The beginning of a new year is the perfect time for entrepreneurs to reevaluate their business strategies for the year and to tweak solutions to maximize profits and opportunities. There are a laundry list of things to do, but putting these at the top of your list can give you a great start to a productive new year. Executive Director of the Center for Urban Entrepreneurship and Economic Development Lyneir Richardson lays out this to-do list for us.

1. 100-Day Plan.

The 100-day plan has become a tradition for newly elected American Presidents. The plan consists of achievable short term goals that adhere to a President’s long term vision for the country. Entrepreneurs should write their own 100 day plans as blueprints for advancing their organization’s productivity and profitability. Such a plan establishes 100 tasks, and requires business owners to consider the specific steps and resources that are needed to bring them to fruition. While there’s a time and place for visionary long term planning, the 100-day plan allows entrepreneurs to craft and pursue attainable objectives and start the year off with a burst of energy. When the 100-day finish line is reached mid-April, entrepreneurs will know if they should be celebrating or if they need to recalibrate their efforts.

2. Declutter
Whether you want to improve the feng shui of your office or just make it easier to find and store your stuff, a comprehensive tidy up of your company’s work space is a laborious yet necessary task. To make it happen, set aside a Saturday when your team can come in, rent a dumpster and high capacity paper shredder, and destroy unnecessary documents, presentations and files, and toss out old equipment, brochures, books, product samples, and other unproductive items. Once your space has been tightened and tidied, implement a cloud-based backup system that allows for fast and convenient recovery of your organization’s electronic files. The decluttering will not only allow your team to operate more efficiently, it will also help your office to look more streamlined and professional.

3. Fire the person you know you have to fire.

Maybe you’ve tried to intervene to help turn things around, or you’ve ignored the problem in hopes that it would eventually take care of itself. But however you’ve handled the challenge of having weak members on your team, you know that they’re there and that they’re dangerous the to the health of your company. If you didn’t have the heart to do any purging during the holiday season, delay no longer. The costs to your firm in reduced productivity, low employee morale, additional supervision, damaged client relationships, and lost revenue that are caused by substandard employees can be as high as $190,000 per year, so make a decision now to either remedy a situation that’s fixable — or to clean house.

4. Get high or higher.
While 26 states and the District of Columbia have laws legalizing marijuana, the suggestion here isn’t that entrepreneurs should light up more. Instead, the first week of the new year is a perfect time to review and possibly raise the prices of your products or services. Too many small business owners try to compete by lowering their prices, and that’s often a mistake. Instead, devise a plan by studying your competitive landscape; looking at your firm’s pricing history; reviewing the calendar to determine the best time to bump up your rate, fees, or prices; and thinking about how you can enhance the value of your offerings in order to justify price revisions. If you detect some white space that would allow for small yet profitable increases, you should absolutely seize it.

After the joy and frenzy of the holidays, it’s understandable if it takes a minute for business owners to snap back to attention and keep their ships moving forward, but the upside to getting started is significant. Entrepreneurs who have the discipline to leverage these four steps as an annual early January organizational “reboot” will help to energize their teams, inspire exciting ideas, and generate new opportunities for innovation and growth.

Whether you’re an undergraduate contemplating staying in higher education or a professional considering a return to study, if you’re thinking about postgraduate study then you’re not alone. The last five years have seen more students jostling for places on postgraduate courses than ever before. Given the turbulent nature of our economy and our challenging job market this means that it’s more important than ever to be sure that the postgraduate experience is the right choice for you. For many, it can be a stepping-stone to a dream job, but there are no guarantees. It may sound obvious, but probably the best reason for taking the postgraduate plunge is because you are genuinely stimulated by academic study – there’s little point otherwise.

While a postgraduate qualification can be intellectually satisfying, there is no guarantee that it will improve your employment prospects: it is worth noting that the gradireland Graduate Salary and Graduate Recruitment Trends Survey 2013 points to recruiters largely favouring work experience over fourth-level study. This means you need to consider carefully whether your degree will give you the employability skills you need. Some postgraduate qualifications may offer professional recognition or exemption from professional exams. For some professions – for example law, accountancy, teaching, medicine and academia – further study is essential (see page 10 for more on conversion courses), while in other areas, such as journalism, politics and economics, it can give you a valuable head start. In other areas, postgraduate study can add a more specialised dimension to your undergraduate degree. For example, a business and finance degree followed by postgraduate study in accounting, or a chemistry degree followed by a masters in biomedical science show a clear development of academic interest.

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