By Gerard Burke, Founder And MD, Your Business Your Future

As we approach the close of the year, here at Your Business Your Future, we’ve been reflecting on how our business has developed in 2011 and how to continue our growth in 2012.

We’ve come up with a checklist of 12 areas we’re going to focus on next year, and in the spirit of our mission – to help ambitious owner managers create the future they want for their businesses and for themselves – we’re delighted to share that list with you!

1. Know what YOU want in 2012: what do you want to achieve personally from your business next year? Including, how much reward do you want from the business (both financial and other types of reward), what role do you want to be doing, how much of your own time and energy do you want to be putting into the business, what things do you want to achieve and protect outside your business?

2. Start with the end in mind: do you know where you want your business to be by the end of 2012? Have your clearly articulated your goals and targets to your team?

3. What gets measured, gets done: are you and your team focused on a few key metrics for next year? Do you review your progress regularly?

4. Assume nothing: when did you last challenge your assumptions about how your market and customers behave? When did you last talk to your customers about what’s going on in their world?

5. Be distinctive: are you confident about the distinctive benefits your products/services bring to your customers? Have you articulated these distinctive benefits clearly in all your marketing messages?

6. Mind your margin: do you have a clear plan to maintain and, if possible, increase your profits in 2012?

7. Focus on cash: do you have a clear and regular view of your cash position? Can you anticipate when you might need additional financing and where you might get it from?

8. Deliver through great people: are you recruiting the best people you can afford? And are you engaging them in the vision for your business and rewarding their contribution appropriately?

9. Develop your team: are you enabling and helping your management team to do the best possible job for you?

10. Create space to be a strategist: do you dedicate enough time to working ON your business as well as IN it? How can you ensure you lift your head up from the day to day running of the business and regularly look forward and outwards?

11. Be the best you can be: how will you keep yourself at the peak of performance, maintaining your passion, energy and focus through 2012? Are you a potential barrier to, as well as the biggest enabler of, growth in your business? How will you develop yourself so that you become the leader your business needs you to be?

12. Be a Victor, not a Victim: what do you do when things don’t go quite as you’d hoped? Victims blame outside factors or other people so as to maintain their innocence. And, the price of innocence is impotence – if it’s nothing to do with you, then you can’t put it right. Victors see themselves as integral to the system or process that created the unwanted result and know that they are in absolute control of their own actions, decisions and behaviours. They take “response-ability” - retaining the ability to respond.

Do let us know which of these resonate for you – or if there’s anything you’d add.