Happy New Year!

Every year I take time off during the holidays to decompress and look forward to the year ahead. It's something my children have looked forward to for years and it's just what I need after the final push towards the end of the year.

It's always a good time to renew relationships, continue family traditions and decide where I need to focus my energy in the new year. So, I wake up early in the morning before the rest of the family and spend some quiet time reflecting on what I want to be when I grow up.

Goal Setting

I guess some might characterize this as setting New Year's Resolutions, but it's much more than that for me. I'm a workaholic by nature, so it's important for me as a businesswoman to make a conscious effort at setting aside time for family, personal and professional development. Here's what I do to make sure I don't miss the priceless things in life.

Write Them Down. I write down 1-3 family, physical, spiritual, financial, relationship, and educational goals. There's no magic number or category. It just depends on what areas need the most attention and what I believe to be achievable. Once written, I keep a list of these goals in my purse, on my desktop and in my task list.

Make Specific Goals. If my goal is to complete a professional development course, I register and pay for the course during my goal setting time. It's difficult to back out of a commitment once there's been a financial investment. Instead of saying I'm going to take better care of myself, I commit to scheduling an appoint with a physician by a specific date.

Set Realistic Deadlines. I use my calendar to come up with realistic time lines and commit to actual start and end dates. I rearrange my schedule where necessary and add the appointments directly into my calendar. I'm less likely to miss my daughter's basketball game if I have it on my schedule.

Inspect What You Expect. As often as possible, and preferably once a day, I review my goals. It's like creating top of mind awareness for my goals! It might sound like a lot of work, but since I have them written down in several convenient places that makes review time pretty easy.

Share. If I tell someone else what I'm planning on accomplishing, I'm much more likely to succeed. A fellow female entrepreneur and I have committed to holding one another accountable by checking in and checking up on our progress on a regular basis. We've already started encouraging one another to stay the course.

Best wishes for a prosperous New Year!

2008 Business Trends

I’ve often been asked how I was able to start a consulting business on the heels of the dot-com bust when other consulting companies were licking their wounds. The year 2000 had been a year of turbulence in the information technology arena. For once the IT folks had done something right and avoided a major catastrophe - but that success came with a price.

You see, IT companies had raised their pricing in anticipation of the year 2000 crisis and weren't willing to lower the prices once the crisis had been avoided. Corporations felt they had been raked over the coals during the lead up to the year 2000 and were pushing back. The telecom industry and the dot-coms went bust. Corporations around the world started downsizing the gluttonous IT staff they had built leading up to the year 2000. Hardware and software maintenance contracts were being slashed or canceled.

It was in the midst of these trends that I made the decision to start my company. I had generated and/or managed upwards of $40 million in professional services business. Through it all, my direct reports kept asking me to start my own company so they could come to work for me. I was being offered independent contracting opportunities. Others began telling me that they would do business with me if I started a company. So it was with a great business idea, market analysis and a sound business plan that I started my journey.

If you've thought about starting a business but just aren't sure whether there's a market for your product or service, check out this article in Entrepreneur Magazine on Hot Trends in 2008. They've compiled a list of the hottest industries, trends and business ideas for 2008. Perhaps there's one that fits your style!