Get Your Business in Shape This Year!No matter who you are, or where you’re from, you know someone whose New Year’s resolution is to get in shape and stop eating so many sweets. Their big goal in 2020 is to learn how to curtail their sweet tooth’s cravings and replace those sugary treats with healthier options—foods that sustain energy in a stable, healthy way, as opposed to a fast spike of energy, followed by an even faster crash and burn. It’s an admirable goal that can lead them to long-term health and success.

OK, OK—so how does this translate to my business, you ask? Well, think about all of the things your business has “digested” over this past year that didn’t generate healthy sustenance for you, your employees, or your customers—if you cut those things out of your company’s diet and replaced them with healthier options, you could improve your business’s long-term health and success.

For example, if you were carefully watching your company’s key financial performance indicators (a.k.a. monitoring your business’s Fat Caliper Chart) over this last year, you would know right away which “foods” sustained your company’s income stream over the long-term, and which created a sharp spike before plummeting into a crash and burn.

It’s pretty funny, actually, how well weight loss and fitness advice translates to managing a business and “trimming the fat” out of your company’s operations budget.

Here are some tips for improving the health of your company in 2020:

1. Use a fat caliper chart

In other words, use a dashboard to track the financial health of your business. An example is the Dashboard feature in the online business planning and financial management tool LivePlan. The Dashboard integrates with your accounting system (QuickBooks or Xero) and allows you to compare your current financial health to what you thought you were going to do (your budget and forecast), what you did last month, and what you did last year during the same period. Any health nut will tell you how important it is to have goals, track those goals, and adjust along the way for optimum performance.

Just as a fat caliper is used to measure the body fat of a person, the Dashboard is used to measure the financial health of your company, so you know where to trim the fat, and where to add more sustenance.

2. Eat foods that sustain energy as oppose to create a spike, crash, and burn effect

It’s important to have a long-term marketing strategy that includes solid customer research, benchmarks, and goals. This strategy should become embedded in your company’s marketing culture, as opposed to the one-hit-wonder approach. Those kinds of advertising and marketing campaigns should be avoided, as they are reactive, and usually scams.

Create a marketing budget and plan that maintains the health of your organization over the long haul. For example, find out what keywords people use to search for your products or services online. Engage in a long-term pay-per-click campaign with Google Ad Words or Bing Ads, and invest in quality SEO (search engine optimization). These types of advertising and marketing campaigns can be easily measured and adjusted based on monitoring their performance.

Whether or not your business is online, you should have an online presence. Learn more from Google’s “Get Your Business Online” initiative.

The goal is to develop and track a marketing plan that keeps the right traffic flowing into your store (be it on- or off-line) on a regular, healthy basis.

3. Reward yourself for hitting your health goals

Exercising and eating healthy is not always easy to do. It takes research, time, perseverance, and commitment to achieve your big goals. It’s the same for your business. So start off the year by outlining a plan for sustainable growth, be sure your entire company is aware of your plan, implement it, track it, adjust it where needed, and most importantly, celebrate your wins!

Best of luck to you and your business in 2020. I hope you find the right balance of sugary delights to sustain the health of your organization.

Caroline CummingsCaroline Cummings

An entrepreneur. A disruptor. An advocate. Caroline has been the CEO and co-founder of two tech startups—one failed and one she sold. She is passionate about helping other entrepreneurs realize their full potential and learn how to step outside of their comfort zones to catalyze their growth. Caroline is currently executive director of Oregon RAIN. She provides strategic leadership for the organization’s personnel, development, stakeholder relations, and community partnerships. In her dual role as the venture catalyst manager, Cummings oversees the execution of RAIN’s Rural Venture Catalyst programs. She provides outreach and support to small and rural communities; she coaches and mentors regional entrepreneurs, builds strategic local partnerships, and leads educational workshops.