Top 10 Habits For A Great Year

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Do you love “Top 10” lists?

I do, and I know I’m not alone. They have certainly helped David Letterman for over 30 years.

Over the holiday’s I was going through some old articles that I had read over the past couple of years and I came across this one published in the Globe and Mail in December, 2011…”Ten things entrepreneurs should do before 2012”.

So, I read it over and smiled to myself…thinking…this is great advice for everyone, every year, not just entrepreneurs in 2012!!

And, so I thought I would share my take on the top ten list of great habits.

1.  Set personal goals: Goals should not only be written down, but they should be reviewed, and not just once a year, but at least monthly. Be they financial, health, relationship goals..doesn’t matter. As many people, far wiser than I, have stated…it is not about the destination, but what the journey makes of you to reach that destination that is important. You need to set a goal, or destination, so you can begin that journey with some focus.

2.  Set business goals: See #1 above. And ditto to what the Globe and Mail said back in 2011….read Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People and pay particular attention to the difference between “Urgent” and “Important”. Many of us, myself included, still struggle with spending too much time “majoring on minor things”  that are urgent, but seldom important. Stay the course….focus your time on the important tasks that will help you achieve your goals. And make sure your goals are always SMART goals. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results Oriented with a Time Frame. e.g. I will attend 3 more networking events by the end of February.

3.  Have your employees (or other Family members) set goals: Again, see number 1 and 2 above. It is only by learning what your team’s (or family member’s) goals are that you can try to help them achieve them. You can also learn a lot about people by having them share their goals with you. And remember what Zig Ziglar said…”help enough other people get what they want and you can get everything you want”.

4.  Re-analyze expenses:This certainly applies to pretty much everyone…personal and business. Always be looking for ways to reduce your expenses. Don’t accept the status quo. For example, insurance policies coming up for renewal. Shop around….especially if you have been with the same broker for a long time. Do you have any contracts or agreements coming up for renewal? Ask for a better deal. Remember this absolute truth…you don’t ask….you don’t get.

5.  Update your prices: OK, this one might be a little trickier on the personal side. But we’ll come back to that in a minute. On the business side…know your profit margins…do you need to increase your prices and can you increase your top line without hurting your business? Can you increase your prices and include a low cost added value item to help with your profit margins? And, on the personal side…OK…the truth, I got nothing. (Not bad, we are 4 out of 5 at this point…I can take that)

6.  Re-calculate your monthly break-even: Again, this one should be equally important on both the business and personal side. You must know your monthly break-even. What do you absolutely need to bring into the business or household just to stay even? You should know that number intimately. Once you know your breakeven you can then set the goals necessary to give you want you want, both professionally and personally.

7.  Set sales targets: Here be not only realistic, but also be specific. Not I want more sales this year, or I want to earn more income this year. Set specific targets – see #1, #2 and #6 above. You cannot manage what you do not measure….so set the targets and review them on a regular basis….at least monthly. Is there anything you can do to bring additional revenue into the business or household? Do you have a skill or hobby that could provide a service which people would pay you for? e.g. Photographer, Computer Nerd, etc.

8.  Develop a simple marketing plan: Again, in your personal life and business life you must have a plan. How you are going to reach your goals….that is your marketing plan. In business, know who your most valuable clients are and then focus on attracting more of them to your organization. And personally, what do you need to do to accomplish those personal goals we set back in #1. Write it down. It doesn’t need to be carved in stone, it can be changed, but you must start with something. Remember, you don’t need to become great to start, but you do need to start to become great.

9.  Develop a cash flow forecast: As with your expenses and sales….you must know when the cash comes in and when it is going out….do you have a bill coming up that is due before you will have the money to cover it? Again, both in business and personal you must have a plan to succeed. Create a detailed cash flow forecast. Then review and tweak as needed and you will be able to successfully navigate the ups and downs of cash flow cycles.

10.  Contact your clients (and your friends and family): Absolutely, you must keep in touch with your clients, but isn’t that perhaps even more relevant to your friends and “out-of-town” relatives (I know…some of those you may not want to keep in touch with). But generally speaking those of us who have good, healthy relationships with friends and family are happier. Relationships are not easy, they are hard work…but well worth the effort.

Are you thinking of someone you have been meaning to call? Dial the number….and call them now. You will be glad you did.

I hope this helps. I know I am going to try my very best to follow my own advice and let’s see what 2015 brings to us all.

So, Happy New Year to everyone….I hope it is your best one yet.

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