The Year Ahead, and the State of Your Company

By Rick Bell Wednesday, January 4, 2012

If you are already a successful entrepreneur, you’re a planner. So you’ve already done a lot of thinking about surviving and succeeding in 2012.  How do you plan for your business to survive and succeed in 2012?

At this time last year I told the whole team here at HBS, that I could not argue with the economic facts that point to a massive global economic train-wreck in our future, but I was not convinced that it will happen in 2011, and would not, therefore, use the doom-and-gloom scenario as an excuse to freeze salaries or benefits, as we were forced to do in 2009 when sales fell 25% when the economy “contracted.”

In fact, we had had a good year in 2010 and I wanted to reward each of them, whom I consider my best friends, for their performance, expertise, dedication and customer friendliness, which largely accounted for our success.

So I gave everybody a raise, and told them, if times get tough, we will all be on the same train and we will all ride it uphill and downhill together. And that’s the way it will be.

That’s how I planned to be successful in 2011. It worked. That set the tone for 2011. Instead of concentrating on the negative, like the news did, we all pitched in to make the company and our service more perfect, so we could better serve our current clients and win a greater share of the potential customers out there. We also concentrated on outperforming our competitors in terms of the client experience by improving on hundreds of details on all levels of the business. We weren’t trying to re-invent ourselves, just improve upon what we already do well, to set the bar higher for excellence in our tiny industry of Company Formation Services.

Every year, for 30 years, I’ve done this. I plan for greater success every year by consistently improving every aspect of the company, and getting everyone involved in the details.

We invested in making our information and services available across the whole spectrum of the web including social media, mobile devices and notebooks. We set up an active Facebook page, and a Twitter account, and produced 13 videos to walk clients through every question and quandary when it comes to forming a Delaware LLC or Corporation. We will soon be QR coding your invoices so you can access your account, and pay your Franchise Tax and Registered Agent fee in less than a minute! Poof! If compliance can be made simple, we will make it so simple for you.

If you have a smart phone, try our mobile site. Just go to the same url,, and it will recognize your phone and give you the “Wham Bam Thank You Mama” version of our info.

But I have to admit, in 2011, we were very lucky. Despite the economic reality we all faced, more people wanted to form new companies and when we asked them why they wanted to start fresh at a time like this, many of them totally dismissed the notion that times are tough and said, ”because this is the time.” And they are right.

I started Harvard Business Services, Inc. in 1981 when the economy was equally depressed. But the U.S.A is not a depressed nation and we always prevail over economic challenges. Americans love a challenge. Americans love to work and to be the best at what they do. Americans are also innovative, and free to innovate, which is our big advantage.

2012 is an election year. What policies will govern the country in 2013 and beyond? The voters will decide that. This year, it is more important than ever, that you vote. In the U.S.A, voters determine the future, not the politicians.

What Our Clients Want: When I talk to our clients, nobody cares what the dollar will be worth, or what gold will be worth or what the interest rate will be on treasury bills. Really, they don’t care. Do you?

What people we talk to care about is activity in the marketplace. When are the buyers going to make a comeback and start calling again? Let’s get the phones ringing, let’s get the sales folks showing people properties, let’s get the customers making offers, and deals, and buying things. Let’s get the banks making swift and easy loans again. Let’s get this economy rockin’! That’s what we’re they’re saying.

So, my advice for 2012, which is free advice and worth every penny of what you pay for it, but no more, is to invest in yourself. Invest in your company no matter how small or how large it is. Pour your money back into your own company’s infrastructure and environment and security. Invest in your people. Raise their level of education and their standard of living and challenge them to do more.  And they will. Build an emergency operation center to avoid shutting down if one strikes. Plan for the train wreck, even if it doesn’t happen.

Plan ahead and Go Ahead: By all means, if you’re just starting out, you should know that you’ve picked the very best time in recent history, in my opinion, to start your own company. Survival will determine the fittest but in these uncertain times, start-up companies with dedicated sensible owners often have the advantage over established companies with good balance sheets.

Opportunity is alive and well here in America. Go for it! Make 2012 your year to form a company.

*Disclaimer*: Harvard Business Services, Inc. is neither a law firm nor an accounting firm and, even in cases where the author is an attorney, or a tax professional, nothing in this article constitutes legal or tax advice. This article provides general commentary on, and analysis of, the subject addressed. We strongly advise that you consult an attorney or tax professional to receive legal or tax guidance tailored to your specific circumstances. Any action taken or not taken based on this article is at your own risk. If an article cites or provides a link to third-party sources or websites, Harvard Business Services, Inc. is not responsible for and makes no representations regarding such source’s content or accuracy. Opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Harvard Business Services, Inc.

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