As a business consultant I get the opportunity meet hundreds of professionals in every imaginable business each year. And time and experience have taught me one thing – there are a few “Must Haves" for any modern business. My clients hire me to ensure their business does well so the first thing I do is provide them with a list of “must haves". Here it is for 2005…
# 1 Computer and Information Security
Whether for small business, huge corporations or home-based start-ups, this is the place where the most damage can happen in the shortest amount of time. I can’t stress this enough but still most people don’t listen until it’s too late. This year I’ve made it easier than ever. Consider this… Imagine a computer security solution that addresses the root of the problem, costs under $10 and can be implemented in about an hour. Computer Security in the Workplace is a book that does just that. It was written by two IT pros from Harvard but with none of the techno-babble you might expect. It only takes about an hour to read and is becoming THE guide of choice by a lot of savvy companies. You can get it at www.ComputerSecurityBook.com. It goes quickly so don’t miss this one. I bought a copy for each of my clients as a holiday gift and the “thank you" messages continue to roll in each time a disaster is averted, which is more than you might imagine.
# 2 Proof of PR
If your name shows up in the media – intentionally or otherwise – you NEED to know about it. Knowing about this can give you the competitive edge to use fast-breaking positive media coverage for publicity (much better than paid advertising) or help you track who is printing your press releases. More than this however, I began recommending “media clipping" services to clients years ago as a way to make sure competitors are not taking liberties with company or trademarked names or, worse yet, running a slander campaign. There are a lot of services out there today. Many of my clients use www.CyberAlert.com or www.CustomScoop.com, which both offer free trials. If this is not right for you, try entering the term in question in quotes in Google.com and running an Internet search. The “quotes around term" will isolate that phrase and return only exact matches, greatly reducing your investigative efforts.
# 3 A Clear Plan
Times have changed. The “napkin plans" just don’t cut it anymore and neither do the overly complex ones created by executives who belong in a “Dilbert" comic strip. And by “plan" I mean ANY plan, be it a Business Plan, Marketing Plan, Financial Plan or even a Project Plan. If this final tip does not apply to you, count yourself among the lucky. If you feel like you could benefit from a better plan, whether it is to obtain a bank loan, investors or just for your own sanity, there are plenty of reasonably priced software products out there that can do a great job for you. Stop by your local office supply superstore or start online with www.PaloAlto.com or www.PlanMagic.com.
Good luck. I hope this list helps.
Scott Jason is the director of SEOPM, a business consultancy specializing in assisting Internet-based and “click-n-mortar" businesses, primarily in the areas of online services. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org