As soon as January 1st rolls around you start hearing it from everywhere—what are your New Year’s resolutions, what do you plan to do this year and what are your goals? We all make personal resolutions, but as a small business owner your resolutions don’t just stop with you; you also need to set some business resolutions, which can go hand-in-hand with your personal ones. Here are a few New Year’s resolutions you can make to help your successful business become even more successful.
Many businesses start the new year with a clean slate and stay organized for the first couple of months. But as the year goes by they start slipping and start to build piles of paperwork that they say they will get to, but never do, especially during busier times. This can be very costly and hurt the success of your business. Put organization on your list of resolutions this year and start by setting aside 5-10 minutes a day to organize your files (paper or electronic) and go over your financial statements to make sure everything looks right and if it doesn’t, tackle it right away. Keeping yourself and your business organized allows you to keep the peace of mind that you know where everything is and where you stand financially so you can be pro-active rather than spend more time fixing it later.
You could also set up time with your advisers or accountant once a month or quarter to go over any questions you have about your personal and business finances. This will help you better understand your business so you can make more effective decisions, such as, where you may be able to cut costs or where there might be an opportunity.
Abandon What’s Not Working
As an entrepreneur, your main focus is on what is working for your business and what else you could do. That’s great, but don’t let it be a one-way street. Running many successful campaigns and pursuing new strategies is good as long as they are all working and moving the needle. But if you see that something is not working then it’s time to get rid of it because keeping it could only harm your business. This year, keep an audit of all of the things you are doing, evaluate them and only keep the ones that are truly beneficial to your growing business. You will not only save money but will gain time in pursuing other projects or trying new more innovative things that might work better.
You could also apply this to your employees as well. Make a habit of evaluating your employee’s work ethic and successes. If you see that an employee is not meeting your standards, then don’t keep them around. An inefficient employee is a weak link and will bring your entire staff down and could potentially influence your customer base. Don’t let the weak link hinder your other employee’s success.
Identify the Biggest Time Wasters
If you wish you could automate most of your day-to-day tasks, then make it a priority this year to find which new software or tool you can implement and benefit from in your business. With new technology popping out from every corner you are sure to find the right tools to help you automate some of the things you do manually, like scheduling, tracking business performance or accounting. Maybe there is a better more effective payment processing system you could implement. Whatever it is if there is an easier more efficient way of doing something implement it this year, and save yourself the headache of manual work. As the saying goes ‘it’s better to work smarter not harder.’
This year, stop relying on email and phone calls or even social media to get in touch with your customers. Instead, make an effort to meet them face-to-face. The best way to get your point across to a potential customer is by having a conversation face-to-face with them. Remember deep and long lasting relationships are built IRL (In Real Life). If you’re a restaurant owner, make an effort to go to each table and ask how your customers are doing and if they liked their meal. If you are a retailer make sure you go on the sales floor and help one or more of your customers. Whatever your business is, make an effort to meet with your customers face-to-face as often as you can.
Make a note to start listening more; to your colleagues, your employees, and other business owners. Listening to your colleagues and employees will help you stay on top of what is going on in your business on a daily basis and identify any issues quickly. Sometimes you as the business owner aren’t always on the sales floor or in the office so your employees might see or hear things you miss. Ask them about what happened when you were gone and make sure to listen to them and have a productive conversation; they might have an effective solution or idea that could help your business.
You should also start listening to other business owners and gain experiences from them. They might say something to you that may spark an idea or stop you from doing something that would’ve been detrimental to your business.
Stay Up to Date
We live in a fast-paced world and as a business owner, you should keep this top of mind. Make this year your best year yet and try to stay up to date on the newest trends, whether it’s industry related, the newest social craze, or a new gadget. Keeping up with what is happening in the world will help you identify what your next move should be, so you can make a difference in your business at the right time. Take a few minutes each day and enhance your knowledge about the next big thing everyone is talking about and be the first one on the train if it makes sense for your business.
Take Personal Stock
Every year, our CEO sits down and takes stock of the previous year and what he did. He looks at what roles he took on within the company and determined if he can delegate anything to his employees. He figures out if there are tasks that another employee can successfully accomplish and then empowers them to take on the new task(s). It’s a great way for him to keep his eyes towards the growth of his company while boosting his employee’s confidence in taking on larger roles within the organization. This year, try to do the same, take stock of what you’ve done and see if you can delegate responsibilities to free up your time.
Make Time for Yourself
Running a business can take all of your time and then some—but if you don’t build time in your day for yourself to take a breather, it’s easy to burn out and lose your passion. It’s important for the success and production of your business to make an appointment each day for ‘me time’ and dedicate that time to pursue interests other than your work. Consider interests that use the other side of your brain—giving your work side a break allowing you to clear your head so you can come back to work with a fresh state of mind. Sometimes things can get frustrating at work and the best way to tackle it is just to simply walk away from it—and when you come back, your mind is clear of the frustration and will think more efficiently. A 2011 study published in Cognition states that taking a break helps you with goal reactivation. It’s a practice that encourages you to stay mindful of your objectives, and, as the authors of the study report, reliably contributes to better performance.
You can also use that ‘me time’ to make doctor’s appointments and think about your health. Almost everyone’s New Year’s resolution includes time to exercise more, but many fall out of it after the first month. As an entrepreneur, it is especially important for you to stick with your health plan because if you’re not healthy then how do you expect to run a successful business?
Sharpen the Saw
Keeping your skills current is essential to running a productive and efficient business. Whether you’re a restaurant owner, retailer, or salon owner, it’s a good idea to invest in yourself with one new skill to enhance your own professional growth. You take the time to invest in training your employees so why not do the same for yourself? Take time during the year to become proficient in an area you are weak in or an area you have always wanted to learn more about. You could promise yourself to go to at least one or more industry events where you can network and learn from other’s experiences. A big part of success is never to stop learning from others.
Have a Positive Outlook
Running a business can be stressful. It’s not easy, and cash flow is usually an issue. This year, try not to get bogged down with the negative—focus on the positives: Where you’ve come, where you’re going this year, and where you’ll be next year. It will help you focus on the big picture—your business goals. Once you’ve focused on what you want to accomplish, your business objectives for the future years will become clear.
Be proud to be a small business owner and celebrate your achievements. Focus on your New Year’s resolutions and goals this year and stay passionate about what you do.