Friday, January 9, 2004

An entrepreneur’s New Year’s resolution list to make 2004 more satisfying, exciting

The Manila Times Management Page and this column is now on Fridays instead of Mondays

Business Times p.B10
Friday. January 9, 2004

By Moje Ramos-Aquino
An entrepreneur’s New Year’s resolution list to make 2004 more satisfying, exciting

I say that 2003 was a good year for all of us. We have survived it and most of us are better off than when we started last January. As entrepreneurs, you can make 2004 a lot better and a more exciting and satisfying year. Here are some 2004 resolutions you might want to do:

Keep a regular schedule and only one planner. Keep one record of all your family, business and social appointments, special dates, obligations and important events. This will save you untold headaches and embarrassments and keep you out of conflict’s way.

Plan for tomorrow before you leave your office. Leave nothing hanging and sleep soundly.

Plan for, at least, one hour a day that you could spend alone quietly in your office or at home. Time to sort out your thoughts and emotions in complete silence.

Use checklists. Make a list of what to do, who to call, where to go, what to buy and others. Prioritize your list. Checklists are very useful and helpful. They free your mind of routine and clutter and give you more space for more important brain activities like ideating, problem solving and decision making.

Learn from the experts. Watch CNBC, Bloomberg and TechTV channels. While you’re at it, watch also Disney Channel, Cartoon Network, Discovery and National Geographic channels.

Dialogue with your favorite banker and learn about banking. Talk to marketing gurus, finance wizards, human resource professionals and other experts. Talk to successful people around. It is as easy as making an appointment with them, preparing questions and talking to them. You don’t need to know them or them to know you personally. I am sure they will oblige you. People like to talk about their achievements especially to an interested audience like you. You can get a lot of useful tips, too.

Attend seminars and conferences. You are never too old, too experienced, too successful or too embarrassed to learn.

One expert you need to have continuing dialogue with is your customer. He/she knows your business and how you could make more money from it by considering his/her needs.

Read. It is best to go back to school, but if school is not your cup of tea, then read, read, read. When I started out in organization and human resource development all I needed to do is read. My educational preparation was in Chemistry and Business Administration. All I know now, I got mostly from reading.

The important thing is you have learning buddies with whom you can discuss what you have read, its significance, applications and relevance to your business and to life.

I always cherish a gift of books and I have a habit of giving books as gifts. This Christmas I received more than a hundred books from my friends, Jimmy and Geena Gregorio.

Set up a work area at home. If you need to work at home, make an efficient and pleasing work corner for yourself in your bedroom or separate room that promotes organized, clear thinking. Fix it with a desk and comfortable chair, calendar, pens and pencils, pencil sharpener, calculator, desktop computer or laptop, desk lamp and others. Provide space for your books and other materials you might need to do work.

Don’t stack files in your home/office. Keep all files in your real office.

Install a bulletin board. Communication is your vital link to your employees. It promotes sense of belonging, care and concern, teamwork, common understanding, sharing of information and so on and so forth. Be sure to update it as often as possible. Put a humor corner where you can post fun memories, cartoons, jokes and fun messages. The Internet is a vast resource for BB materials.

Establish a budget and avoid careless borrowing. Recently we purchased a new car for my office and was approved by at least five banks for an auto loan. The car dealer was tempting us to get a second car. After some pencil pushing, I realized that a second car will make us want to earn more to pay for the loans. It means more work just for one more car. No, thank you. Refuse to spend what you haven’t earned.

Once you have projected your income and determined your fixed costs, identify your business needs and wants and establish a livable budget. Don’t play it by ear. Watch your finances closely. Buy your needs first before your wants. Use cash before you even think of borrowing. Overexten­ding your credit limits or making purchases beyond your means is bad for business. Think of the accruing interests and charges you have to pay when you fall behind payments. You get the feeling that you are working for your creditors instead of being an entrepreneur.

Sign up with the SSS, PhilHealth and Pag-ibig Fund, if you haven’t done so yet. Protect the welfare of your employees and their family at very little costs. It entitles them to sick, maternity, disability and retirement benefits. They could also take out loans to build their house, help them during hard times, and set up their own little business. And the cost is shared between your company and your employees.

If you can afford it, sign them up for educational and other benefits. Your younger employees might want to go back to school. Your travel bugs might opt for travel allowance or use of company vacation house out of town.

Be creative, innovative. Be on the lookout for better, cheaper materials or goods. Review your processes and improve them. If you have the budget for one single change in the way you do business, what would you do and how?

Give yourself and your employees a break. Employees of Misys International Banking Systems enjoy company-paid Friday night outs 51 times a year. Devco Philippines sponsor regular eat-outs for their employees to unwind and enjoy each other’s company outside work.

Don’t allow your employees to eat in their desk not only because it is unsanitary and the crumbs attract rats but also to give them reason to walk around and socialize with their officemates at the office pantry or canteen. Encourage them to take a walk outside the office during lunch or even coffee time. Turn off the lights and let them take forty winks during their breaks. Call centers even provide sleeping quarters for this purpose.

Keep your promises. Say what you mean and do what you say.

Choose fidelity. To quote the book, “If I really Wanted to Simplify My Life I Would”: Fidelity means the faithful execution of your duty, obligations or vows. It means that when faced with a choice, you choose not to lie, cheat, steal, commit fraud or harm another person or business. Living a life of fidelity means that you do not have to cover your behavior with alibis, take evasive action to avoid certain people, or devise elaborate schemes to make amends.”

We will have our last New Year’s Resolution list next column. All my best wishes for your success in the more important aspects of your life and business.

Moje Ramos-Aquino believes that making New Year’s resolution is better than not making one. Better to have a target and miss than shoot aimlessly. Her email address is

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