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5?4?3? 2...1?

A streak dating back more than three decades came to an end at midnight on New Year's Eve. For the first time since 1972, as America rang in 2005, "America's Oldest Living Teenager" was not in Times Square to count down the dropping of the giant ball. The 75-year-old host of ABC's "New Year's Rockin' Eve" was in the hospital, recuperating from a stroke suffered a few weeks earlier.

Dick Clark evolved from a local radio DJ into the host of television's legendary American Bandstand, and ultimately became a prolific television producer ? of the Golden Globe Awards, American Music Awards, Academy of Country Music Awards and Daytime Emmy Awards ? by being an astute businessman and intuitive trend-spotter. From the favorite dances of teenagers, to the viewing habits of the often fickle American television audience, Clark recognized what people wanted and found new ways to deliver it to them.

As a small business owner, it is important to stay on top of and adjust to emerging trends ? whether they are technological breakthroughs in your industry or shifts in the products/services your customers/clients are buying from you. Recognizing opportunity is a result of keeping your eyes open to what is happening all around you.

Success Handler Action: To get your year off to a dynamic start, gather your team and discuss the changes occurring in your business. Consider innovative approaches you could take to increase productivity and the creative ways competitors are attempting to acquire your customers/clients. Here are some questions to help you get started:

~ What were your proudest moments last year?

~ What are your most significant goals/opportunities for this year?

~ What are your most significant challenges this year?

~ Where are you most likely to find new customers/clients in the next six months?

~ How is your industry changing, and what do you need to change to stay competitive?

Over the years, Dick Clark's smooth charm and youthful, tanned appearance have remained amazingly unchanged. However, much like the $10,000 Pyramid transformed into the $25,000 Pyramid and eventually ballooned into the $100,000 Pyramid, Clark's approach to business has changed whenever necessary. As a small business owner, it is important to create a culture in which your team is open to change.

Success Handler Action: Think about how your employees deal with change. Do they greet it as a chance to learn and grow, or fear it as difficult and disruptive? Here are five steps to improving your employees' reactions the next time change is coming:

1. Think about how this change will affect employees by looking at it from their perspective.

2. Before introducing a new approach, let a few key employees know about it first.

3. Have these key employees share with others, so more people are in the loop early.

4. Hold a team meeting to introduce the change, and leave time for answering questions.

5. Provide updates on the results of the change, and make adjustments based on feedback.

The biggest roadblock to instituting change is overcoming the natural fears your employees have whenever they feel their comfort level is being threatened. Having open communication before, during and after change occurs will create a culture where your employees welcome change as an important part of building a thriving business that helps them achieve success.

Regis Philbin, certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as having logged the most hours on network television, filled in this year from an indoor set above Times Square. Hopefully, Dick Clark will be back on the street ? earmuffs, gloves and overcoat in place ? to welcome in 2006. Between now and then, make a resolution to change your approach to change, so your employees react with a hearty "It has a good beat and you can dance to it!"

Copyright ? 2005 by Success Handler, LLC. All rights reserved.

The Coach, David Handler, is the founder of Success Handler, (http://www.successhandler.com), and specializes in helping small business leaders find clarity and take action. He understands the challenges of running a business, because he's been there ? as a small business owner, franchisee, franchisor, corporate leader and trainer. Much like sports coaches, his coaching will show you how to compete on a level playing field in your industry.

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