Using last year’s failures as a roadmap to success: What your business should do before the end of January.

The beginning of each year brings new opportunities and challenges for business owners. Some of us are dying to put last year behind us, while countless others feel inspired by the way their business year ended.

There are three things I would suggest every business owner do before the end of January:

  1. Assess your past,
  2. Plan for your future, and
  3. Move on.

While 2012 is still fresh in your mind, as painful or pleasant as it may have been, it’s time to sit down and access what worked and what didn’t for your business — and most importantly why. Dig in, and be certain why it was a success. Was it a new hire? Better technology or training available for your employees? Perhaps the price was right and your business was on point for a top trend of 2012.

Be determined to start the New Year knowing what works and doesn’t for your business, and find your next course of action — whether it’s maintaining established goals, adding an employee or implementing new technology.

Often times business owners/managers are spread too thin. Is now the time to hire that assistant manager to help keep all of the balls in the air? Although we’re passionate about many things our businesses have to offer, some items just don’t have enough margin of profit to continue. January is a perfect time to assess your financials on main items and see what your true margin is and if it’s best to continue or discontinue the product.

One great universal truth that is hard for business owners to accept is that there are several operating costs outside of our control, including business fees, taxes, accounting etc. We have to do our best to divide and distribute those costs in order to make the year a success. If you haven’t already, now is the time to educate your employees and, when necessary, customers about the cost of doing business. We’re all here to help and serve the community — while making a profit.  The profit must be planned and be within industry standards; too high and you’re a thief, too low and you’re out of business.

In a service-driven business, like mine, it’s imperative that I understand the labor, the payroll taxes, the wear and tear of maintenance for the truck, the cost of the added miles to the truck, the liability I take on, the insurance incurred, the gas, the loss of it not going to another call, etc. I have to respond to these costs, and for my business that meant implementing a service fee; it helps keep my job costs lower. Others in my industry offer free service calls and oftentimes show up to a situation where they aren’t really needed or there is minimal opportunity for work. In some cases, these competitors pass the cost off to another area of business or simply aren’t offering the level of customer care I’m committed to maintaining.

Now is the time. This is the year for your business to be profitable by knowing what has and hasn’t worked in the past, how much your jobs cost, and knowing what you can offer as a leader. Let’s make 2013 the best year yet for your business.

For more information about Benjamin Franking Plumbing, visit