Small Business Resolutions: A New Year, A New Plan

Immediately after the fun and excitement of the holidays, most of us attempt to make various improvements in our lives in the form of New Year’s resolutions. For small business owners these resolutions aren’t limited to your personal life, they extend to your company as well. Whether you want to expand into a new market, increase your sales, or run your company more efficiently, here are a few things to keep in mind while planning your New Year’s Business Resolutions:

Maximize Your Potential for Success. Take some time to really assess yourself and your team. Understand your strengths and isolate the places where your key players could use some help. If possible, expand your team to help fill the gaps or re-arrange some responsibilities to allow the best use of your staff. You hired them for one purpose, but most people have a variety of experience and may even have strengths you were unaware of previously.

Realistic Goals. Don’t position yourself for failure by creating outrageous goals. Even with the best of intentions, it is never going to work. Dreaming of turning your tiny store into a Fortune 500 company? Good for you; but don’t expect to accomplish this in two days. Instead, try to make several smaller goals that all work toward your overarching plan. Introduce realistic steps that can be taken daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly to help reach your long term objective. Set a variety of smaller goals and give yourself enough time for each.

Embrace the Challenge. Trying something new and implementing change is both commendable and difficult. Understand that, depending on how drastic your changes are, you may meet resistance even from your own team. Incorporate your employees into your business resolutions and get input along the way. Praise those who are doing exceptionally well and consider rewarding your team members with something in return, perhaps a lunch on the company, an after work celebration, or a bonus (monetary or extra time off). When executed carefully, challenges like this can be team building exercises as well, the benefits of which will carry over into other areas at work.

Communicate Clearly. Be clear about what you need from people and when you need it by. Be concise, and follow up in an email or memo if necessary to drive home the point. People can’t meet your goals if they don’t understand them. Also, be sure to update your team with new goals or changes to the plan as they happen. This will ease frustration for everyone involved.

Make Time. Break down your overarching objective into digestible pieces and make sure that you are allowing enough time to accomplish each goal. If your schedule is already barely leaving you enough time to sleep, then you may need to re-prioritize to make time to accomplish your business resolutions. Set up time limits for yourself and stick to them. If you can scale back a major time commitment, try it. If you can automate something, give it a shot. Even a few minutes here or there will help free up your schedule.

Relax. Try to keep some time open to unwind in your day. Schedule it if you have to, but having some time where you have the phone off and the computer sleeping each day is essential to avoiding the small business owner burnout. You can’t mentally and physically give everything you have 24/7, 365 days a year, it is impossible. You need time to recharge, and really you need to give yourself permission to relax and to do something fun. Find something you enjoy, and go for it – lose yourself in a book, take your kids or dog to the park, have dinner with friends, watch your favorite show – with one rule, no work. I have a difficult time with this one myself, but you will feel better and be able to do more if you allow yourself some “off” time. As an extra bonus, when you do get back to work you will feel refreshed with enthusiasm and perspective.

Don’t Give Up. You missed a deadline or didn’t meet a goal. Something happened that prevented you from finishing what you wanted to. Basically, life interrupted. It happens, and it’s not the end of the world. More importantly, it doesn’t mean that whatever you set up for yourself won’t work. Keep trying until you find what works for you.

Re-Evaluate Your Goal. Remain focused on the big picture and periodically step back to be sure you are still making progress. Don’t be afraid to modify your business resolutions to fit your progress. Is it clear by April that you are not allowing enough time to meet your goals? Scale back the goal to meet the timeframe or expand the deadline. Schedule periodic evaluations and keep track of your progress on various goals, making modifications where necessary.

Keep these things in mind as you plan and execute your New Year’s business resolutions and they should help you to achieve your overall goals. Have a happy and prosperous 2014. Good luck!

Featured Image Courtesy of Kittikun Atsawintarangkul  at FreeDigitalPhotos.net