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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Small Business Profit in 2009

The election has come and gone. Still, news on the economic front is grim. Big business is laying off workers by the thousands. How on earth can a small business survive?

I strongly believe that this is a great time for small businesses to lay the foundation for a profitable 2009. It isn't too late. In fact, this is just the right time.

Start by thinking a bit about the Japanese management theory of Kaizen. The key to Kaizen is to strive for continuous improvement through all the aspects of life. When applied to business, practicing Kaizen means to focus on activities that will constantly improve all of the functions of your enterprise.

Take a hard look at your business and make a list of everything that is working well. Then take a harder look and make a list of everything that needs improvement.

Now, ask yourself a question. When was the last time you and your management team wrote up a business plan? If you have a business plan, when was the last time you reviewed it and revised it?

If you haven't written a business plan, or if the last time you reviewed and revised it was more than a year ago, it's time to do it again. Here are five great reasons why you should write your new business plan now.

1) The business planning process makes you think. It is easy (although painful) to identify what doesn't work in your business. It is another thing completely to figure out how to turn those weaknesses into strengths. The structured thinking required to build a business plan may be just what you need to turn your efforts into profits this year.

2) Writing a business plan will give you a better understanding of all the details that go into running your business well. It may be that by changing just one or two of the details you can begin to build substantial profits this year.

3) Building a comprehensive business plan will make it easier for you to communicate your company's goals and procedures to your management team and to your staff. This will help to improve cooperation and performance.

4) A solid business plan increases your credibility and will help you make a more effective presentation to prospective investors and lenders.

5) Writing your business plan will allow you to remember all that you have achieved and to make a road map to your next successes.

Take this opportunity to turn off the telephone, minimize your email screen, and figure out where you are now, where you are going, and how you will get there. Those are the key elements in business planning, and writing your business plan is the first step in building a pattern of Kaizen -- continuous improvement designed to lead to continuous profit.

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