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What’s your New Year’s business resolution?

We asked a variety of SME owners to tell us what they’ve learnt about their business this year and to share their resolutions for 2012. There’s some great food for thought for everyone here.

Kelly Baker, MD, Edible Blooms

“My New Year resolution for 2012 is to travel less and use technology, like Skype and FaceTime on my iPhone, more often for meetings. In 2011 I became a new mum and while my little boy loves to fly, it’s a much bigger effort to travel for business as a mum. I am fortunate to work remotely from our farm at Victor Harbor whilst running a national business and I look forward to spending more time here. It’s all about stopping to smell the roses!”

Kellie Byrnes, CEO, Kindred Gifts

“After an incredibly hectic 2011, with hardly any holiday or down time, my goal for 2012 is to incorporate a ’10 Minute Stop’ routine into my day. Ten minutes to get away from the desk and stretch; ten minutes to go outside and sit in the sun or play with the dogs; ten minutes to go for a quick walk; ten minutes to think about what I’m grateful for that day; ten minutes to simply breathe… anything that gets me to slow down and catch up to myself! My day goes by so quickly and I’m always busy, but I’ve realised that I need to make myself stop, at least once every day, so that I don’t burn out. No matter how busy I am, I know that I can fit in ten minutes to look after myself – and I should.”

Dr Lior Rauchberger, Director, Nuvo Solutions

“This year I learnt that the right organisational structure is critical for success. It’s easy to go with the status quo once you have a team in place, but it’s so important to have the right people in the right boxes. In the end, if you know that certain people would be better suited to a role, you have to make the hard calls and ruffle a few feathers. We went through significant restructuring this year and are already benefiting from the changes.

Next year we want to leverage some of our existing clients. We have an excellent client network and a diverse service range, so we will focus on following up with all our clients to see what else we can offer them.”

Cafe2U franchisee Tony Kernke

“Cafe2U Geebung is owned and operated by my wife Allison and I. 2011 has been a hectic year, our first full calendar year in business, outgrowing our expectations by forging great relationships with our customers. We started the year with a sound base of stops and regular customers. Both the number of stops and customers at each stop were needed to be increase to ensure our business growth.”

“Our plan for growth was ensure the high quality of product and services we have been supplying and improve our digital footprint to ensure future customers can find us and existing customers can have more contact with our business. Our digital footprint was increased by revamping our partner page on the Cafe2U website and ensuring this page was kept up to date. Further to this we started a social media program with a Twitter account, a Facebook account and finally a LinkedIn account.”

Pam Brossman, CEO, Social Media Woman

“I have three resolutions that I will be implementing very early in the New Year:

1. Upskill my knowledge on all things mobile and digital including Kindle marketing, mobile marketing and digital information product creation and marketing.

2. Revamping my new website to accommodate the growing demand for digital online and offline courses. Allowing me to better educate women business owners on how to embrace these changes by learning how to capitalise on this new form of digital communication and eCommerce to reach their target market.

3. Rework my business model to capitalise on the digital marketplace for my own business products, mastermind coaching and marketing.”

We asked a variety of SME owners to tell us what they’ve learnt about their business this year and to share their resolutions for 2012. There’s some great food for thought for everyone here.

Lauren Staley, director, infolio

“My three resolutions for 2012:

• Make informed decisions in relation to staff, hire slow and fire fast!

• Continue implementing and refining staff training procedures to ensure the team is the best they can be

• Adopt a more creative and innovative approach when looking at additional services they can offer.”

Karen Morris, owner, Inscriptions Media

“In 2011, my mistakes were being too available to clients and not setting any boundaries. This doesn’t work for us or the client. We have consulted with an expert in small business systems and processes to show us the bigger picture, not just on systems and processes on the client side, but also internally so that we can all work comfortably and effectively together, and know that we all have the necessary knowledge to deal with any enquiry from clients or the media.
We excelled at developing the right direction for the business in terms of our specialty area, types of clients that are the right fit for our team and pursuing those clients.

Our New Year’s resolution is to respect our expertise and time by implementing religiously our new systems and procedures that will help us work with our clients efficiently, effectively and with great results. Also, to continue to educate clients about PR and what it is, and is not, so that we can continue to develop strong, long-lasting relationships that are beneficial to our clients.”

Louise Donelly-Davey, Director, Eep media & marketing

“To stay connected. No man (or woman) is an Island. Maintain, nurture and build relationships that are mutually beneficial. Collaboration is key!”

Jan Vydra, company director, Australian Fresh Leaf Herbs and Australian Young Farmer of the Year

“We have always had a focus on business ethics, and in 2011 it paid off. We pledged never to over sell or under deliver when dealing with suppliers and customers, which can be difficult with seasonal produce. This year I learnt that when you support your customers’ needs in the winter time, they stick by you in the summer time.

In 2012, we want to focus more on social responsibility, not just in Australia but across the globe. The international food supply chain is broken; it leaves one in seven people hungry. We have plans to use our expertise in agriculture and our new intellectual property to help stop the hunger crisis.”

We asked a variety of SME owners to tell us what they’ve learnt about their business this year and to share their resolutions for 2012. There’s some great food for thought for everyone here.

Christine Khor, Director, Carrera Partners

“I’ve learnt a lot about the business during the last three years since the GFC. It’s called flexibility and cashflow! I’ve learnt that we have to be flexible in responding to market changes; in meeting the demands and needs of our clients and candidates. And that the way we’ve done things or what has worked before has not been the case this time around. The market instability forced us to look at how we do things as we grappled with trying to guess (ideally forecast) how market conditions would impact our business, and try to figure out what was going to happen in the next six-to-12 months.

Next year is all about clarity, purpose and putting the fun back in to our day. It’s about action; implementing plans and being accountable. Small business can be hard work, but it can also be very rewarding. I will take the lessons learnt and look forward to a great year.”

Bob Lowres, Managing Director, Relcorp Ltd, building the Naisoso Island project in Fiji.

“Having had a health scare in 2011 this highlighted the importance of looking after myself from 2012 onwards. Having recovered from the health problem I have now embarked upon a regime of exercise and eating better food. That is not to say that I am perfect but I certainly am in a far better state of health which of course means that I am also far more mentally alert and active, which is a positive for my business. The health scare also enabled me to put into priority the balance of business and personal life which I think was a blessing in disguise. In 2012 I will continue to exercise, eat well and enjoy the balance of business and family.”

Shelli Trung, founder, 3six5dates

“The big lesson we have learnt in this year? Effort does not equal results! We realised we needed to get better at focusing on the 20 percent that delivers 80 percent of the results. We now concentrate on achieving three large project outcomes per quarter, instead of trying to launch 10 new initiatives.

The New Year looks promising with media and business partnership opportunities sprouting from all our key international cities. We expect our reality dating blogs to be turned into comic strips, animated, gamified as an app and eventually the big one – the movie deal. Bring on 2012!”

Catriona Pollard, MD, CP Communications

“My resolution is to embrace change. Change is inevitable but it can be scary as well. It seems if you stop to take a breath and you’ll be left behind. As a small business it is somewhat easier to adapt to change, however that isn’t to say change is any less challenging. I’ve decided to go with the flow when it comes to change. Set goals and aim to achieve them even if change is occurring around me. For example, if we do have a looming financial crisis, keep moving forward without spending time worrying about what can happen. If there is a client I want to work with, but not enough staff, trust that staff will come or deal with it when we get the client! It may seem small but the only way to embrace change is by creating it yourself so why not have some fun while you’re at it?”

Jaclyn and Christian Bold, founders, Bold Traders

“Bold Trailers launched in July 2011 at the Sydney International Boat Show. The rapid effects of sales and customers was felt immediately, so greatly that we go so lost in keeping the customer happy that we under-charged, under-quoted and did not make the profits that we needed to make. This then left us with unsatisfactory cashflow.

We have learnt not to quote on the spot, to give customers the worst case scenario price (this is explained to them), and to find a new accountant that is assisting us to price our products better. We are also producing a thorough job card, implementing a store into the workshop for greater supply of parts and looking for more suppliers to facilitate rapid turnaround times for our customers.

We have learnt the hard way about finding and keeping the best staff and 2012 will see us focusing on inproving our productivity. We aim to do this by working with apprenticeship groups, keeping detailed daily log books and time sheets and guiding our staff on appropriate time frames to complete tasks. We also hope to increase productivity by rewarding our staff for jobs well done.”

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Jen Bishop

Jen Bishop

Jen was the publisher at Loyalty Media and editor of Dynamic Business, Australia's largest circulating small business magazine, from 2008 until 2012. She is now a full-time blogger at The Interiors Addict.

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