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17 Business Resolutions for 2017

Chamber Staff
Tuesday, January 17, 2017
Establishing a list of New Year’s business resolutions can be challenging, but it could mean greater successes in 2017. Knoxville Chamber staff members, partners, and board members collaborated on a list of 17 things businesses should do this year to be prosperous and successful.

1. Get Organized

Start fresh in 2017 by organizing your desk! Chaos breeds inefficiency and can leave a bad impression on co-workers and clients. If you have a lot of paperwork on your desk, consider how it can be consolidated into files. Options might include clustering by project, purpose (i.e. bills to be paid), or priority. For large projects consider putting everything in a binder (if you are old school like me) or utilizing an app like Evernote to establish an organizational system on your computer or tablet. Finally, look through that stack of business cards you’ve collected. If you don’t recognize the person or company, toss it. Think about using an app like CamCard to keep your contacts organized and in your mobile device where you need them.
Lori Fuller
Vice President of Marketing & Events

2. Set Goals

The legendary Dallas Cowboy coach Tom Landry said it best – “Setting a goal is not the main thing.  It is deciding how you will achieve it and stay with that plan.” As 2017 starts, pick three things you want to do better in your business this year. It can be as simple as writing a thank you note to a new customer or revamping your staff meetings. Once you have defined your list of three goals, share that list with a mentor so you are accountable to someone. Ask that mentor to check in with you once a quarter so you can report your progress.
Doug Lawyer
Vice President of Economic Development

3. Create a Monthly Calendar

Utilizing a monthly calendar allows your team to effectively align your time and resources with actions that best support your organization’s mission. Recognizing the projects, deadlines, and events on the horizon will cause you to think ahead and improve time management. Maintaining an up-to-date monthly calendar will ensure that your daily tasks and work flow are keeping pace with your targeted timelines. Continuously looking forward and working toward goals will maximize efficiency and increase focused efforts. It can be particularly effective for cross-functional teams coordinating responsibilities to achieve a common end goal.
Megan Wright
Marketing & Events Assistant

4. Define Your Best & Prioritize Use of Your Time

In order to be truly successful and fulfilled, every business should take time to step back and define what makes them operate at “their best.” I believe this begins with defining the elements that cause your business and employees to come alive and thrive. These elements include macro and micro details, internal and external. Internally, companies may thrive most when employees are given flexible work hours or shared and open office spaces for staff. Externally, some may realize they operate best when focusing on small target audiences, while others might be more effective having a broader reach across audiences. Once these elements are uncovered, the next step to success is determining which are most important and creating a strategic plan to implement them. In order to function “best,” prioritizing these elements and creating time and space for them is essential. They must be integrated into the day-to-day operations of your company and expressed with importance to staff. These elements will change with time, so it’s important to reevaluate regularly and continue refreshing.
Holly Holloway
Events Manager

5. Delegate & Trust Better

Delegating work first starts with trusting your team members. The next step is providing general guidelines for specific tasks but giving the team members space to actually perform without micromanaging. An explanation of what a successful outcome should look like is also helpful so everyone involved has a clear understanding of the leader’s vision and what needs to be accomplished to achieve a successful outcome. This step is also known as starting with the end in mind and making sure the vision is clear to the team members. Providing team members with deadlines and milestones to assess their progress is important so surprises are minimized and expectations are clear. Last, it’s absolutely crucial to give praise often both in public and in writing. This will inspire loyalty with your team members while also helping them find job satisfaction. If delegation is handled properly, a leader will create bench strength and mentors within their business and organization.
Tammy White
President & CEO, Leadership Knoxville
6. Overhaul Your Business Plan
Business owners make lots of decisions every day: driving to work, over coffee, during lunch, and while sitting in the comfort of their home. Business planning has changed, and the traditional business planning process is dead. The concept of lean manufacturing replaced business planning with a much more fluid and active planning methodology. Dr. Saras Sarasvathy from the Darden School of Business has been the leader in Effectuation Business Planning. Effectuation planning is much more in tune with how we function every day. Planning is a continuous process addressing multiple business challenges.
Bruce Hayes
Director, Tennessee Small Business Development Center – Knoxville
7. Take a Hard Look at All Processes & Refine Them
In 2017 business owners should add three things to their monthly process: know your cash, know your product quality, and talk to your mentors. Cash is the financial test of your business success. Knowing net profits and profit margins is critical. Your product quality means your customers are in a constant interactive relationship with you. Getting customer feedback is as important as the sales transaction. Talking to your mentors keeps you accountable and allows you to make changes based on wisdom and not just guessing or emotion.
Doug Minter
Director of Small Business Development

8. Conduct Research & Survey Your Target Markets

Before beginning a new project, I always like to do research and gather as much helpful information as possible. By doing so it helps to create a clear picture of the problem, outline possible solutions, and identify key target markets. Doing effective research saves time and is a critical component in making good marketing decisions. I am also a big fan of using survey tools like Survature to learn about our key target markets and their specific needs. It helps to collect accurate data you can rely on and assists your company as it develops effective marketing and communication strategies.
Kayla Witt
Marketing Coordinator for Economic Development
9. Get Social
Social media trends rapidly change and evolve, so it can be hard to stay on top of the latest platforms and strategies for engagement. However, remaining active on social media channels is necessary for any business. With apps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat integrated into people’s daily routines, it’s important to take advantage of strategic social media marketing for your brand. This means more than posting on a regular basis. It means planning strategic content, maintaining a social media calendar, and facilitating conversations and engagement. To learn about this year’s trends, be sure to come out to our Digital Marketing Series throughout the month of January! (That’s what we in the marketing world call a ‘shameless plug’).
Jessica Karsten
Marketing & Communications Coordinator

10. Review Your Website with an Outsiders’ Perspective

A business’s website is often their audience’s first impression of them. Take 2017 to review your website to ensure you’re giving the right impression and getting the results you want. This may include increasing search engine optimization, making it mobile responsive, or incorporating better content strategy. Start by having a trusted advisor or mentor outside of your business review your website in its entirety to identify areas of improvement. This provides a fresh perspective and can help you find updates to make that you may not have noticed before.
Laddy Fields
Art Director

11. Consider How Mobile Technology Can Change Your Business

Every year since 2011 has been heralded ‘The Year of Mobile’ in marketing circles. Maybe 2017 should be ‘The Year of the Mobile Imperative.’ According to MarketingLand, last year over half of consumer web traffic was accessed on tablets or mobile phones, and TrustLook estimated that 70 percent of consumers would use mobile in their holiday shopping in 2016. Businesses cannot afford to ignore such a large segment of their audience. What does mobile mean for your business? First, don’t worry about having an app. With app downloads down more than 20 percent since last year, it is most important to interact with your clients and customers using native apps, like their email clients, web browsers, or text messaging apps. Second, make sure your emails and website displays properly on mobile devices. A responsive website ensures that your content sizes correctly for each device. Third, think about using text messaging services like Trumpia or SlickText to offer coupons, promote events, or provide general engagement.
Jeremy Floyd
President & CEO, Finworx
Chamber Board Member

12. Talk to Your Customers, One-On-One

Why is it important to talk to your customers one-on-one? It’s important to remember that no two businesses are exactly alike, and it is essential to learn each customer’s needs. Whether you are in sales or strictly customer service - get to know your client and drill down to their unique challenges and their goals as a business owner. Once you gain this knowledge, you may address their needs strategically, giving your product the opportunity to stand out ahead of others. In doing so, you will cultivate a rapport that will establish loyalty translating into a long-term relationship.
Michelle Kiely
Vice President of Development

13. Plan a Strategic Retreat

Just like an individual makes a New Year’s resolution, organizations should take the time to reflect on the previous year and look ahead to what is next. Being strategic does not mean just having a written strategic plan. Regardless of whether your business has a written plan, is in the middle of creating one, or is not ready for a written plan quite yet, the act of getting stakeholders together to discuss the direction of the organization can be enlightening and propel your business to the next level. The retreat should focus on your goals and inspire action for improvement.
Gwen Rogers
Director of Information Systems & Strategies

14. Look for Success Stories & Tell Them

Alex Haley, the author who made Knoxville his home, is credited with the phrase,
“Find the good, and praise it.” He expounded on the idea in a later interview: “My thing is simply: let's not exhaust ourselves dealing with the negatives. Let's try to find a way to improve things. Let's try to find a way to make it better. That's what I mean by ‘find the good and praise it,’’ he said. Consider applying this principle at your workplace by highlighting your co-workers’ successes, whether through a personal note, in your organization’s newsletter, or as a way to begin staff meetings. This positive reinforcement will pay dividends.
Amy Nolan
Vice President of Public Policy

15. Develop a Group of Trusted Advisors

It doesn’t matter what type of business you have or work in; having people with whom you can discuss or bounce ideas off of is very important. Developing a group of trusted advisors is one of the most beneficial things you can do to be successful. These individuals don’t necessarily have to be in the same type of business you are involved in, as a matter of fact, a more diverse group with complementary skill sets is probably better. Pay close attention to the quality of the individuals as you choose your network. You have to believe in one another and know that the conversations you are having or ideas you are getting feedback on are intended to help you be successful. Sometimes that means you hear a different opinion than what you had hoped or thought you would hear.  You have to know that person is being honest and trust they have your long-term best interest in mind. After all, isn’t that why you went to them in the first place?
Rhonda Rice
Executive Vice President

16. Read, Read, Read

Working in a world of constant change, it is important to update our knowledge of business trends, new technology, and growth opportunities. The best way to stay on top of these issues is to read. I suggest reading books about how to effectively run a small business like The E-Myth by Michael Gerber and The Wall Street Journal’s Complete Small Business Guidebook by Colleen Debaise. Marketing gurus like Malcolm Gladwell and Seth Godin offer great insight into consumer habits and tendencies. You can read magazines and websites like Wired and Mashable to learn about technology trends. There are many periodicals like Success, Forbes, and Inc. that are well-rounded for general business information.  Reading is one of the most efficient ways to acquire information and leaders need a lot of information to be successful.
Mark Field
Senior Vice President of Chamber Development 

17. Use the Chamber’s Resources Wisely

The Chamber provides an array of business resources for our members and there are many ways to get connected and make the most out of your membership. Attend ribbon cuttings to build relationships, use your Office Depot Chamber Advantage Card to save big on supplies, and participate on one of our numerous committees. Also, be sure to get targeted sales lists from our research specialist to narrow down who your sales people are calling, and stay informed by reading our weekly newsletter The Loop or monthly newsletter Commerce. Nothing is more beneficial to business owners then staying up-to-date on the latest news, acquisitions, expansions, and legislation.
Ashleigh Christian
Membership Development Manager

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