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5 KEYS to a Successful New Business Year



This has been a REALLY tough year for many businesses and business people. “I can’t wait till this year is over” is something a great many of us feel right now. It is entirely normal and indeed healthy to expect that with a new year comes new opportunities and indeed new hope.

Perhaps now it is only right for us to pat ourselves on the back: for still being here, for still surviving, for still wanting, for still believed and for still SUCCEEDING….I have always believed that mountains are there to be climbed and next year may present itself as another or a different peak to scale….Christmas is a good time to take stock, to remind yourself why it is, you do what you do, and where it is you need to go. It is a time to prepare mentally and physically, to recharge those batteries - and to reignite your desire to succeed.

The world in which we now operate is one of constant flux – information and opportunity travels at such a speed, you would be forgiven for thinking that it is impossible to keep up. While the tools of doing business are in some cases unrecognisable from those we used only a few years ago – it is my absolute belief that the rules remain intact. Let me explain, here are my 5 KEYS to a Successful New Business Year


#1. Engage with People

Engaging with people is the fundamental first step towards creating person to person relationships. Relationships equal more in business; way too much talk now focuses on the venue, tool or technology – when really these are all secondary to the simple act of SAYING HELLO…. So whether it is making a face to face introduction, picking up the phone, asking a question, leaving a comment on a blog or RTing a tweet – remember the real power lies in DOING rather than the talking about it.

#2. Start to Truly Listen

Listening is probably our most powerful sense, yet so few of us use it well. We often pretend to listen rather than actually listen. Listening requires effort and concentration but it is worth its weight in gold. Think about it! Through listening we can HEAR what our customers want, where our markets are, where opportunities exist for us, how we can innovate and ultimately how you can be successful.

#3. Realise Together We Are Always Greater

All of mankind greatest achievements have come from us working together. From leaving Africa, to building the pyramids and putting a man on the moon, these achievements serve to constantly remind us – that together we will always be greater than the sum of our parts. Technologies serve to create new exponential opportunities for us to realise our collective potential. All we need to do to get there is reach out to one another.

#4. Become a Real Leader

Celebrity culture now infests our weaker minds; it’s like a drug that threatens to deceive the masses. A lack of genuine leaders has created a gap in a market where people are desperate for something to follow. The real power of influence is in what you do with it, not in how much you can eat. If bestowed with leadership, become a real leader rather than just another leadership abuser, because they are ten a penny.

#5. Develop a New Vision

With all that’s being watched, said and read about the current doom and gloom, you may think that I am losing my marbles – when I say it is really a time of plenty, but hold on! Our realisation that old ways no longer work leads to an inevitable conclusion – new ways will have to be found and someone will be required to find them…. Now is a time of creation, it is a time of innovation and it is a time for vision. To see new ways is to first think in new ways…. You will start to change the world as soon as you start to CHANGE your perception of it.

What are your New Year’s Business Resolutions?



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The Author:

Digital expert, top 10% influencer with over 10 years’ senior management experience - including managing projects and teams, and growing companies in the Irish, international and online marketplaces. Co-founded one of the largest B2B blogs in the world, helped grow a B2B social media to over 1,000,000 members, created the strategy for one of the most effective SME Facebook pages in the world and have grown 3 business websites (TweakYourBiz.com, BizSugar.com & MyKidsTime.ie) to in excess of a 100,000 unique visitors per month. Have consulted and worked with both corporate and SME clients on leveraging digital to drive business KPIs. Speaker at industry events, have authored several industry reports on the Digital Economy and appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Business Insider and other leading online and offline business publications. Specialities include: Entrepreneurship Business Development, Start-ups, Business Planning, Management, Training, Leadership, Sales Management, Sales, Sales Process, Coaching, Online Advertising, Blogging, Online Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Digital Marketing, Content Marketing, SEO, Social Media Strategist, Digital Strategy, Social Media ROI, User Generated Content, Social Customer Care. http://www.ahaingroup.com/

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  • paulmullan

    These points may seem simple or obvious to some. Unfortunately too many people ignore the simple/obvious and try to over complicate things. This is good sound advice Niall. I would add #6 “be prepared to work even harder than before”As far as my New Year resolution – “to spend more time enjoying the journey in 2010 and to celebrate “the now”, achievements and the good people in my life (family/friends)”Happy Xmas to you, BT team (Fred/Facundo) and all the readers!!Paulhttp://ie.linkedin.com/in/paulmullan

  • unacoleman

    Thanks Niall – some reflection at the end of one year and the beginning of another is always good: put a brake on the madness (or spinning wheels) and look at the road we're travelling.

  • barneyausten

    Hi Niall. Some good one's here. I'd add not dwelling on past problems – in reality they no longer exist! Today and tomorrow is what counts. There is no doubt in my mind that open participation and communication as you have listed here will be at the forefront of helping businesses develop. This has been a tough year, next year will be challenging – but with challenge comes opportunity and we all need to just keep our eyes open to make sure that opportunity is taken.

  • Anonymous

    These points may seem simple or obvious to some. Unfortunately too many people ignore the simple/obvious and try to over complicate things. This is good sound advice Niall. I would add #6 “be prepared to work even harder than before”

    As far as my New Year resolution – “to spend more time enjoying the journey in 2010 and to celebrate “the now”, achievements and the good people in my life (family/friends)”

    Happy Xmas to you, BT team (Fred/Facundo) and all the readers!!

    Paul
    http://ie.linkedin.com/in/paulmullan

  • http://www.btbtraining.com/blog Niall Devitt

    Thanks Paul, The problem with common sense eh :) Many Happy returns.

  • http://www.btbtraining.com/blog Niall Devitt

    Hi Una, and what a road we have travelled this year. What doesn't kill you :) Thanks for your wonderful posts and inspiring support. Have a great Xmas. Regards, Niall

  • http://www.btbtraining.com/blog Niall Devitt

    Barney, so so true!! Learn from the past and then move on and yes I think that collaboration is the new word for competition. Thanks for your patience, insight and support. Here's to a big one next year. Wishing you a Happy Xmas. Cheers, Niall

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Niall – some reflection at the end of one year and the beginning of another is always good: put a brake on the madness (or spinning wheels) and look at the road we’re travelling.

  • http://blog.myprojecttracker.com Barney Austen

    Hi Niall. Some good one’s here. I’d add not dwelling on past problems – in reality they no longer exist! Today and tomorrow is what counts. There is no doubt in my mind that open participation and communication as you have listed here will be at the forefront of helping businesses develop. This has been a tough year, next year will be challenging – but with challenge comes opportunity and we all need to just keep our eyes open to make sure that opportunity is taken.

  • http://www.btbtraining.com/blog Niall Devitt

    Thanks Paul, The problem with common sense eh :) Many Happy returns.

  • http://www.btbtraining.com/blog Niall Devitt

    Hi Una, and what a road we have travelled this year. What doesn’t kill you :) Thanks for your wonderful posts and inspiring support. Have a great Xmas. Regards, Niall

  • http://www.btbtraining.com/blog Niall Devitt

    Barney, so so true!! Learn from the past and then move on and yes I think that collaboration is the new word for competition. Thanks for your patience, insight and support. Here’s to a big one next year. Wishing you a Happy Xmas. Cheers, Niall

  • elainerogers

    Great post Niall and well sound advice.Anyone who began their business in the past 18 months, and is feeling the strain, would do well to imagin their business to be like a big concrete wheel, 8 feet in diameter.Imagine rolling this concrete wheel, and how difficult it is to just get it moving at all. Then, with each efort, the wheel moves a little more freely and finally gains momentum to free wheel, only needing a little push now and then. Starting a business is difficult at the best of times, but perseverance and dedication WILL prevail, and we will all get there :)

  • http://www.seefincoaching.com/blog Elaine Rogers

    Great post Niall and well sound advice.
    Anyone who began their business in the past 18 months, and is feeling the strain, would do well to imagin their business to be like a big concrete wheel, 8 feet in diameter.
    Imagine rolling this concrete wheel, and how difficult it is to just get it moving at all. Then, with each efort, the wheel moves a little more freely and finally gains momentum to free wheel, only needing a little push now and then. Starting a business is difficult at the best of times, but perseverance and dedication WILL prevail, and we will all get there :)

  • http://www.abilitysuccessgrowth.com Elli St.George Godfrey

    As we move from one year to the next, it’s good to stop and assess the basics. Are we connecting with others as we intend? Are the few seconds it takes to listen to someone worth it to us? Could sharing our questions, successes, and failures with someone else bring clarity to our thought process as we go forward to the next stage of our business?

    Niall, your last tip reminded me of something recent I read. There are many small business owners celebrating that they have survived so far. They have been good enough to stay in business despite the difficult economic conditions. And that’s great but…what does it take to thrive? It’s time to define what is beyond “good enough.”

  • http://www.abilitysuccessgrowth.com/ Elli St.George Godfrey

    As we move from one year to the next, it's good to stop and assess the basics. Are we connecting with others as we intend? Are the few seconds it takes to listen to someone worth it to us? Could sharing our questions, successes, and failures with someone else bring clarity to our thought process as we go forward to the next stage of our business?Niall, your last tip reminded me of something recent I read. There are many small business owners celebrating that they have survived so far. They have been good enough to stay in business despite the difficult economic conditions. And that's great but…what does it take to thrive? It's time to define what is beyond “good enough.”

  • http://www.abilitysuccessgrowth.com/ Elli St.George Godfrey

    As we move from one year to the next, it’s good to stop and assess the basics. Are we connecting with others as we intend? Are the few seconds it takes to listen to someone worth it to us? Could sharing our questions, successes, and failures with someone else bring clarity to our thought process as we go forward to the next stage of our business?

    Niall, your last tip reminded me of something recent I read. There are many small business owners celebrating that they have survived so far. They have been good enough to stay in business despite the difficult economic conditions. And that’s great but…what does it take to thrive? It’s time to define what is beyond “good enough.”

  • http://www.btbtraining.com/blog Niall Devitt

    Hi Elaine, I like the image! Someone said about starting a biz that it will cost twice as much and take twice as long as you first think :) I agree that perseverance and dedication are definitely needed. Continued Success for 2010, Thanks, Niall

  • http://www.btbtraining.com/blog Niall Devitt

    Hi Elli, great comments as always. I take your points about defining what is beyond “good enough.” I will say that many business people and SMEs had to re-invent themselves this year, it's a painful process that often requires significant change. I use an example of one of my clients here that lost 70-80 of its turnover in less than 12 months. To succeed they first had to learn how to survive and then reposition the biz. Repositioning took time and did not give back straight away but ultimately its what will provide the opportunity to grow and thrive next year. Elli It's been lovely to get know you and thanks so much for your super contributions to the Bloggertone community so far. Can I wish you a healthy and successful 2010 and I look forward to getting you over to Ireland in the near future :)

  • http://www.btbtraining.com/blog Niall Devitt

    Hi Elaine, I like the image! Someone said about starting a biz that it will cost twice as much and take twice as long as you first think :) I agree that perseverance and dedication are definitely needed. Continued Success for 2010, Thanks, Niall

  • http://www.btbtraining.com/blog Niall Devitt

    Hi Elli, great comments as always. I take your points about defining what is beyond “good enough.” I will say that many business people and SMEs had to re-invent themselves this year, it’s a painful process that often requires significant change. I use an example of one of my clients here that lost 70-80 of its turnover in less than 12 months. To succeed they first had to learn how to survive and then reposition the biz. Repositioning took time and did not give back straight away but ultimately its what will provide the opportunity to grow and thrive next year. Elli It’s been lovely to get know you and thanks so much for your super contributions to the Bloggertone community . Can I wish you a healthy and successful 2010 and I look forward to getting you over to Ireland in the near future :)

  • ElliStGeorgeGodfrey

    Hi Niall, I've been thinking over the last few days about your point about how painful 2009 has been for quite a number of SME's. It hasn't mattered where you are, it was ugly! Repositioning is tough because you have to evaluate your basic premise and vision and see if they still hold. It cuts right to the small business owner's core. And yet, it doesn't have to be done overnight. It's one step at a time, always building. I'm honoured to be part of the Bloggertone community and look forward to getting over to Ireland soon! I wish you a wonderful, healthy, and successful 2010!

  • Anonymous

    Hi Niall, I’ve been thinking over the last few days about your point about how painful 2009 has been for quite a number of SME’s. It hasn’t mattered where you are, it was ugly! Repositioning is tough because you have to evaluate your basic premise and vision and see if they still hold. It cuts right to the small business owner’s core. And yet, it doesn’t have to be done overnight. It’s one step at a time, always building. I’m honoured to be part of the Bloggertone community and look forward to getting over to Ireland soon! I wish you a wonderful, healthy, and successful 2010!

  • ElliStGeorgeGodfrey

    Hi Niall, I've been thinking over the last few days about your point about how painful 2009 has been for quite a number of SME's. It hasn't mattered where you are, it was ugly! Repositioning is tough because you have to evaluate your basic premise and vision and see if they still hold. It cuts right to the small business owner's core. And yet, it doesn't have to be done overnight. It's one step at a time, always building. I'm honoured to be part of the Bloggertone community and look forward to getting over to Ireland soon! I wish you a wonderful, healthy, and successful 2010!

  • http://www.channelship.ie/ Fred

    Great post Una!
    When I was working in the States, once we were brainstorming ideas for prizes for a group of 100 people (10 teams) I suggested beer kegs and the entire room looked at me like I had just suggested the worst drug. My boss told me that was very inappropriate.
    In 2006 I came to Ireland and landed at Irish Broadband. The first sales contest we had… gave away BEER!
    I took about 10 pictures of that contest and the bottles and made sure to email them to my ex boss. I guess I was not the only mad person after all…

  • http://www.codegaconsulting.com/ Una Coleman

    Thanks Fred. The aim is to break down any barriers to doing business as opposed to sticking obstacles in our way. I’m sure, however, all of us who’ve stepped away from our native shores have some interesting stories to share!

  • http://twitter.com/srLeoSalazar Leo Salazar

    Nice list, Una; short and sweet. The only change I would make would be to move tip #5 to the top of the list . . . and highlight it!

  • http://www.codegaconsulting.com/ Una Coleman

    Groetjes Leo. I notice you are A’dam based. I spent over a decade in Amsterdam working for a direct marekting insurance management agency. It’s nice to make connections with the locals.

  • Anonymous

    Nice post Una. I had big problems with this when I first joined Oracle. My Northern Ireland accent was quite strong, and on conference calls people just couldn’t understand me. With time and plenty of prodding from my Dutch boss, I eventually slowed down, and things became easier.

  • http://www.cgonlinemarketing.com/ Christina Giliberti

    Hello Una,

    Great post and very useful for global business.

    Many stories to tell……please excuse the few foul words!
    My partner was recently at a training session with the LG-Nortel team from Korea and the first thing they all did was swap business cards – all of their ones with both Korean and English translation. Its commonplace there.
    While in discussion, and after many Sujus (Korean drink), one asked my partner ‘Did he b u m ?’ Obviously he was shocked. Apparently its a drinking game where you float one drink in a beer… (?)
    You can guess what he thought…

    Hailing from the southerly end of the UK and quite close to London, I happen to speak a great deal of slang. Those familiar with cockney might recognise ‘It’s the dogs’ , as in – It’s the dogs privates. Translated, it means ‘The best’.
    When we first moved to Cork, the chap next door shouted ‘Anything strange’. I gave him a bemused look and answered ‘Apart from me?’. Needless to say, I know all the main Cork sayings now.
    Up Cork!

  • Liam Lenehan

    Hi Una, Had planned to be on the call but urgent call came in so missed it. Like these tips. Operating in Paris, as you know I do, means being very concsious of formalities. There are endless “tu toi” debates as well as the right way to “bizou” or kiss/exchange greetings. Of course the funniest things happen when you speak the language and assume that an English word, spoken with a French accent, will get your message across but sometimes this can go horribly wrong. For example, recently I asked a French man for his “surname” which in French means nickname (surnom). I should have asked for his “nom de famille”. But as per one of your tips, a smile or sheepish grin will usually rescue the situation. Liam

  • http://www.codegaconsulting.com/ Una Coleman

    Hi Frank, I lost my Cork accent along my journey. While we don’t want to lose what makes us different or unique, in a business context we need to make it easy for people to do business with us.

  • http://www.codegaconsulting.com/ Una Coleman

    Thanks Christina. The one that got me initially when I movd to London was the greeting “You ok?”. ‘Two nations separated by a common language.’

  • http://www.codegaconsulting.com/ Una Coleman

    Hi Liam, thanks for sharing your experiences. France is always seen as one of the harder European markets to crack. It would be great to hear your top tips for cross cultural marketing into the French market – things you have picked up over the last couple of years through your business http://www.parisbynumbers.ie/

  • http://www.seefincoaching.com/blog Elaine Rogers

    Yes, the kissing gets me every time!
    Great post Una, lots of food for thought – or words for thought.

    maybe in the near future we will see a universal language take hold, as business is conducted more all over the world. Alas, maybe then we will need to withdraw emotion, facial expression and body language just so we can be PC.

    Ah the life of business, don’t you just love it? C’est la vie

  • Anonymous

    it happened to me today. I was talking to a colleague today from Romania about a project task, and asked him to “run it by me before the end of the day”. He didn’t have a clue what I was talking about.

  • Anonymous

    Una,

    I’m a bit slow to commenting on this post but it is so important as small businesses all over the world discover that they can have customers anywhere. And Irish slang can be pretty funny. One of my favorite phrases is “your man/woman.” I was completely puzzled by that one the first time I heard it. Like Leo Salazar, I’d move #5 up to the top too. Between when and how to kiss, what to wear, and what to say, finding out what to do by observation can prevent a lot of mistakes. Reminds me of the saying, “when in Rome, do as the Romans do.”

  • http://risk20.wordpress.com/ Eddie

    Una, this is actually a very important topic you bring up. And I think it goes much beyond just language. Cultural differences can be quite stark–everything from body language to the observance of certain holidays. For example, one must take care to avoid scheduling calls on holidays of other cultures. There are so many nuances that are easy to overlook–or simply not know. But we’re in a time of international business, and we increasingly mix with people from a variety of cultures.

    I try hard to avoid colloquialisms when communicating with people from other cultures. This can be a challenge, and is to some degree unfortunate because idioms can add so much color and expressiveness to speech.

    But they can be very much understood, and in the worst cases, offensive. So it’s best to err on the safe side.

  • http://www.codegaconsulting.com/ Una Coleman

    I agree Eddie, we don’t want our communication to become bland. To use a hotel analogy, one can stay in the Mariott all over the world and be assured of a similar level of service but we all like the boutique hotels as well. The differences make the experience richer and it is marrying that with respect and awareness.

  • http://www.codegaconsulting.com/ Una Coleman

    Thanks Elli & Elaine. The kissing greeting gets everyone. In the Netherlands, where I lived for many years, the usual was 3 kisses and some quirky habits such as on birthdays kissing the partner of the birthday person as well the birthday person! More is more I think!
    The point is we can all be a bit more prepared and there is no shortage of information easily available to us. We should see it part of our presentation and pre-meeting preparation: what are the key rules of etquitte in the local country and approach with a little more reserve than you would when on familiar territory. And, something we often forget: while we have a very strong affinity and cultural familiary with the British, Britain is different to Ireland.

  • http://www.codegaconsulting.com/ Una Coleman

    Thanks Elli & Elaine. The kissing greeting gets everyone. In the Netherlands, where I lived for many years, the usual was 3 kisses and some quirky habits such as on birthdays kissing the partner of the birthday person as well the birthday person! More is more I think!
    The point is we can all be a bit more prepared and there is no shortage of information easily available to us. We should see it part of our presentation and pre-meeting preparation: what are the key rules of etquitte in the local country and approach with a little more reserve than you would when on familiar territory. And, something we often forget: while we have a very strong affinity and cultural familiary with the British, Britain is different to Ireland.

  • Anonymous

    Thankfully, my years at Oracle, SAP, Palm Computing and many large corporate environments where I worked in sales, marketing and training, I learned quickly how to interact with people from many cultures. The common sense of observing others first, smiling, and acting reserved saved me many times. I’m also first generation American, so having a Portuguese, Italian/Brazilian background helped too!
    Great article/reminders/tips!

  • http://www.codegaconsulting.com/ Una Coleman

    Hi Ana Lucia, many thanks for your comments. I’m always interested to know how you came across bloggertone and my post

  • http://berendschotanus.com Berend Schotanus

    Hi Una, my own experience with international business meetings is that both parties are aware of cultural differences and willing to bridge the gap. Of course this is in a situation where both parties have an interest. If you want to push your business abroad the need for adaptation will probably lie more on your side.

    I think today there is something like an international business culture: people living in hotel rooms, working on laptops while waiting in an airport terminal for boarding, knowing exactly how to pack their bags in order to fit within hand-luggage regulations. They have their own codes for communicating with each other and their environment. They have money and are a target for commercial marketing as well so you see a lot of adaptation to this new culture that has no geographical bounds but is vibrant nonetheless.

  • http://www.star-ts.com STAR Translation Services

    Hi Una, excellent article on a very important subject.
    This is an area we come across very often in the translation services business. As we deal with clients all over the world you need to be aware of the cultural differences. How you ask for something here in Ireland is not the same way you might ask in Italy. Each culture has its own nuances.

    I remember being trained in Japanese culture for Business Cards. We tend to treat cards lightly – we take the card and put it in our pocket or folder to read later on. However this is a big no-no in Japan.

    Firstly the person has earned their title and position – so giving you their card is giving you a piece of themselves. I would always accept a card with both hand and carefully read the persons name and title – to show respect for the information they have given me.

    Secondly always keep the card in your hand or visible. One of the classic mistakes is putting a business card in your back pocket. You will then sit on the card – and that persons reputation – which is seen as an insult.

    A little trick we used was when we had a number of people in the room we would accept their cards and when I sat down would place the cards in front of me in a position opposite where that person sat. So I had a mini map of who was who. This way to ensure I had a person name right just before I addressed them I would look down to my notebook and read the card in front of that person. I could check their name and as I raised my head I would be immediately facing them and would know their name. Its very simple but shows courtesy and professionalism. You also get everyones name right.

    Damian Scattergood
    STAR Translation Services:
    http://www.star-ts.com
    Confidence in a Translated World.

  • http://risk20.wordpress.com Eddie

    This Mashable post may be of interest to readers here:

    8 Social Media Strategies to Engage Multicultural Consumers
    http://mashable.com/2010/04/21/social-media-multicultural