It's 2012. The Mayans say it will be the end of the world. I say it will be the start of your best year yet, but don't take my word for it. Take action. Make a list of resolutions for the coming year to ensure it's better than the last, if not better than the one that will follow. Here are some key resolutions to consider:

FINANCIAL. Nothing works well when finances are bad. Unfortunately, most contractors know more about turning a wrench than turning a profit. In 2012, resolve to:

  • Price for double digit profitability and charge customers fixed, up-front prices
  • Collect for service/repair work when service is performed
  • Establish clearly written company goals for 2012 and the next five years
  • Watch your cash flow because cash is king
  • Establish a line of credit and use it from time-to-time
  • Prepare monthly financial statements
  • Calculate the cost of customer acquisition and retention
  • Plan your exit strategy.

MANAGEMENT. If your company can't function without you, you don't own a business, you own a job. Build an organization that can do more than you could on your own. In 2012, resolve to do the following:

  • Write a company mission statement
  • Create business metrics and measure performance
  • Hold people accountable and pay for performance
  • Create a co-worker handbook
  • Make your company a great place to work
  • Set stretch goals, then train, train, and train some more
  • Have fun
  • Give every employee a title and business card
  • Hire someone capable of replacing yourself
  • Conduct background and drug tests on all new hires
  • Share your (financial) success with those who created it
  • Praise a co-worker each day and celebrate victories.

MARKETING. Marketing is where the rubber meets the road. Get and keep customers and the leads will follow. Get the leads and the sales will follow. In 2012, resolve to:

  • Be aggressive and grow, regardless of the economy or competition
  • Increase your active customer base by at least 10%
  • Offer service agreements, billed monthly
  • Join at least one professional industry association
  • Create a unique selling proposition
  • Start an affinity marketing program
  • Create a personal Facebook account and company Facebook page and spend one hour per day on social media
  • Market your company brand above all others
  • Require technicians to put out doorhangers after every service call
  • Create a Google Places page and start tweeting
  • Create a company website
  • Create a Linked-In account
  • Market from your truck ID program
  • Mail a newsletter to customers each quarter
  • Start an e-mail marketing program
  • Attend two networking functions each week (e.g., service clubs, alumni groups, networking groups)
  • Start a search engine marketing campaign, like AdWords.

PERSONAL. Mark Matteson says you’ll be the same person in a year, except for the people you meet and the books you read. Be a better person next year —in 2012, resolve to:

  • Speak less, ask questions and listen more
  • Try something new quarterly
  • Count your blessings at the start of every day
  • Focus on the positive at the end of every day
  • Listen to podcasts or audiobooks
  • Visit contractors in different cities
  • Read Contracting Business.com magazine each month
  • Read a non-fiction book every month
  • Attend at least two seminars per year and make one HVAC Comfortech at Mechanical Systems Week in Chicago, this September
  • Subscribe to Comanche Marketing.

FAMILY AND COMMUNITY. Everyone recognizes that family and community are important. Unfortunately, the needs of the business are often more urgent. Don’t forget what’s important. In 2012, resolve to:

  • Take a family vacation
  • Give back to your communities: professional, personal, charitable
  • Perform at least one pro bono job per quarter
  • Get an annual checkup and exercise regularly
  • Eat a more balanced diet and stop smoking or dipping
  • Remember that the business is primarily a vehicle to provide for your family.

Matt Michel is the CEO of Service Nation Inc., which operates the Service Roundtable, Retail Contractor Coalition, and Service Nation Alliance. According to Matt, these can help your achieve all of your resolutions. Call 877/262-3341 to learn how. Call by February 12, 2012, and you can try the Service Roundtable for one month for $12. That’s a 76% savings!