Borrowed advice

It’s that time of year again to make New Year’s resolutions. If this isn’t a tradition you follow, you may want to reconsider.

And what better time could there be to set new goals than the start of the new millennium? (No, that wasn’t last year.)

Consider this: Research shows that those who make New Year’s resolutions are far more likely to achieve those goals that those who don’t. So, what do you have to lose?

Here are some ideas I’ve borrowed from the many businesspeople SBN‘s editorial staff spoke to over the past year:

1.) Lose weight. In November, Twinsburg-based PlanSoft, one of the area’s most prominent Web companies, laid off 40 employees. The company cut its staff to turn a profit after investors started to grumble.

A sign of another dot-com in trouble or a smart business move that could serve as an example to businesses in all industries? You decide.

2.) Jump out of a plane. That’s what Don Taylor, owner of Welty Building Co. in Akron, did when he agreed to take on the renovation of Portage Country Club. He knew the project would either help or destroy the reputation of the company he had just taken over. His work was scrutinized by 600 of Akron’s most prominent citizens during the months his crew worked on the project.

The outcome? The country club’s membership loved the work. And, it was done within budget. The project was risky, yes. But Taylor will tell you he’d do it all over again. In less than a year, he gained 600 new fans. Business has never been better.

3. Take a vacation. In October, Lee DiCola, chairman of Galt Industries in Canton, did just that when he took a sabbatical from his job and traveled to Burma, Cambodia, India and Egypt (among other locales) with his wife. Can you think of a better way to refresh a high-pressure position?

4. Buy that diamond you always wanted. Heck, give me a few. That’s how Sterling Jewelers (based in Fairlawn) grew to $1 billion in sales. The company owns a diverse group of jewelry stores that appeal to just about every customer profile. If you’re not a Roger’s customer, you probably shop at Osterman. Or Jared. Or Kay …

5. Forget about the money for once. Linda Smithers, owner of Susan’s Coffee & Tea (with locations in Akron, Canton and Massillon), sold her company to an investment firm last year, then bought it back when she suspected the company was sacrificing quality to save money.

Her story showed us that very few decisions are as permanent as they may appear at the onset. While the jury’s still out, Smithers insists that profits can be maintained by prioritizing quality, not sacrificing it. Connie Swenson ([email protected]) is editor of SBN Magazine.