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OPINION: New year's resolutions: can we keep these?

As people reflect on their lives and make resolutions, business owners should also take stock of their businesses and make company-related resolutions.
Laurie Bissonette, FCPA, FCA, is a Partner with KPMG Enterpriseā„¢. She can be reached at 705-669-2521 or

It’s that time of year again when many people reflect on their lives and make resolutions to change something, do something, or not do something. It probably is a bit less common for business owners to make resolutions regarding their businesses. So I thought we would have a bit of fun (well, accountant fun) and translate 10 common resolutions into business ones.

Lose fat: Become more efficient. Take a look at systems and processes and see what can be streamlined and if duplication can be eliminated. Become a “lean” organization – make one activity work; avoid duplication.

Gain muscle: My personal favourite. Be more proactive at revenue generation: become laser focused on your current customers, determine who you want to be your future customers and devise a strategy to target and wow them!  Everyone likes to be appreciated – think of ways to constantly show your customers and future customers you appreciate their business and see increased returns in result.  

Quit smoking: Become more environmentally conscious. Develop a social responsibility strategy, recycle, encourage employees to make suggestions as to where waste can be reduced. And quit smoking!

Volunteer to help others: This one actually translates pretty well to the business context. Businesses that give back to their communities through employee volunteerism can reap rewards in terms of higher profile and revenues. We find it also builds a team spirit.

Save money: We’ll call this one “Reduce taxes.” Taxes can erode a significant portion of a business’ profits. Business owners should be proactive at understanding the various tax systems that impact them. If a business owner isn’t consulting a tax expert regularly, chances are they are paying too much. Be better organized: Take stock of where the business is and where you want it to be. Consider whether you should restructure the ownership of the company to take advantage of tax planning for the owners.  Consider whether or not you should be extracting value from an operating company to protect that value from unforeseen creditors.

Make new friends: Leverage social media to gain new clients and increase revenue. There are a number of social media avenues available to businesses today. If your business isn’t leveraging social media at all, consider consulting an expert to assess if there may be benefits. If you already do leverage social media, keep it up to date. Nothing is more frustrating to consumers than an out-of-date website, Facebook page or a silent Twitter account!

Keep in touch with old friends: Review your employee perks. Happy employees are the lifeblood of a successful business. Take stock of current compensation levels – are they consistent with the market? Is there anything you can offer employees that may be a low-cost perk but shows the employees they are valued, such as training to upgrade skills or to acquire new ones? Sometimes a change really is as good as a rest.

Manage debt: Another one that translates well for businesses. It is always important to manage debt levels even in a business context. Less debt means less risk when a company faces unfavourable economic conditions or competitive pressures. Maintaining a good relationship with your lenders is also important if the business is having difficulty meeting covenants or needs some new cash to expand.

Travel: Go global. Consider markets outside your traditional markets. There may be ways to exponentially grow the company by targeting clients or customers in another geography. With today’s technology, it is easier than ever to sell to customers thousands of miles away. Other companies are doing it and may be targeting your customers – don’t get left behind.

Hopefully, unlike my personal resolutions to cut back on coffee and cheese, your business resolutions won’t be broken before Jan. 31! Happy New Year, everyone!