By Maria Valdez Haubrich

Once the holiday parties are over and the rush of the season has slowed down, most of us not only reflect on the ups and downs of past year, we also look ahead to the new year to see what we can do better. How can we improve our business and really put it on the fast track to growth?
We put the question to our readers and asked for their best tips. Meet are our three winners (who by the way will receive a new HP laser jet printer).

Jennifer Frey: Realtor, Keller Williams Energy, Whitby, Ontario
My tip for putting my business on the fast track was to ask as many questions as needed of the people who were doing well in the business and to do what they did when they started out. I spent a lot of time surrounding myself with these people, and always asking questions.

Carrie Brenner: Writer, Editor, Copyeditor, El Cajon, CA
Think of your employees as co-workers, not worker bees. Even if they don’t have a financial stake in the company, if you value the individual strengths of all your co-workers and treat them with respect, you can get them pumped up about where your company is heading. And if everyone is 100 percent invested in success, you’ll get there a lot quicker.
This can be as simple as remembering important details—how are the kids, anyway?— providing meaningful perks, like an afternoon off for errands for the co-worker who put in extra time on a project, and encouraging feedback.

Khadi Madama: Owner, Yours Truly Yoga, Beachwood, NJ
1.  Learn everything there is to know about public relations. Take advantage of free courses.
2.  Organize your office so you don’t miss opportunities due to lost information.
3.  Gain visibility through social media and networking.
4.  Create a brand that is unique in order to distinguish yourself from others.
5.  Utilize the latest in office and communication technology to stay up to the minute.
6   Learn how to maximize time to include self-care to avoid stress burn-out.