How can a business “lose weight” in 2011? Find 5 New Year’s Resolutions for Business

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This time of year there is a lot of talk of personal New Year’s Resolutions – Lose Weight, Get in Shape, Save Money. While all these things may seem too personal, they can also be easily applied to any size or type of business. Every company should endeavor to follow through with at least one of these resolutions, if not all five, to have a prosperous 2011 and beyond.

1. Lose Weight — For a company “weight” is the heavy burden of “the way things have always been done.” This heavy burden can stagnate a company, halting innovation and growth. In this economy, competition is growing leaner and more agile, and your company can’t afford to carry around those “traditional” extra pounds. This year, resolve to encourage experimentation into your culture. In a recent Babson Executive Education survey, executives leading the highest growth firms encourage experimentation more often than the average executive. The data as suggests a link between experimentation and higher revenue performance (Harvard Business Review | http://bit.ly/eQF98L).

2. Get in Shape — For many, physical fitness improves health, energy levels, and clarity of the mind. For a company, “mental fitness” in the form of creativity improves innovation, workplace satisfaction, and productivity. Many companies have drained all the “play” out of the work environment, and took with it all the critical thinking. From Laura Seargeant Richardson, Frog Design, “A playful mind thrives on ambiguity, complexity, and improvisation—the very things needed to innovate and come up with creative solutions to the massive global challenges in economics, the environment, education, and more.” (The Four Secrets of Playtime That Foster Creative Kids | http://bit.ly/eDDbtV)

3. Save Money — For many of us, saving money and investing it is tough. For businesses, saving money is the easy part. Workforce reductions here, budget cutbacks over there, but then the savings go to shareholder/owner profits and not back into the company. Who has the manpower to create the most immediate, positive change for your company? Your shareholders/owners or your employees? Invest your savings wisely. Develop employee engagement programs: train your employees, reward your employees, and solicit ideas from them. In a recent Gallup study, only 29% of employees in the U.S. are engaged. In a TLNT article, Ron Thomas, HR Consultant, stated “Companies are made up of people and it is their ideas, performance, and their ability, coupled with the correct strategy from management, that will allow companies to get it done and drive exceptional bottom line results.” (Employee Engagement: “How Did Things Ever Get So Far Apart?” | http://bit.ly/eTm4zK)

4. Spend More Time with Family and Friends — I hate to rely on a cliché but some lessons can be learned from the good old 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of your business comes from 20 percent of your customers. Unfortunately, most companies spend in reverse to that rule—80% of the budget goes to marketing or new customer engagement, and 20% (if that much) goes towards building stronger customer loyalty. Revenue and profit can only go up if companies invest in stronger Voice of the Customer programs, improved customer service experiences, and a better balance between financial and customer loyalty objectives. According to Bruce Temkin, Customer Experience Transformist, “In 2011, it will become much more common for companies to balance loyalty metrics with financial ones. And many companies will evolve beyond fixing problems that cause dissatisfaction and start designing experiences that inspire advocates.” (8 Customer Experience Trends For 2011 | http://bit.ly/hdsqDb)

5. Get Green, Really Green — In our personal, as well as professional lives, it’s easy to wave the green banner and throw a bottle in the recycling bin, but to make the tough environmental choices is a significant commitment. Many companies have only taken baby-steps in the green movement, often times just enough to appease customer sentiment, however the greater business benefits are energy cost savings, reduction in maintenance costs and supplies, and overall increased operational efficiencies. Simple changes such as eliminating “vampire power” by turning off equipment power strips, replacing old equipment with energy efficient equipment, and permitting employees to start work outside of normal commuting hours, can dramatically reduce a company’s carbon footprint. According to Tom Bowman, of Bowman Global Change, all companies, even small businesses, “can reduce greenhouse-gas emissions rapidly and cost-effectively, and that some of the barriers to action are misunderstood. …The implications could not be clearer: There is a strong business case for slashing carbon emissions through simple, low-cost energy efficiency improvements.” (How One Small Business Cut Its Energy Use and Costs | http://bit.ly/dIyWdD)

As a business owner or executive, perhaps match one of your personal resolutions with a company resolution. Working on the same goal in and out of the office could amplify your effort and success. Spread the responsibility beyond yourself and invite your management team to also select a resolution. Form employee committees and get the whole company working towards these goals. If your company can make even the smallest progress, your business can experience significant success in 2011. Happy New Year!

Raelin Musuraca
Customer Experience Strategist, Musuraca LLC
Raelin Musuraca is versatile and energetic customer experience strategist with twenty years practicing marketing, digital strategy, and user experience. She has led multidisciplinary teams in the development of award-winning marketing and customer engagement programs.

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