TBS PicWe all want to see our businesses prosper in the New Year. We want our products and services to become more relevant. We want to reduce turnover, reduce our need for capital, and see our people more engaged and empowered. We want to reduce costs and increase profitability. But where do we start?

This year we have been asked for our top 5 New Year’s resolutions to improve any business. Since it’s easier to shake the tree from the top, we’ll start with the boss. If that is you, your attitude toward business relationships will make all the difference. Here are the top 5 resolutions that will improve your business for 2015 and beyond:

1. Resolve to treat your employees like owners. If you want your people to act more entrepreneurial, treat them like owners. To make sure they know where the money comes from – the customer – show them a “money map.” Make sure they know that everybody not in sales is in sales support by making their bonuses dependent on sales. Let them know-the-need instead of only what you think they need to know. Give them written appreciation acknowledging a job well done, and copy it to your entire team.

2. Resolve to treat your customers like family. You wouldn’t want to offer inferior products or service to your own family. If you were selling to your grandmother, you would deliver 110%. You would listen, and then adjust your product/service and it’s delivery to her feedback. You would honor your commitments to your family and exceed their expectations. You would want to make them happy and do whatever you could to please them. Do the same for your customers.

3. Resolve to treat your vendors like partners. They’re not just salespeople selling you services and supplies. They are strategic allies who benefit when you benefit. They want to see you succeed, because your success means they can sell more to you. Don’t blind-side them when you can’t pay your bill – give them a heads-up in advance so they have time to make adjustments. Generally, all they need to increase your credit is trust in you.

4. Resolve to treat your financiers like friends. Meet with them regularly. Tell them everything, not just the achievements and goals, but also the challenges. Look to them for advice. Make them feel like they are part of your company, and they will surprise you with their support. They can lengthen your terms, reduce your interest and give you timely short-term loans to help you through the tight spots and underwrite your growth. Few of their debtors really level with them and your transparency can give them the confidence they need to make exceptions and bend the rules in your favor.

5. Resolve to treat your competitors like mentors. Instead of looking at your competitors as adversaries, study them and learn from them. Notice where they are missing the market, and where they are capturing it. Take note of where they are becoming less relevant and don’t jump over that cliff with them. Zig when they zag. And especially if you are starting out, sell where they are not. Don’t try to copy them or you will make the same mistakes. Don’t compete, distinguish.

New Years is merely a celebration about the passage of time, but you can transform it into something more meaningful. Make and keep these resolutions and you will transform your key relationships. After all, it is our relationships with others that we rely on for our success.

Happy New Year everyone!

Who We Are

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey Barefoot Wine Founders

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey co-authored the New York Times bestselling business book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand. The book has been selected as recommended reading in the CEO Library for CEO Forum, the C-Suite Book Club, and numerous university classes on business and entrepreneurship. It chronicles their humble beginnings from the laundry room of a rented Sonoma County farmhouse to the board room of E&J Gallo, who ultimately acquired their brand and engaged them as brand consultants. Barefoot is now the world’s largest wine brand.

Beginning with virtually no money and no wine industry experience, they employed innovative ideas to overcome obstacles, create new markets and forge strategic alliances. They pioneered Worthy Cause Marketing and performance-based compensation. They built an internationally bestselling brand and received their industry’s “Hot Brand” award for several consecutive years.

They offer their Guiding Principles for Success (GPS) to help entrepreneurs become successful. Their book, The Entrepreneurial Culture: 23 Ways To Engage and Empower Your People, helps corporations maximize the value of their human resources.

Currently they travel the world leading workshops, trainings, & keynoting at business schools, corporations, conferences. They are regular media guests and contributors to international publications and professional journals. They are C-Suite Network Advisors & Contributing Editors. Visit their popular brand building site at www.consumerbrandbuilders.com.

To make inquiries for keynote speaking, trainings or consulting, please contact sales@thebarefootspirit.com.