Strategies for Sticking to Your Small-Business Resolutions


So 2014 is the year you’ve vowed to (finally) stick to your New Year’s resolutions. Congratulations!

Maybe it’s time to retool your customer-service operations, revamp your employee-retention strategy, or rethink a product or service based on external feedback. Whatever resolutions you make, be prepared to do whatever it takes to realize your goals.

Here are six strategies for sticking to your small-business resolutions in the coming year.

1. Envision success. Start by picturing your resolutions as genuine achievements. For example, if you aim to spend more time communicating with employees, visualize one-on-one meetings with each of your key staff members that generate measurable results. Imagine the sense of fulfillment you’ll feel after reaching your objectives. This feeling can inspire you, get your creative juices flowing, and help you execute your plans.

2. Act from your core values. Resolutions that spring from your personal beliefs are more effective than those designed to alter superficial behaviors. “For change to last, make sure your motive expresses your true self and fosters your highest good,” says therapist Darlene Lancer. “Your goal must be congruent with your core beliefs. Resolutions to make changes for someone else’s approval, for monetary gain, or because you think you ‘should’ are hard to sustain.”

3. Put together a plan. A large-scale New Year’s resolution is more achievable when you break it down into a step-by-step action plan. Work out a schedule that moves you toward your end goal with tasks you can complete on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Remember: You’re not going to change your business overnight. Be patient. Pay attention to the process. Celebrate your small victories along the way.

Alicia Rockmore and Sarah Welch, founders of Buttoned Up, suggest using a “weekly power half-hour” to further your goals. Every Sunday evening, set aside 30 minutes to remind yourself why reaching your goal is important, to recognize the progress you’ve made in the past week, and to prepare to take your next action step.

4. Practice self-discipline. Setbacks are part of any process. By anticipating a few discouraging moments, you’ll be less susceptible to feelings of complete failure. Use the willpower that got you where you are today to sustain you through isolated incidents of confusion or loss of morale.

5. Think positively. In the same spirit, act as your own coach and focus on positive outcomes. When a problem arises, take corrective action and praise yourself for responding quickly and looking ahead.

6. Enlist support from family, friends, and colleagues. A pat on the back or some other type of moral support can help keep you going, especially early on. Share your progress and setbacks with your inner circle and gain strength from their support.