Seems like New Year 's Day all over again, except with more school buses.
So I thought it would be a good time to look at some fundamentals - the four big things that make the difference between success and just grinding along.
As the economy in much of the world continues to struggle, these fundamentals are becoming increasingly important because getting the basics done right is more critical than ever.
These fundamentals are practiced by our most successful clients. Indeed, by the most successful business people anywhere.
1. Long-term perspective and relationships
The reason so many people fail to achieve their objectives is because they don't look far enough into the future.
Ever heard of the marshmallow test? It was successfully used by psychologists to predict how well a child will do in life.
A four-year-old child is given the option take one marshmallow now or to sit and wait for 20 minutes, after which they will get two marshmallows.
Studies that followed the fortunes of these children found that those who had patience did much better as they progressed through childhood.
I've noticed that many business people are like the one-marshmallow child. They only do things that bring them immediate results.
The trouble with that, however, is that they are forfeiting much greater results in the future because they're not building a foundation that will generate long-term success.
My most successful clients have focused on building long-term relationships with clients. To do so, they've created a structure and strategy for their business that puts the emphasis on these relationships rather than the quick-hit sale.
Some of them have been sending out newsletters for years - many writing the content themselves before finding me. They continue to send out newsletters, month-in, month-out.
Others are just starting out, but are building a structure for their business that will create long-term relationships. They are collecting contact information. They are providing value. They are keeping in touch.
On the other hand, I see people who are looking for the next quick fix - the magic tool that will bring them a flood of business, with little effort on their part.
These people go from one magic trick to the next, never building a business with a strong foundation.
Long-term thinking beats short-term thinking every time.
2. Time working "on" your business
Of course, to be able to think long-term, you need to do the things that will generate long-term relationships.
The trouble is, many of those things don't bring immediate benefits - you don't see quick results.
So what happens instead is that people spend time working on the minutiae of daily business - servicing clients and fulfilling products. They're working "in" the businesses.
The most successful people I see are able to carve out some time to work "on" their businesses.
Maybe you can only find half a day per week, but it pays to spend that time doing things that set your business up for the long term. That might include activities that build long-term relationships with clients. Or you might think of systems that make your business run more smoothly.
It might also mean finding time to actually send out your newsletter.
3. Successful delegation
If you want to find time to work "on" your business, you might consider delegating some of the routine tasks to someone else.
Here's the thing: many of the routine tasks are "below your pay grade" - they can be done by someone for a lower fee than you would charge for what you do best.
So, every hour you spend on one of these tasks you are, in effect, losing money - because you are not earning as much as you could be earning.
The successful people I know have built themselves a team of people and vendors to whom they can outsource these routine tasks. It doesn't mean you have to go hire someone full-time - you just have to find the right people or the right organization for each job.
4. Regular communication
If you want to build relationships with clients over the long term, you need to communicate with them over the long term.
After all, any relationship without regular communication withers, none more so than a business relationship, with so many competitors tugging at your clients' purse strings.
The most successful businesses I know have developed a regular communications strategy for prospects as well as clients. As soon as a prospect comes into that business's orbit, they receive useful, relevant information on a regular basis.
These businesses use a variety of communication channels: email, print, social media...even personal phone calls, if the spending potential of the client is high enough.
When you are regularly in touch with your clients by providing useful information that makes their lives better, there's little reason for those clients to go anywhere else.
That's how a business stays in business for the long term.
Marshmallow picture by Gary Knight.