It's that wonderful time of year--budget time. Everyone is knee-deep into their budgets for 2010. (If you are not, shame on you.)
It's been a rough ride for entrepreneurs the last few years, budgets that would normally see a scalpel over the years have gotten the machete treatment lately. It's easy to start cutting, but there are certain line items that should never be cut if you are serious about building a quality business in the future. I speak from experience because I've mistakenly cut these areas and suffered the consequences.
1. Employee Recognition Programs. Maybe it's a birthday lunch, birthday gift, a fruit basket after a job well done....whatever, keep it. Employee recognition is the No. 1 motivator for employees. They are your most important asset.
2. Employee Pay. There is nothing worse than working hard and coming home with less pay than the year before. Sometimes it is essential when business is slow, but it should be a last resort. If you suddenly cut your prices, for example, you send a message to clients that you were either overcharging them or your service doesn't have as much value anymore. Are those messages you want to send to employees?
3. Technology. Technology is a great equalizer for businesses. The right CRM software, for example, can save hours out of your week. Find a new technology every 6 months that will make your more efficient.
4. Fun. Whether it is a happy hour or a bowling outing or a Christmas dinner, work has to remain fun, especially during economic downtimes. Maintain the fun.
--Ron Ameln, SBM