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Business owners are making New Year's resolutions [Associated Press]

By Joyce M. Rosenberg
Associated Press

Small-business owners aren’t just putting together budgets and sales projections as 2010 approaches. Like the rest of us, they’re making some New Year’s resolutions but their goals aren’t about losing weight or exercising more.

Business owners are resolving to fix problems in their companies or come up with ideas for working smarter in the new year. Here’s a sampling.

Spend quality time with clients

Merilee Kern plans to set aside time for a leisurely, friendly chat with the clients of her public relations firm in Poway, Calif. Kern realized that the one time when she and clients aren’t talking about business is when they call her during the holidays to say thank you for the gift baskets she sends.

“It’s the only conversation a year where we stop and ask about kids and really transcend the normal stuff,” said Kern, president of Kern Communications. “I want to take an opportunity to not talk about business.”

Protect the company cash flow

Heather Logrippo occasionally has found herself waiting for customers to pay for their ads in her Boston-based real estate magazine, Distinctive Homes. So her resolution is to accept credit cards to ensure she’s paid on time. “I’m not a bank,” Logrippo said. “For too long, I’ve been sympathetic.”

Logrippo’s customers are real estate agents who want to list their properties. But once a house is sold, “they don’t feel any urgency,” she said. “There’s no rush to pay me.” There is a downside to credit cards, and that’s the fee that a small business must pay the card issuer. But, said Logrippo, “it’s a better assurance that I’ll get paid on time.”

Making it official

Howard Ankin started his law practice in 1997, and it has grown to 25 employees. In the early years, he didn’t worry about formulating policies for vacation and sick time and other personnel matters. Now he says it’s time to formalize those policies in writing. “When I had a smaller office, the informality worked well for me — and now, at this point, the informality is working against me,” said Ankin, whose firm is based in Chicago.

So one of his resolutions is to create an employee handbook, something that human resources professionals urge small-business owners to do. The beginning of the year, before employees start asking for time off, is an ideal time to do it.

Working on work/life balance

Hope Katz Gibbs wanted to spend less time at work in the new year and more time with her two children.

But “instead of dialing things back for a work/life balance, ramping it up seems to be the best strategy at this point,” said Gibbs, president of Inkandescent Public Relations. Her Washington-based company, which targets entrepreneurs, expects to have more work as more people start businesses.

So she looked at her family life and realized that overbooking her 14-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son with after-school activities wasn’t the answer.

“The trend is to overextend them, give them a million activities, make them competitive,” Gibbs said. “I’m trying to have more fun with them rather than micromanage them.”

So Gibbs and her husband, illustrator Michael Gibbs plan to involve her children more in her work, taking them to child-appropriate work events when possible. She likes the idea of exposing them to the business world so they can find out how it works.

“It’s balancing in a different way,” she said.

This article was printed in more than a dozen publications including:


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"I get by with a little help from my friends," says Hope, who gives special thanks to:

• MICHAEL GIBBS, website illustration and design: www.michaelgibbs.com
• MAX KUKOY, website development: www.maxwebworks.com
• STEVE BARRETT, portrait of Hope on Bio page: www.stevebarrettphotography.com

Contact HOPE KATZ GIBBS by phone [703-346-6975] or email.