one business model and stick with it for a period of time while counting the costs of changing models in mid stream. Yes, current wisdom today screams that “flexibility” is a necessary component of the ability to stay in business. But here are some areas in which you really ought to avoid flexibility. 1) Avoid giving your employees the impression that flexibility includes being ungrateful for their input to the business on a daily basis; 2) You may also want to avoid giving your customers the feeling that your corporate ethics are flexible to such an extent that your guarantees are not able to be relied on from one sales campaign to another; and finally (for this discussion), 3) you should avoid appearing flexible when it comes to support of the local economy. With regard to element number three (3), it might be helpful to note that communities are more and more sensitive to whether a local business is a community team player. The notion that businesses are members of the community has taken quite a hit in recent years, but it is really becoming a part of the way consumers evaluate their loyalty over the long-term when it comes to whether they will give your repeat business.
A final goal, which may not seem important today, is to set regular sales targets and really track whether you are meeting them, once your sales campaign begins. The importance of sales targets cannot be overlooked for new businesses for the simple reason that a measurement of business success in the long run is going to be whether you brought in more money than you spent on the business. This after all is probably the most important of all the goals, if a new business in 2011 plans to be around in 2012.