Since a new year is upon us, I thought this might be a good time to talk about basics. It’s easy to stray from what we all know we should be doing to make our companies healthy and strong. So let’s revisit fundamentals. Whenever speaking to a room full of people, I have been taught to teach to the least common denominator. So if these points seem "basic" to you, hopefully they will be a welcome reminder to keep on practicing them; for others, I hope you will consider their importance.

Make family a priority: You’ve probably heard this before: No one on his deathbed says, "Gee, I wish I had spent more time at the office." Your family is your best investment. You will never regret it and it will never cost your business in the long run. Test me on this and see if I’m not correct.

Tell the truth: Even if the truth "ain’t pretty," it always trumps a lie. Your business is a reflection of who you are, and how you conduct business creates the ever-coveted referral.

Avoid debt: A good rule of thumb is: If you can’t afford to purchase it with cash, then you can’t afford to purchase it with credit plus interest. With the financial state of the country in jeopardy, keeping your head above water is more critical than ever. You can do this by operating with the least possible risk.

Understand your numbers:If you can’t read a profit and loss statement or balance sheet, then learn how. You must be able to understand whether your company is profitable. Money in your checking account does not necessarily mean you are doing OK; it could just mean that you aren’t broke yet.

Stop wasting time and money:Prequalify your leads. Stop wasting time on tire-kickers who want Paris, France, but who can’t even afford Paris, Indiana.

It’s better to be kind than correct: Treat your subs with honor, respect your employees, and esteem your clients. Be a nice person; humility goes a long way.

Develop and use a budget: Learn how to spend before you spend. Write it down and review it quarterly (at a bare minimum) and adjust as needed to avoid pitfalls.

Stop operating out of fear: Get a grasp on your reality. Look at the scary facts, develop a plan, then implement it.

Have a great year in business! —Kathy Shertzer is office manager at DuKate Fine Remodeling, in Franklin, Ind.

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