Well, we've come to the end of another year--and I'm sure most of us are glad to see 2005 go. As I write this, Wilma, yet another major hurricane, threatens to soak Florida. New Orleans and many other cities in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Texas are still struggling to recover from the horrors of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Millions of Americans were affected by these storms--and many of them were business owners. I'm sure most of us know someone who was directly affected by these calamities. Or maybe you were directly affected yourself. In the March 2006 issue, we're going to check in on some New Orleans entrepreneurs and see how they're doing. If you have your own story to tell, please e-mail it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We may post your story online at Entrepreneur.com.
A common year-end tradition is to assess what we accomplished (or didn't) in the past year and what we're planning to do in the coming one. This is a good time to revisit your disaster plan. I certainly hope you have one. Disasters don't only happen to businesses located in hurricane- or earthquake-prone areas. If you don't have a plan, or if you formulated one so long ago it's outdated. It can help get your new year off to a good start.
Another year-end tradition is to count your blessings. I know so many people who, while watching the aftermath of Katrina, dug deep in their pockets and gave what they could. Businesses large and small made immediate cash donations. Others continue to donate. A few weeks ago, I met with some folks at Swingline Staplers who are donating a dollar for every Optima stapler sold through December. I understand that it's easier for large corporations to donate. Your margins are leaner, and your businesses obviously have less cash to divert to outside causes. But it's important to remember the old saying, "There but for the grace of God, go I." If something were to happen to your business, wouldn't you want people to help?
Help doesn't necessarily have to come in the form of cash, either. It's likely there are business owners in the affected areas who need advice and recovery guidance. In September, I talked to a counselor from the Jones County Junior College Small Business Development Center in Ellisville, Mississippi. His SBDC is now charged with not only helping the business owners in his area, but also those in the entire southern part of the state, where he says two other SBDCs were wiped out by Katrina. I'm sure all the SBDCs in the affected areas could use some help. Contact them through www.sba.gov/sbdc, and find out what they need.
Looking ahead, it's our year-end tradition at Entrepreneur to offer you the latest trends and best business ideas for the coming year. This year is no exception.
And of course, on behalf of all of us here at Entrepreneur, our best wishes for a wonderful holiday season.