The state of the profession is in good shape. Surveying and mapping professionals continue to sidestep the unfortunate economic and employment conditions experienced by numerous other professions. Recognition of surveying, mapping and geospatial work by legislative bodies is on the upswing. Value pricing for services seems to be on the rise. Overall, the status of the profession looks good. But, there is always room for improvement.

While business acumen is not a forte of the professional land surveyor, there are some fairly simple things that can be put into place in your business that just might fare you well. Whether you're a one-person "crew," a small firm of less than 10, a mid-sized outfit or part of a large company's surveying division, you can implement effective solutions to improve your business.

Think about what drives you in your job. Improve on your strengths and recognize your weaknesses. Ask for honest feedback from those you work with-including your superiors. Consider ways to improve both your daily tasks and your job in the big picture. If you'd likely benefit from attending a seminar or conference, assign this as a duty for the year. Before you go, plan how to best benefit from the event. Be open to new areas, whether technical or professional in nature. Vow to learn at least two new nuggets that may help you in your job. Take notes and share them with another person right after the event; this way, they will be fresh and you will have voiced them out loud. And remember to network! Heck, I've even picked up a good recipe by meeting someone new at a show!

Other methods for improving your surveying business include conducting peer and customer reviews, increasing marketing efforts and establishing a better working environment. Reviews may be intimidating, but they can be extremely helpful on both an individual and company level. While feedback can be negative, it can also be positive. Either way, it is always constructive-it just depends on what you do with the information. Good customer feedback can be utilized as testimonials to promote your company. At a recent tradeshow, I spent more time talking with a software customer about his experiences than the salesperson at the manufacturer's booth. Employee reviews can reveal strengths and weaknesses within your organization. After being brutally honest (and risky!) in an exit interview for a former employee, I learned that my perspectives were valued and that weaknesses I pointed out were corrected. Later, I did some freelance work for the company. So, even negative energy can be mined into positive energy! The important thing is to approach the process openly with a listening ear and a goal to improve.

Marketing efforts can include establishing or improving a company website and other promotional presence. I love the mural wall created by Arizona's Allen Instruments and Supplies last summer; the artwork promotes the profession in a bold, innovative way. Consider establishing a tagline that encompasses your company's goals. Career days, local "lunch and learn" type workshops, legislative involvement and exploitation of the power of the press should also be targets for promotional sources. Articles in a national magazine like POB or in our electronic newsletter that reaches a national and international audience are wonderful promotional tools. Newspapers are good venues for local and regional endorsement.

Providing an enjoyable work environment can make or break the success of your business. Apply positive reinforcement and promote a balance for your employees' work and personal life-don't work your crews to death! Regular pats on the back, perhaps with rewards, will be recognized. Listening to workers' concerns and complaints can prove that you value your employees. Positioning your company to be the best it can be by enhancing office and field procedures, adding advanced technology to your arsenal, educating both employees and clients, applying standards to your practice, and responding to customer feedback in a timely and effective manner will show your employees that you care about the health of your business. This, in turn, will lead them to care about their individual performance. Joining a local, state or national organization you perceive as representing your company's objectives also proves your commitment to the profession. On an individual level, don't wait for management to come to you; present ideas for improvement and vow to be a diligent and fun worker.

Overall, employees and their work should be valued. Guarantee to yourself and others that you won't accept bottom dollar for your work. Commit to the safety of your employees by holding regular safety meetings and keeping up on methods, techniques and products that ensure this goal.

With a commitment to these areas of your individual professionalism and business health, you're sure to have an outstanding year ahead. Let us know how you're doing!

Check out POB Online for a comprehensive outlook of the profession. Experts chime in on numerous topics including: ALTA surveys, insurance, the laser scanning market, government initiatives affecting the geospatial sciences, outreach, the national exam and more.