12 Simple Questions To Help Make 2011 Your Best Year Ever
  by Donald Cooper

Now’s the time to plan and implement strategies to make 2011 your best year ever.

     Sit down with a few of the best minds and hearts in your business, and invest an hour or so to answer these 12 simple questions. If you’re a one-person operation, you’re “it,” so just sit with yourself and go to it.

     Note: These questions are simple, but coming up with answers to some of them might not be. Where necessary, allocate homework and research assignments to members of your staff to gather any necessary information.

  1. What amount of profit must we generate in 2011 to keep us financially healthy and reward us adequately for our time, effort and investment in the business?

  2. What are the three most important things we need to do to improve or grow our business in order to achieve our profit goal?

  3. What are three things we do (or three policies we have) that tick off our customers, and what will we do to eliminate them?

  4. What additional products or services would make us more helpful and valuable to our customers, and how can we profitably add them to our existing offerings?

  5. What are three important things that any of our competitors do better than us, and what can we do to make ourselves better than them?

  6. What are three extraordinary things that we could do to make doing business with us not all about price? What functional or emotional value could we create, or what extraordinary service could we add, that would “grab” our customers and prospects, and fundamentally change the game? What could we do that has never been done before by a retail florist (or whatever kind of business you have) in our community that would blow away our customers and prospects?

  7. We are what we communicate, so what three gutsy things will we do in 2011 to more effectively promote our business and communicate our total value offering?

(Retailers, check out the Society of American Florists’ [SAF] public-relations efforts in the “Industry Promotion” section at as well as the Flower Promotion Organization’s [FPO] website,, especially the “For Retailers,” “Flowers at Work” and “Flowers in the Classroom” sections, to find a variety of value messages about flowers that you can communicate to consumers.)

  1. What are the three expense items on which we can save the most money in 2011, and how, specifically, will we achieve those savings?

  2. What are three things we can do to become “greener” in 2011 and beyond?

  3. What are three things we can do to improve internal communication and improve clarity about our commitments to customers, each other and the bottom line?

  4. What is the most important new technology we need to bring into our business in 2011?

  5. We can’t grow our business without growing our people. What training, development or mentoring does each person on our staff need to help grow the business, serve customers more wonderfully and operate more effectively?

There you have it — 12 questions to get you thinking about how to make 2011 your best year ever.

     To make each idea you come up with happen, be clear about 1) who will do what, 2) when each person must have it done by and 3) how progress will be measured.

     Failure to implement effectively is one of the biggest challenges in most businesses today. Remember: “Businesses do not die from a single shot to the head; they die, slowly but surely, from a thousand uncompleted tasks.”

Reprinted with permission from The Donald Cooper Corporation “Business Management Newsletter,” November 2010.

Donald Cooper is an internationally known business coach and speaker who works with businesses on marketing, service and business excellence. Drawing on his experience as an award-winning manufacturer and retailer, he has helped thousands of companies in dozens of industries throughout the world redefine and reinvent their businesses.

For information on how Mr. Cooper can help your business sell more; manage smarter; grow your bottom line; and create, deliver and communicate value, visit, e-mail or call (416) 252-3704.

To subscribe to Mr. Cooper’s free monthly e-mail “Business Management Newsletter,” e-mail, or visit

To access free articles on marketing and management, visit, and click on the “Free Articles” button.

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