At last! That stinker of a year, 2008, is finally over! While it turned out to be a reasonably good year for our firm, a lot of professional services firms suffered. If nothing else, the uncertainty and drama of unfolding events throughout the year created an abundant harvest of stress.

Over the holidays, I put some thought toward New Year's resolutions that I would recommend in order to make 2009 a more successful year. Here's what I came up with:

  1. Stop and really listen to what is on your clients' mind. Resolve to have at least two in-depth client interviews each week. What is keeping them up at night? These insights will help you shape your service offerings to better speak to your clients' important pain points. When the pressure is on, improving your ability to speak to client needs becomes even more important.
  2. My second recommendation is to have a well defined marketing plan. It doesn't have to be perfect — just specific. Our research shows that high-growth firms are much more likely to work from a plan. Having a specific plan guides your efforts and forces you to confront the fact that you aren't meeting your marketing goals if you let them slip.
  3. Measure the impact of all your marketing activities. Do they speak to real client needs? Are they producing the desired results? Yes, it's hard work, but the inevitable impact is that your marketing plan will evolve and improve over time. Your less than perfect plan will get better and better.

These New Year's resolutions may not help you shed the 20 pounds you'd like to lose, but I can guarantee that they will have a positive effect on the health of your business.