365 Ways to Improve 2009

The end of the year is a time of rejuvenation and a time to make small adjustments to improve both your business and personal life. Here are 365 ideas to set you in the right direction to make 2009 the best year ever!


    Time Management
  1. Check e-mail on a schedule.

  2. Learn to effectively delegate.

  3. Find out when you work best.

  4. Establish routines and stick to them.

  5. Bookmark frequently used websites.

  6. Set goals.

  7. Determine where you’re wasting time.

  8. The early bird gets the worm.

  9. Prioritize your tasks for the day.

  10. Break big tasks into smaller ones.

  11. Limit distractions during big projects.

  12. Balance your activities.

  13. Write down good ideas.

  14. Break away from the habit of multitasking.

  15. Take a short break when needed.

  16. Make sure you get enough sleep each night.

  17. Work on tasks you don’t want to do first.

  18. Use e-mail whenever possible.

  19. Trust your own judgement.

  20. Take your time so things are done right the first time.


  21. Stress
  22. Sit up straight.

  23. Remember to laugh.

  24. Learn to let go.

  25. Listen to relaxing music on the way to work.

  26. Take deep breaths.

  27. Leave work at work.

  28. Get a massage.

  29. Find a hobby.

  30. Stretch your fingers, wrists, neck and lower back.

  31. Take a walk.

  32. Find people to talk to.

  33. Know your limitations.

  34. Express your feelings.

  35. Be willing to compromise.

  36. Do something you enjoy everyday.

  37. Curl up with a good book.

  38. Write in a journal.

  39. Do something for someone else.

  40. Spend time in nature.

  41. Consider counseling.

  42. Tap into your spirituality.


  43. Sleep
  44. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day.

  45. Limit your caffeine and nicotine intake.

  46. Exercise regularly.

  47. Start a regular, relaxing bedtime routine.

  48. Sleep in a dark, quiet, and cool room.

  49. Buy the right mattress.

  50. Avoid eating or drinking before bedtime.

  51. Keep your room tidy.

  52. Go to bed when you’re tired.

  53. Use sleeping pills only as a last resort.

  54. Avoid taking naps if possible.

  55. Keep pets off the bed.

  56. Make sure sleeping attire is comfortable and not too tight.

  57. Your mattress shouldn’t sag.

  58. Don’t tuck sheets in too tight at the bottom of the bed.

  59. Listen to relaxing music before bed.

  60. If you watch TV before bed, make it something light, like a comedy.


  61. Books
  62. “The Best Business Books Ever: The Most Influential Business Books You’ll Never Have Time to Read” by the Editors of Perseus Publishing

  63. “The Big Book of Small Business: You Don’t Have to Run Your Business by the Seat of Your Pants” by Tom Gegax and Phil Bolsta

  64. “The Little Book of Business Wisdom: Rules of Success from More than Business Legends” by Peter Krass

  65. “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don’t” by Jim Collins

  66. “Business By The Book: Complete Guide of Biblical Principles for the Workplace” by Larry Burkett

  67. “Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done” by Larry Bossidy, Ram Charan, and Charles Burck

  68. “Business, Second Edition: The Ultimate Resource” by Basic Books

  69. “The Whole Brain Business Book” by Ned Herrmann

  70. “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful” by Marshall Goldsmith and Mark Reiter

  71. “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable” by Patrick M. Lencioni

  72. “First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently” by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman

  73. “The Complete Book of Business Plans, 2nd edition: Simple Steps to Writing Powerful Business Plans” by Joseph A. Covello

  74. “Business Golf - Golf Books” by Golf Smart

  75. “The Big Idea: How to Make Your Entrepreneurial Dreams Come True, from the Aha Moment to Your First Million” by Donny Deutsch

  76. “Understanding Enterprise: Entrepreneurship and Small Business” by Simon Bridge

  77. “The Knack: How Street-Smart Entrepreneurs Learn to Handle Whatever Comes Up” by Bo Burlingham

  78. “New Venture Creation: Entrepreneurship for the 21st Century” by Jeffry A. Timmons

  79. “The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything” by Guy Kawasaki

  80. “Boss of You: Everything A Woman Needs to Know to Start, Run, and Maintain Her Own Business” by Emira Mears

  81. “Entrepreneurial Finance” by Philip J. Adelman

  82. “The One Minute Entrepreneur: The Secret to Creating and Sustaining a Successful Business” by Ken Blanchard, Don Hutson, Ethan Willis


  83. Gadgets
  84. Schwinn Electric Tailwind Bicycle

  85. Swann MovieStick

  86. Periscope Lighted Folio for the Amazon Kindle

  87. Sourcing Map Retro TV Game Show Alarm Clock

  88. Phonak Audeo earphones

  89. Toshiba TLP-X200U wireless projector

  90. Seeker, GPS-based vehicle recovery and tracking device.

  91. TrickleStar PC Standby Power Saver

  92. Lorex LNE3003 Network IP Surveillance Camera

  93. Pioneer LX01BD High Definition Home Theater System

  94. Hammacher Schlemmer R2-D2 Aquarium

  95. 5.11 Light For Life UC3.400 LED Flashlight

  96. Veho VFS-004 5MP Slide & Negative Scanner

  97. iPod Nano 3G TV

  98. Tomy Xiao TIP-521 digital camera that prints

  99. goLITE BLU from Philips

  100. Firebox Pocket Cinema handheld projector

  101. DigiWiFi digital WiFi Detector

  102. Peek, e-mail only device

  103. Stabler KeyPad Pen

  104. Jupiter Wooden Mouse from Actbrise Electronics

  105. Aven Mighty Scope hand-held digital microscope

  106. Aevex PrimaVolta Gloves

  107. Nokia 5800 Xpress Music

  108. ASUS Eee PC™ S101

  109. Microsoft ARC™ Mouse



  110. Travel
  111. Wear lose, comfortable clothing and shoes for your flight.

  112. Bring lightweight slippers or flip-flops for hotel rooms.

  113. Premeasured packets of laundry detergent (available at camping supply stores make it convenient to wash T-shirts and underwear in a hotel sink.

  114. Make two copies of all documents – take one with you and leave one at home.

  115. Bring a list of all toll-free numbers for all your credit and bank cards in case your wallet is lost or stolen.

  116. Put a couple of dryer sheets in your suitcase to keep it smelling fresh.

  117. Bring extra hangers with you to the hotel.

  118. Spring-type clothespins can hold together drapes and secure bulky shower curtains.

  119. Mark luggage with distinctive colors or stickers so it’s easier to find.

  120. Put address labels on things like cameras and cell phones, for easy return if they get lost.

  121. Don’t forget to remove old airline destination tags.

  122. Travel earlier in the week, if possible.

  123. Tape a list of the contents for each of your suitcases inside the lid. Then you don’t have to dig through the whole thing looking for items.

  124. Stuff socks and small items into a second pair of shoes to conserve space.

  125. Bring your own pillows if possible.

  126. Use your business address or business card in your luggage tag to avoid giving your home address and phone number.

  127. Put your money in several different bags in case one gets lost.

  128. Create your packing checklist at least a week before you leave and only take essentials.

  129. Don’t sleep in on your vacation.

  130. Stay hydrated while you fly.

  131. Put your most important gear in your carryon.

  132. If conditions allow, try to stand up and walk around the cabin every once in a while.

  133. Carry a travel alarm clock as a backup to the hotel’s wakeup call.

  134. Reduce stress by allowing plenty of time to check in and reach your departure gate.

  135. If you’re prone to sickness, try to get a window seat over the wing.

  136. Carry a mini-emergency kit with things like aspirin, scissors, band-aids, sanitary wipes, Neosporin, antacid, and duct tape.

  137. You can possibly save some money by purchasing a travel package.

  138. Relax and have a good time.



  139. Going Green
  140. Invest in ENERGYSTAR-appliances like computers, monitors and printers. Visit energystar.gov.

  141. Set your computer to “hibernate” when not in use for 30 minutes.

  142. Turn off your computer when you leave for more than 20 minutes. Screensavers use electricity.

  143. Print only what you need. You’ll save paper, ink, energy, and trees.

  144. Recycle your office paper.

  145. Put plants around the office to help filter the air.

  146. Bring lunch to work in reusable containers.

  147. Get a green office audit for your business.

  148. Use an environmentally responsible bank.

  149. Print double-sided both at home and at the office.

  150. Buy refillable ink pens.

  151. Bring your own reusable water bottles and coffee mugs to work.

  152. Carpool with a coworker who lives nearby.

  153. Turn off lights in conference rooms after meetings.

  154. Refill computer ink cartridges instead of throwing them out.

  155. Place signs near receptacles reminding employees to recycle.

  156. Recycle old computers, monitors and accessories.

  157. Drink organic coffee.

  158. Use compact fluorescent bulbs.



  159. Marketing
  160. With more people returning to theaters, they are more likely run errands before the movie or dine out afterwards. Your business can turn this into an opportunity, by offering a discount when customers bring in a recent movie stub.

  161. Rent a space at a trade show.

  162. Ask your best clients for testimonials.

  163. Try to engage in at least one marketing activity every day.

  164. Offer a free item for responding to your ad.

  165. Set a specific marketing goal for your business this year.

  166. When you come up with ideas, keep them in a file for later use.

  167. Read market research studies about your industry, product, target market groups, etc.

  168. Look at the ads for your competition and study them for strategy, product features, etc.

  169. Ask clients why they hired you and solicit suggestions for improvement.

  170. Join a list serve (e-mail list related to your profession.

  171. Include the services you offer on the back of your business card.

  172. Have an answering machine for after-hours calls.

  173. Sponsor or participate in a local event.

  174. Offer a discount card.

  175. Update your services.

  176. Team up with neighboring businesses to offer a package promotion.

  177. Send press releases to various media outlets.

  178. Attend a marketing seminar.

  179. Use your company logo on letterhead and envelopes.

  180. Send holiday cards to everyone you meet.

  181. Contact old customers periodically to update your database.

  182. When you send out brochures/company literature, include postage-paid survey cards.

  183. Join a local club/trade organization.

  184. Do some public speaking at clubs/organizations.

  185. Make sure to include a signature file with all your e-mails.

  186. Hand out calendars with your business information on it.

  187. Hold an open house and invite local officials.

  188. Offer discounts to organizations for ads in their publications.

  189. Launch a contest.

  190. Ask clients to refer you to others.

  191. Start a Customer of the Month program.

  192. Offer a guarantee of your products/services.



  193. Employee Motivation
  194. Make it easy for them to communicate with you.

  195. Sponsor a competition.

  196. Offer praise.

  197. Host a work outing.

  198. Offer help with career goals.

  199. Help employees learn new skills.

  200. Offer monetary incentives.

  201. Provide regular feedback.

  202. Set a positive tone for the day when you arrive.

  203. Find an inspirational office space.

  204. Share your expectations with them.

  205. Have concrete answers to their questions.

  206. Thank them.

  207. Get to know each individual employee.

  208. Encourage initiative, creativity and independent thought.

  209. Involve them in decisions that affect them.

  210. Involve them in different tasks so they don’t get bored.

  211. Walk the front lines.

  212. Don’t spring surprises on them.

  213. Start a suggestion box.

  214. Take a picture of your entire staff (including you, have it enlarged and hang it in a visible spot.



  215. Health
  216. Meditation is a great way to relieve stress and improve health.

  217. Make sure to get regular checkups, regardless of your age.

  218. Hold the salt.

  219. Drink green tea, as it provides several health benefits.

  220. Protect yourself from pollution.

  221. Cut down or eliminate sugar altogether.

  222. Always remember to use sunscreen.

  223. Start reading the labels on food.

  224. Floss your teeth.

  225. Keep a positive outlook.

  226. Drink 8 glasses of water a day.

  227. Take vitamins.

  228. Buy a pet – they reduce stress, lower cholesterol and decrease blood pressure.

  229. Cut the fat.

  230. Share a hug.

  231. Washing your hands can greatly reduce the spread of germs.

  232. Be careful when taking multiple medications.

  233. Give your brain a workout by playing chess, reading newspapers, or doing crossword puzzles.

  234. Start your day with a 15-20 minute walk.

  235. Walk away from your desk at least once every two hours and step outside.

  236. Drink wine - the antioxidants can help protect against heart disease.

  237. Get a flu vaccine.

  238. Be good to your bones.

  239. Increase the fiber in your diet.

  240. Start cooking with olive oil.



  241. Inspiration
  242. “Motivation gets you going and habit gets you there. Make motivation a habit and you will get there more quickly and have more fun on the trip.” – Zig Ziglar, American author, salesperson and motivational speaker

  243. “When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” -Henry Ford

  244. “What I know is, is that if you do work that you love, and the work fulfills you, the rest will come.” -Oprah Winfrey

  245. “The important thing is not being afraid to take a chance. Remember, the greatest failure is to not try. Once you find something you love to do, be the best at doing it.” - Debbi Fields, founder of Mrs. Fields Cookies

  246. “Entrepreneurs are simply those who understand that there is little difference between obstacle and opportunity and are able to turn both to their advantage.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, Italian renaissance writer

  247. “What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters to what lies within us.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson, American essayist, philosopher and poet

  248. “A dream is just a dream. A goal is a dream with a plan and a deadline.” - Harvey Mackay, best-selling author, columnist and business speaker

  249. “Inspiration grows into full-scale creation through persistence and imagination.” - Carol Lloyd, writer, performer and entrepreneur

  250. “Luck is when preparedness meets opportunity.” - Earl Nightingale, motivational writer and author

  251. “I think there is something more important than believing: Action! The world is full of dreamers. There aren’t enough who will move ahead and take concrete steps to actualize their vision.” - famous quote from W. Clement Stone, American businessman, author and philanthropist

  252. “When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for it is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” - Harriet Beecher Stowe, American author and abolitionist

  253. “It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.” - famous quote from Elinor Smith, aviatrix

  254. “Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” - Thomas Jefferson

  255. “The thing always happens that you really believe in; and the belief in a thing makes it happen.” - Frank Lloyd Wright

  256. “Some things you have to do every day. Eating seven apples on Saturday night instead of one a day just isn’t going to get the job done.” - Jim Rohn, motivational speaker, philosopher and entrepreneur

  257. “The secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes.“- Earl of Beaconsfield

  258. “Success is the good fortune that comes from aspiration, desperation, perspiration and inspiration.” - Evan Esar

  259. “The only way of finding the limits of the possible is by going beyond them into the impossible.” - Arthur C. Clarke

  260. “The best way out is always through.” - Robert Frost

  261. “Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall.” - Confucius

  262. “If you can imagine it, you can achieve it; if you can dream it, you can become it.” - William Arthur Ward

  263. “The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack in will.” - Vince Lombardi



  264. Organization
  265. Don’t overfill your filing drawers.

  266. Prepare for the morning, the night before.

  267. Return phone calls in batches.

  268. Clear your inbox of unnecessary, old e-mails.

  269. Use a separate drawer for non-work papers.

  270. Color code checks so it’s easy to identify business vs. personal accounts.

  271. Clean out your desk drawers to free up more space.

  272. Update your e-mail contacts, address books, and cell phone numbers.

  273. Organize your newly collected business cards.

  274. Create a master to-do list for each day.

  275. Make copies of important papers and store them where you can get to them.

  276. Keep only essential items on your desktop.

  277. Create an inbox for each of your employees.

  278. Use containers to store office supplies.

  279. Color-code your files.

  280. Use an online calendar.

  281. Label all of your boxes, bins, drawers and binders.

  282. Use a shredder to get rid of old items on your desk you no longer need.

  283. Make notes on your calendar indicating what you’ll need for an event.



  284. Customer service
  285. Give customers a reason to return to your business.

  286. Go beyond customer expectations.

  287. Have fun with your customers.

  288. Follow up with customers on their purchases.

  289. Handle customer issues quickly.

  290. Identify and anticipate the needs of customers before they arise.

  291. Know who your customers are.

  292. Pay attention to customer complaints/compliments.

  293. Make sure customers know they are appreciated.

  294. Educate customers about your products/services.

  295. Make every decision with your customers in mind.

  296. Treat your employees well.

  297. Thank your customers.

  298. Know when to apologize.

  299. Research the marketplace.

  300. Listen to your customers.

  301. Be reliable.

  302. Continually look at how you can improve and add value.

  303. Make sure to give each customer personal attention.

  304. Never let untrained employees have contact with customers.

  305. Make customers feel important and appreciated.

  306. Communicate and reach out to your loyal customers.



  307. Advertising
  308. Change your ad copy if it’s not working.

  309. Your vehicle provides very visible advertising.

  310. Know your target audience.

  311. Sell some of your products on eBay.

  312. Test your ads.

  313. Make sure to highlight the pros of your business.

  314. You have to spend money to make money.

  315. Budget according to your seasonal advertising needs.

  316. Use various methods of advertising.

  317. No product/service will appeal to everyone.

  318. Include a promotion when you send out invoices.

  319. Monitor your ads so you know which ones generate business.



  320. SEO
  321. Content is King.

  322. Choose keywords wisely.

  323. Test keywords with pay-per-click ads.

  324. Submit your site to search engines.

  325. Build up links to your site from other sites.



  326. Saving Money
  327. Price check before buying anything expensive.

  328. Make sure all electronics are on a surge protector.

  329. Ask your doctor for free samples of drugs prescribed for you.

  330. Call your credit card company and ask for a rate reduction.

  331. Make a list before going shopping.

  332. Get some quotes to see if you can save on your car insurance.

  333. Do a maintenance check on office appliances to ensure efficiency.

  334. Avoid shopping on your lunch break.

  335. Buy insurance for your business.

  336. Make a budget for yourself and stick to it.

  337. Go through your cell phone bill and nix services you don’t use.

  338. Shop around for gas.

  339. Bring your own coffee from home.

  340. Utilize online bill pay.

  341. Experiment to find the shortest route to work.

  342. Always ask if fees can be waived.

  343. Repair items instead of throwing them out.

  344. Give up one bad habit.

  345. Utilize coupons and rebates.

  346. Check your receipts.

  347. Have money automatically taken out for retirement and savings.

  348. Cancel the cable channels you don’t watch.

  349. Take your lunch to work.



  350. Networking
  351. Always carry business cards with you.

  352. Follow up with everyone.

  353. Write an article about a topic in your industry.

  354. Practice active listening.

  355. Keep your goal in mind.

  356. Build on your relationships.

  357. Radiate confidence even if you’re nervous.

  358. Perfect your handshake.

  359. Educate your audience.

  360. Ask people to introduce you to their contacts.

  361. Aim to get your business visible.

  362. Have your elevator pitch down.

  363. Be approachable.

  364. Become a volunteer.

  365. Don’t dismiss small talk.

  366. Every event is a chance to network.

  367. Always be positive when talking to people.

  368. Observe the other person you’re talking to.

  369. Make sure you have everything you need to make a great impression.

  370. Don’t ever pass up an opportunity.



  371. Financing
  372. While not always the best option, credit cards can get you the capital you need to get started.

  373. Look into a home equity line.

  374. See if you qualify for a government grant.

  375. Consider going with a micro lender.

  376. Look for a loan at a credit union.

  377. Prepare a solid business plan.

  378. Start on a shoestring budget.

  379. Consider going to family.

  380. Look into peer-to-peer networks.

  381. Think about bringing a partner on board.

  382. Look for bank that will understand your business needs.

Is this topic relevant to your small business? Discover more for FREE through our print version.



Reader Comments


Thursday, January 8, 2009 at 3:14 PM
Angel Hughes says:
These are all very good ideas. I believe most of them can apply to me. None of them were unimportant. Thankyou for them. AM Hughes

Copyright © 2009 - 2019 America's Best. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.