No matter your place in the flexible packaging market, 2009 likely dealt you the worst economic conditions you’ve ever seen in your professional career…perhaps even in your entire life. After you bid farewell (or good riddance) to 2009, you more than likely welcomed 2010 with arms wide open. After all, by comparison, 2010 has a lot more going for it than last year ever did, right?

Yes, there’s much more optimism now than at this point last year, but make no mistake-challenges and other uncertainties remain. Economists, businesses and consumers alike still fret about the potential for true economic recovery as unemployment numbers remain elevated and credit somewhere between scarce and limited. The health care reform that converters fear will change the way they operate in South Carolina or Oregon now rests on the outcome of a showdown in Massachusetts. Finally, the battles flexible packaging companies waged last year with the peaks and valleys of raw materials prices may not be over as those prices begin to rise again.

In truth, 2010 can be a successful chapter in your company’s history, but everyone from the production floor through the executive suite must be prepared to roll up the sleeves, limber up and dig in. Here are three areas you might consider attacking first:

1. Create and maintain a presence. All the phone calls, e-mails, meetings, trade show visits and other marketing efforts you put forth last year ought to carry over (or increase) into this year. Make sure your company is always visible and ready to respond to a customer’s challenge.

2. Pump up the pipeline. January through February has a way of being one of the quietest periods for many businesses. So use this brief respite to gather your colleagues, develop strategies for retaining or growing business, and convert those opportunities into a pipeline of solid revenue.

3. Time for a pep talk. Any plan of action you choose to follow in 2010 will require a unified team of dedicated individuals ready to pull hard in the same direction. More than likely, whatever uncertainty your staff may have experienced last year has spilled over into this year. Check in with employees at all levels and secure a sense of mutual commitment to the success you’re outlining.

Sayre Kos, Editor-in-Chief, 847-740-6210