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Small Biz

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By John Haskell

Looking back on 1996, there have been many opportunities to take action, build business relationships, close sales and create profitable revenue.

There have also been many missed opportunities, failures to perform as well as we might have liked, and time crunches that prevented our being as prepared or as organized as we would like.

Entrepreneurs, especially smaller business owners, in all types of businesses and professions can use the New Year to assess and plan specific growth for their company and for themselves.

It’s time to take stock, assess weaknesses and determine how to be more effective in 1997. What would you do differently, if you could do it again? Let me suggest five vital areas for improvement:

1. Meetings we all go to a lot of them and most are too long, too poorly organized, and produce too little.

2. Selling most of us have to sell in one way or another. How have you performed this year? Are there sales you did not close that would have helped make your year more prosperous?

3. Speaking to groups are you as good as you would like to be? Do you expect to have speaking opportunities next year? Should you consider some steps to make yourself a better speaker?

4. Time management did you miss some quality time with your family, spend too much time on airplanes, work too many hours? Should you consider some new ways to organize your time?

5. Networking did you add substantially to your network’s power this year? Have you evaluated your network to see if it will deliver a new job, substantial new business, important new contacts?

Meetings, sales, speaking, time management and networking are all part of your personal marketing mix that will add up to success in business as an entrepreneur, service professional, or professional manager.

How can you make the meetings that you participate in, especially the ones you organize and run work better? An excellent new tool just came across my desk. “117 Tips for Effective Meetings” by Steve Kaye is available for $5 (714) 528-1300. This little book by Kaye, author of “Meetings in an Hour or Less,” can put productive hours back in your life.

Selling is tough. Fortunately, Roy Chitwood, of Max Sacks International, has written an excellent book entitled “World Class Selling,” published by Bestsellers Publishers, $24.95.

Speaking in front of a group is the second greatest fear most humans possess, right behind the fear of death. Some people say that dying on the platform is worse than death itself. As a professional speaker, I work to constantly upgrade my skills. What have you done to make yourself a better speaker? Do you dread networking meetings where you have to introduce yourself? Have you been dodging the boss’ suggestions that you speak at the next sales meeting? Did you bomb out during a partners meeting last year?

Speaking, like athletic activity, requires practice. Practice is often more productive when a coach is present to help you develop skills, eliminate bad habits and assess your training needs. Judyth Jernudd is a leader in coaching programs for the development of personal and group presentation skills. Her firm, Prime Performance (310-306-6999), has produced outstanding results for corporate executives, entrepreneurs and professionals.

Time management programs and tools abound. The problem is that the systems have to be used consistently to make them effective. Time wasters are all around. One of the biggest ones for most entrepreneurs, especially if you run your own small business is writing checks and creating records.

The new Quicken financial management software is a wonderful time saver. If you are not writing your business and personal checks on the computer, think about making a New Year’s resolution to get both office and home checking accounts onto Quicken.

The records, reports, and planning opportunities that result are superb. You get an effective picture of your finances basically at no cost. This small change is the first step to gaining control capitalizing on expert advice.

Networking is a business today. Networking, to be truly effective, must be centered in self-management skills. No one can direct you to be a successful networker. Local networking groups are too numerous to count, but one stands out. The Professionals Network Group (PNG) now provides 20 groups of senior professionals from Orange County to the Bay Area.

This network of over 400 professionals in all categories supplies education, training, and real business opportunities to its members. For more information call PNG at (818) 382-6496.

Action Items:

1. To help yourself focus on next year commit 30 minutes once a week for the rest of the year. Focus on one action area: meetings, sales, speaking, time management, or networking. Take a blank 3×5 index card. Determine one action you will take during the first six months of the year.

2. Make one networking phone call each week for the rest of the year. Set up an appointment this month to help you and your network connection get off to a fast start in ’97.

3. Determine when and how you are going to have personal time next year. Put your two-week vacation on the calendar now. Don’t let anything interfere with it. You’ll be glad you did.

John Haskell is President of Dr. Revenue’s Sales and Marketing Clinic in West Los Angeles. He can be reached at 800-332-0258.

Dan Rabinovitch, coordinator for the Small Business column, welcomes reader feedback and topic suggestions. He can be reached at (213) 743-2344 or by e-mail at drabin@ec2.edu.

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