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Published 08 February 2012 13:31, Updated 09 February 2012 05:03
Even though it is the fourth time he has attempted it, Carlo Santoro is determined 2012 will be the year his resolution sticks.
The founder and managing director of RetailCare , which provides technological support to retailers, has vowed to implement a system developed by American author Verne Harnish that helps companies structure time effectively.
“It’s about designing a rhythm through consistent daily tasks and time checks,” Santoro says.
From stand-up meetings at 9.13am every morning, to automatic reminders for all staff at 4pm to plan their tasks for the following day, to quarterly, monthly and weekly planning sessions, the program is designed to help businesses reach objectives methodically.
There is no time like the start of a year to take more control of your destiny and many entrepreneurs running small businesses use the tick over into 2012 as a catalyst for big changes in how they do things.
“The commitment is really hard,” Santoro says of the Harnish discipline he’s imposed upon himself and his team.
“It’s so easy to come to work and have a coffee for a bit longer, miss a meeting because someone is away sick and use it as an excuse,” he says.
“Even a driven person can fall into those traps.”
It’s the reason his first three attempts at Harnish’s celebrated system failed but so far, the latest effort (which began in November) is holding.
Consultant and managing director of Empower Business SolutionsGreg Chapman says by communicating the objective to himself and his team, Santoro has given all involved a solid chance of achieving it.
“People are afraid to write things down because then it is a commitment and others can hold you to account,” Chapman says.
“By not writing it down or communicating it, you avoid having to reconcile not achieving it at the end of the year.”
The other disincentive for setting new year’s resolutions, or specific goals for your business, is believing it will be complicated and time-consuming.
“It doesn’t take a lot of time,” Chapman says. “Small business owners don’t have lots of time and might put it off because they think it’s a huge exercise.”
Chapman says sitting down for an hour is enough to make a difference.
“The initial step is to start with a list of measures of where they were in 2011 and ask where they want those [measures]to be in 2012 and what they want to be different,” Chapman says.
“If their target is to increase sales by, say, 20 per cent, they can then build a strategy around it by thinking about what they will change.”
Neglecting to go through that process limits the potential success of your business. “If you have no vision you’re basically putting yourself in the hands of fate,” Chapman says.
The co-founder and general manager of web strategy consultancy Bluewire Media, Toby Jenkins, says he and his business partner, Adam Franklin, have two specific resolutions for 2012.
“One is sharing more content that people find useful in their own businesses,” Jenkins says. “The primary reason is the more we share the more we get back in terms of business and referrals.”
To meet this goal, the Bluewire team plans to publish a book, host and speak at more events and share free tools online. “The more useful we can be, the more likely we are to get work and be referred,” Jenkins says.
“Our other resolution is to deliver six to 10 times the value of our price to clients for work that we do.”
To ensure it’s more than a platitude, Jenkins says Bluewire is upfront with clients about its lofty goal.
“That way the onus is on us to uncover and measure our value,” Jenkins.
“We need to make sure our clients can build a business case around our services. When it’s an internal project which they need to get across the line, they need to be able to show that value.”
Internally Jenkins says the real value of clear targets is that they focus minds.
“It reduces the amount of thinking time and allows you to make decisions quickly and easily,” Jenkins says.
“If you understand what your goals are, when you make decisions you can quickly ask ‘will this bring more value or will we just be sharing more with people?’ And when you have a target it feels like you’re moving towards something instead of just getting things done.”
The chief executive and founder of BRW Fast 100 member The Physio Co, Tristan White , is another proponent of specific goals.
This year marks the completion of a plan he devised in 2009.
“I always had a vision of where The Physio Co would be but every time I spoke to people about it, the details would be slightly different,” White says.
“Writing it down made it crystal clear and really focused the team on why we do what we do. I think the only reason we’ve achieved significant growth is because we’re so clear.”
By the end of this year, White hopes to have provided 100,000 physiotherapy consultations, broken into BRW’s top 10 best places to work and expanded his team to 50 people.
“This year is about putting the finishing touches on my three-year vision with some very specific details,” White says. “I also need to draft the plan for 2015.”
The managing director of body-shaping equipment provider Hypoxi Australia, Ariana Hendry , plotted her resolutions for 2012 in November.
“January is often chaotic, with people getting back into the swing of things and there’s no time to stop and think properly,” Hendry says.
“I do my resolutions while we’re winding down before Christmas.”
Hendry’s list of targets for 2012 include reaching out to men, improving internal processes and experimenting with marketing techniques.
“Women are far more open to admit they seek out fitness and beauty solutions but men are increasingly becoming more image and health conscious and we want to educate them this is a service they can use, too,” she says.
“There is technology to improve almost every conceivable process and we’re looking to explore that further after successfully implementing a new reporting system.”