Monday, December 29, 2003

New Year's Resolutions for Entrepreneurs

Business Times p.B2
Monday, December 29, 2003

By Moje Ramos-Aquino
New Year’s resolutions for entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs and their organizations can benefit from committing to New Year’s resolutions. Here are some suggestions inspired by the book If I really Wanted to Simplify My Life I Would (Lighthouse Books, 2000). This column will come in two installments: today and January 9, which coincides with the start of the Management page’s transfer to Fridays.

Recharge. Spending this week in Bagalangit, Mabini, Batangas, is my most relaxing Christmas ever. That’s because I bought my Christmas gifts for clients, friends and relatives at every opportunity I had all throughout the year. Come December, I only needed to buy a few additional pieces and sent them out early in the month. By the week of Christmas, my hands were free.

I also kept out of parties where my absence would not be noticeable. That gave me time to recharge, enjoy Christmas with my family and get ready for next year’s business.

Encourage your employees to do the same. No need to work them to exhaustion. You and they are more productive when rested and relaxed. When you can appreciate the beauty of the rising and setting sun, you can appreciate life and business better.

Revisit your strategy. Are you happy where and how your business is going? A strategy, no matter how strategic, is not written in stone. You may reword, revise, refit, even change it altogether. Create your own identity. But give it chance to bloom first. If after doing everything, nothing happens, then it is time to go back to the drawing board and review your strategic plans. Don’t change your strategic intent at a whim, though.

Implement your strategy. Stop just trying to keep up with competition. Plan your implementation and act on your strategy. Do keep up with the needs of your clients. Involve your employees in planning, particularly those who will eventually do the job. Set up realistic goals. Determine performance measures and milestones.

Reward your top performers. Set up a system for recognizing and rewarding your top performers. Reward them generously. You’ll get it back with their loyalty and higher productivity.

In the same breath, say goodbye to your slackers. You can’t afford deadwoods and those who simply mark time. Business is not usual. Give them early retirement. Maintain their self-esteem and friendship.

Clean and clear up. Keep a live and up-to-the-minute inventory of your materials, supplies, equipment, etc. An old computer will only slow your business down and will cost you a lot in maintenance and lost man-hours due to machine downtime.

A friend of mine discovered to her horror that she had expensive goods that must have been sat in her warehouse for at least five years. There are no more buyers for such equipment parts because her client had changed machineries some time ago.

The saying “Cleanliness is next to Godliness” is true in personal life and in business. Do general housekeeping regularly and get rid of unnecessary materials, supplies or equipment you might have. Keeping them will not save you anything because they only take up expensive office space.

Set yourself free with the truth. Speak the truth and nothing but. Maintain only one truthful book of accounts. Remember Enron. Remember the Law of Karma.

Truth establishes the integrity of your business as well as your personal integrity. It makes for lasting business relationships with your clients, creditors and employees.

Get regular organizational check-ups. Have regular meetings with your staff to assess not only your bottom line but also how well your organization is functioning in terms of your strategy, businesses systems and processes, leadership style, structure, teamwork and the general culture of your organization.

If you have more than fifty employees, hire professionals to do a climate survey for you. It will be worth your investment. You may also want to do a customer satisfaction survey. Likewise, it will be wise to keep a running dialog with your own suppliers.

Choose employees who do not need much supervision. Attract employees who are more intelligent than you, more organized than you, more innovative than you, etc.

Hire them, give them a good job orientation, pay them the higher-than-industry average or your nearest competition’s compensation, give them the requisite tools and supplies, train and develop them, talk to them not only about business but also about everything else, get to know more about them especially where they tickle, give them challenging tasks, reward them for good performance.

Presto, your business is in good hands and you can play golf as much as you want.

Put things back where they belong. There is this admonition posted at the WWF Staff House in Batangas: Don’t take anything and don’t leave anything behind you.

That’s a good rule to adapt in business, too. If they are not consumable, put things back where you got them. Confusion in the work area arises when things are misplaced and cannot be located when needed. Plan your workplace, every single part of it including people, furniture, files, fixtures, equipment, tools, supplies and others. Plan space and ambiance for productive interactions with clients and among employees.

Keep photocopies of important documents and keep the original in a safe place. Most companies you deal with--government regulatory bodies, customers, creditors, even suppliers--would invariably ask for your business papers. Be prepared with extra hard copies or electronic copies of your SEC or DTI registration, city or municipal mayor’s permit, income tax return, community tax receipt, and others.

Do the same for your personal driver’s license, credit cards, SSS & BIR IDs, and passport. In case you lose them, it is easier to get a replacement if you have the duplicate copy.

Trust God. Nothing is done without His permission. Helen Armstrong wrote, “Coincidence is the pseudonym God uses when He doesn’t want to sign His name.”

Let’s celebrate and enjoy the New Year festivities safely in the love of our family and friends.

(Moje Ramos-Aquino believes in honoring and keeping Christmas in her heart for everybody all days of her life. Her email address is

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