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(AP Photo/David Goldman) Unlike sports teams such as the Atlanta Falcons, whose season could end Sunday in the NFC championship against the San Francisco 49ers, for businesses there is really never a last game of the year because every day and every month can quickly roll into the next.
Business Insight: New year must- dos for entrepreneurs

First Published Jan 18 2013 07:26 am • Last Updated May 05 2013 11:33 pm

Bill McBean, author of "The Facts of Business Life: What Every Successful Business Owner Knows That You Don’t," says that as the year begins, it pays to take a breather and spend some time thinking about the big picture.

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What goes into holding a 2012 business post-mortem?

The trap many owners — even successful ones — fall into is that every day is Game Day. In other words, unlike sports there is really never a last game of the year, or the first game of a new season. In business, every day and every month can quickly roll into the next, as can each year. Although sports teams have an offseason to analyze and prepare for a new season, business owners have to carve out time to analyze their business, focus on increasing sales, improve profit, and become their market’s toughest competitor. So, the post-mortem begins with the owner dedicating enough time to properly analyze performance — and to re-evaluate the market.

What’s the next step?

Recognize what should be analyzed to improve sales and profits. This is where the Seven Facts Of Business Life come in, because they form a business’s foundation. In sequential order they are if you don’t lead, no one will follow; if you don’t control it, you don’t own it; protecting company assets should be your first priority; planning is about preparing for the future, not predicting it; if you don’t market your business, you won’t have one; the market place is a war zone; and you don’t just have to know the business you’re in, you have to know business.

Why is it important to do year-end walk-through of systems and procedures?

The reality is that in order to be continually successful, business owners have to understand a basic concept, which is that processes and procedures are what operate the business, and that their employees’ job function is to operate these processes. Processes created a few years ago that helped your business gain market share and success may not be relevant or effective today. Processes that affect the customer or how the business operates behind the scenes have to be continually upgraded and improved, or new ones created, as your competitors improve and to meet your customers’ ever-rising expectations.

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How does a business review its marketing campaign?

Many struggle to effectively and efficiently communicate with current and potential customers about their products and services. In other words, you need to know your customers and where they go for information. You also need to understand which customers are the easiest to attract, which products and services bring in the most traffic, which products or services account for the most gross profit, and which products and services your competitors are ‘lazy’ at promoting. It’s this understanding that separates winners from losers in the marketplace.

Other marketing tips?

Look for new market opportunities by improving your product lineup. Be on the lookout for possible threats to your business — new competitors or changing customer demands. Become a student of your financial statements. Make sure your employees and customers are looked after the way you want them to be. And talk to your banker or your outside accountant. They know how the overall local market is performing.

Dawn House

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