A new year is here, and with it comes an opportunity to make some resolutions for 2010. I’m looking toward this year through hopeful eyes, a much different view than what I saw in 2009. I, like most people, approached 2009 cautiously, fearful and uncertain about the future. In retrospect, this attitude only contributed to the greater problem of a failing economy. Consumers were afraid to spend money; businesses were hesitant about making investments that could lead to improvements and growth; and popular opinion seemed to be that we were headed for imminent economic catastrophe, the likes of which hadn’t been seen since the Great Depression. The current financial crisis may be the worst that many of us have faced in our lifetimes, but in terms of severity, it is hardly comparable to the Great Depression, when unemployment rates topped 25 percent (the national unemployment rate peaked at around 10 percent in 2009). And, like those before us who muddled through, we too will recover and rebound stronger than we were before. While 2009 may have been a frustrating year for most, and a devastating year for many, hopefully 2010 will bring a renewed sense of determination and an opportunity for us to reevaluate, repair and rebuild our businesses.
As we enter 2010, I hope your resolutions include focusing on making your business successful, profitable and equipped to weather the financial storm. Evaluate your strengths and determine where you may fall short. Develop practices to increase efficiency and save money. Should you invest in software to streamline billing procedures or reorganize your fleet and routes to eliminate needless travel? Discover ways to diversify your business. Perhaps adding firewood or mulch production could provide the added income to sustain you through seasonal slumps. Market your business aggressively. Do not waste any opportunity to introduce your business to potential customers or reconnect with existing customers. Create long-term plans for your business. Decide what direction you want to go and where you want to be in the future, then calculate what it will take to get there, and put your plan into action. Simply riding out this recession and refusing to revisit your strategy and adjust to fit the market may cost you your business.
Here’s to 2010, may it be your most profitable and successful year yet!
Tree Services contributor Michael Tain’s Tools and Techniques column will not appear in this issue, but will resume in March.