As this year comes to a close, many of us are preparing for a modest 2012. I was thrilled to stumble upon an article written by Jim Blasingame with timely and useful suggestions and ideas.
Blasingame is one of the world’s leading small business expects and founder of the Small Business Advocate website — www.SmallBusinessAdvocate.com — an author and syndicated columnist. He was gracious enough to allow us to share his "just-in-time” article. In the meantime, happy holidays.
By Jim Blasingame, The Small Business Advocate, for Inside Tucson Business
One of the best ways to give your future the maximum opportunity to be successful is to make sure each new year begins with as little baggage from the past as possible. So, what grandmother used to do after a long winter, businesses need to do in December. Instead of spring cleaning, let's do some December baggage elimination.
Here are a few places to start:
• Eliminate stuff. Even if you're not a packrat like me, you've accumulated stuff you don't use anymore. If you're not using it, sell it, give it away, or throw it away.
• Digital graveyard. Don't say you don't have one. Whether it's an old PC, monitor or printer - even if it isn't broken - if it hasn't been used recently it's occupying valuable space. Sell it or call a computer recycling company.
• Retool the team. The only thing worse than firing someone is letting an unproductive employee hold your team back for another year. The timing may seem insensitive, but it's just an unfortunate coincidence that the holiday season coincides with December cleaning. You owe your productive people the most effective organization possible, which often means you have to let the unproductive ones do that elsewhere.
• ABCDs of customers. Segregate customers into four groups, from the most profitable, the "A"s, to the least profitable, the "D"s. Worship the As, cater to the Bs, encourage the Cs and teach the Ds about self-service. Customers who demand more commitment from you than they're willing to reciprocate should be allowed to join your unproductive employees elsewhere.
• ABCDs of inventory. As with customers, categorize inventory from the most profitable, "A"s, to the least profitable, "D"s. Stock lots of As, some of the Bs, maybe a couple of the Cs, but never let a D spend one night under your roof unless a customer has already paid for it. Remember, profitable inventory management means just-in-time, not just-in-case.
• Scrub accounts receivable. Take the hit, and write off uncollectable accounts receivable this year so you can start January with a clean list. A/R write-offs that are later collected become gravy for the new year, otherwise they're tax deductions this year.
Each new year deserves to have the maximum opportunity to be successful, which means it shouldn't be saddled with the baggage of last year's obsolescence and bad decisions.
By taking these steps you'll be proving to yourself - and your banker - that you have the discipline to make critical decisions for which successful managers are known.
Write this on a rock: Don't wait for spring. Start December cleaning today.
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