Although Wenner's Gardenburger company has grown explosively, it's still tiny in the eyes of the corporate world. That's why Jay Leno, Tom Brokaw, The New York Times and others made hay with the fact that Gardenburger was one of the advertisers on the final episode of "Seinfeld." The spot cost about $1.6 million, but Wenner confidently estimates the payoff was worth more than $2 million in publicity. Says Wenner, "When our marketing vice president [got the idea], everybody wondered, 'What if we spend all that money and it doesn't work?' But I'm an entrepreneur, and to be an entrepreneur, you have to dream big."
15. Ask Your Employees What Your New Year's Resolutions Should Be
It's a more active form of the open-door policy that many employees assume is just a policy, not a real opportunity for them to open up to you. Samaha advises entrepreneurs to ask each of their employees to submit one idea they have for improving any part of the operation, no matter how small.
"The employees see up close where things are bumpy and where they're smooth," she says. "If they're given permission, and even an invitation, to come forward with their opinions, they can point out all kinds of opportunities that you might miss on your own."
Why not make it a New Year's tradition? At the holiday party or on the last workday of the year, make a big production out of getting each person to say what they'd do if they had the power to change one thing about your company. And then publicly resolve to follow through on five of the best ideas. As everyone who's ever tried to lose weight in January knows, there's no better incentive to following through on a resolution than making the vow public.
When making your New Year's resolutions, don't forget about the Y2K bug--and don't think it won't affect you. How do you keep it from wreaking havoc on your business? Check out next month's Entrepreneur, where we'll tell you all you need to know to zap that bug.
Dennis Rodkin is a Highland Park, Illinois, writer whose longest-lived resolution lasted until February 1.