I am by nature an optimist. For me, challenges create opportunity, and obstacles are just something that require me to be more persistent and creative. However, I am also a realist. You have only to read the paper, turn on the television, or read any economic blog to realize 2012 is going to be no picnic. It is tough out there now, with only a more challenging road ahead.

That’s not to say (I am an optimist after all) that 2012 can’t be your best year on record. I caution you, however, you  need to be prepared. We have tougher times ahead, and it is going to be those businesses, professionals and entrepreneurs that have a plan, build their skills, and understand how to remain flexible that are going to enjoy and succeed in this challenging year.

The statistics for business growth are daunting. Most fail in the first five years, and even fewer ever reach a level of economic security. Stress, anxiety and worry are often the constant companion of the business owner. The good news is, a lot of why you succeed, struggle or fail is under your control. We do have the power to make the decisions and take the steps that ensure we reach our level of success.

Beginning in January of 2012, I am starting my second Business and Sales Mastermind.  This hands on, highly interactive program is designed to get you ready and prepared for business and success in 2012.  As part of this mastermind, we will cover, in depth, the  5 Critical Steps To Business Success.

What are the five steps you need to implement now if you want to be successful in 2012?

1. Strategy – you need a plan. You need a clear vision of where you want your business to be a year from now, and how specifically you plan to get there. What are your goals, what are your strategies, and how will you measure and track? A clear vision and a clear course of action ensures you remain focused, on task and consistently moving your business forward. A tough economy allows no room for wasted energy, time or resources.

2. Marketing/Sales – you need a defined sales and marketing process. Marketing and sales are critical to the success of your business and you need a consistent plan on how you are going to generate new customers, retain existing customers, and build a brand and reputation that increases your referrals. Marketing and sales are the lifeline of your business, and you need to know how you are going to keep the flow of customers and sales consistent.

3. Budget – knowing how much money flows in and out of your business on a monthly basis is only step one of the budgeting process. You need to determine how much money you want and need to make, then design the marketing and sales strategy to support that. A budget gives you a great foundation of understanding the cash flow cycle of your business. From there you want to create a budgeting system, which ensures you pay close attention to the financials of your business.  Each month you need to spend the time and energy on how much money flows into your  business and how much money flows out. Being well informed on the financials of your business, gives you the information and knowledge you need to consistently limit expenses and increase revenues.

4. Systems – repetition and consistency are important to business success. Not sexy but true. Once you have established what is working in your business, you need to systematize your process. How products are made, services are delivered, customers are contacted, and goals and sales are recorded and measured. Systems improve communication, create efficiency and make hiring and training employees/contractors a far easier process.

5. Accountability and Support – it is lonely at the top and business owners need support both to build and maintain their confidence and to keep them focused and accountable. As business owners, we are responsible for everything, so it is easy to get sidetracked and pulled away from our priorities. We also are the person everyone comes to, our employees, our customers and our vendors. Seems everyone needs our energy and our time. By having a coach, a peer group, or a mastermind you can both get the support you need to remain on task and focused, as well as get the motivation you require to run your business.

Following these five steps is a critical piece of your success in 2012! Join us for our Business and Sales Mastermind, beginning October 20, where we will work together to build your 2012 Business Success Strategy.  For more information or to join this mastermind, visit www.motionfirstnow.com or call me 1-888-526-9998.