10 New Year’s Resolutions for the Tactical Retailer

10 ideas to increase your odds of achieving personal and financial success in 2023.

10 New Year’s Resolutions for the Tactical Retailer

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It’s time for small business New Year’s resolutions. Here are 10 to help you manage your money better.

1.    Read (or reread) two books on better managing money in your business and personal life. Here are five suggestions:

The Only Investment Guide You’ll Ever Need, Andrew Tobias. An accessible, sensible, irreverent and no-frills guide to making and keeping more of the money you put aside to make more money.

Business Plans for Dummies, Paul Tiffany and Stephen D. Peterson. Just what it sounds like, except you don’t have to be a dummy to benefit from this straightforward, well-organized book.

Customers for Life, Carl Sewell and Paul B. Brown. Subtitled How to Turn That One Time Buyer Into A Lifelong Customer, this book by a successful auto dealer teaches superior customer service.

The E-Myth Revisited, Michael Gerber. The sequel/rewrite to Gerber’s previous book, The E-Myth, preaches building business success by adopting the fundamental premises of successful franchises: clear and consistent procedures and operations.

The Business of Contracting, Frank Blau (self-published). Don’t let the photocopied printing fool you. This collection of columns by one of the plumbing industry’s most admired innovators offers a wealth of useful advice.

2.    Review your expenses. Where can you cut back, or even eliminate business costs? Don’t just buy something because “it’s deductible.” Remember, you have to earn the money to pay for it first.

3.    Check your pricing. Are you adequately covering overhead? Are you getting the margins you’re capable of? Don’t race competitors to the no-margin bottom. Charge what your work is worth and then make sure you deliver service worth what you’re charging.

4.    Get bookkeeping software or upgrade the software you already have. QuickBooks from Intuit is the most widely recommended in this category, and it offers a good package adaptable to a wide range of businesses. But there are also some industry-specialized applications worth a look, some designed to work with QuickBooks, others in place of it.

5.    Hire a certified public accountant. A saying has it that no business has failed because of its accountant fees — but many have failed because of poor accounting. A good accountant isn’t just a bookkeeper — he or she can (and should) offer you sound, big-picture advice. Research candidates and interview more than one to make sure the person you hire really understands your business.

6.    Accept credit cards. It’s hard to imagine a store that doesn’t take plastic these days, but if you’ve been super slow to get on board, it’s adapt-or-die time. Plastic puts cash in your pocket faster, and for some customers it can make the difference between you or your competitor winning the sale. It’s worth the initial cost of setting up a merchant account and the fraction of each sale that the credit card companies take.

7.    Review your insurance. Do you have too little? Too much? When did you last bid out your insurance coverage? You may have earned a discount on your premiums by putting all your work with one insurer and by maintaining a good claims record over the year.

8.    Study your benefits. Training and losing employees is a big money sink for some businesses. Offer workers things that can make a difference in whether they stay or go. Some are costly (health insurance), but better deals are out there. Other benefits — flexible scheduling, certain kinds of supplemental insurance, even a more attractive break room — can be fairly inexpensive.

9.    Set up a retirement plan. This goes for employees and yourself. There are many ways to help your workers get started on retirement plans without spending a lot of extra money. And you should do the same for yourself. Retirement plans provide security for you and your family as you get older and free you from depending on the business. If you have a retirement plan already, fund it to the best of your ability.

10.Consider offering service contracts. Consider whether your business can accommodate some sort of prepaid maintenance or gunsmithing plan for frequent customers. It can guarantee you business and provide a financial floor for your operation. Design one that’s easy to maintain and helpful for your customers, and get sound professional advice in setting it up. Then make sure you promote it.

Get to Work

The point of this list isn’t to overwhelm you. Few if any of us could make 10 resolutions and follow them all through to success. Look at this list and find three, two, or even one item that looks particularly good. Then make it a priority and stick to it. And when 2024 rolls around, pick up this list again, and keep going. Happy New Year!


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