Whether or not you find them helpful, New Year’s resolutions have a way of asserting themselves in our daily lives as December gives way to January, and the fresh start of a new year holds us in its thrall. Resolutions, however, aren’t just for making you accountable to join—and go to—a gym. They can be very useful in the realm of small business, as they can help you focus on goals and aspirations for the upcoming year.
Below are some of the more common New Year’s resolutions for small businesses in 2016, and a few others that are just sound advice.
1. Resolve to Re-Evaluate Your Mission Statement and Overall Goals
If you’ve been in business for a few years, chances are things have changed pretty dramatically from when you began. Due to the economy, competition or even just your own interests, it’s possible that what you set out to do isn’t quite what you ended up with, and that’s okay. Take a moment to review your mission statement and overall goals.
Pull out that business plan you first put together when you were looking for financing, and see how your long-term goals stack up against your real-world experience.
2. Resolve to Ask for—and Listen to—Feedback
This is a tough one since soliciting feedback can open us up to criticism we may not be prepared for. Even so, your employees, board members and advisors will appreciate that you have asked for their feedback on your business and what improvements or changes you might make to be more successful.
Consider tailoring your questions for each audience. Your employees are uniquely qualified to help you forecast client growth, as well as troubleshoot problem areas such as increased competition or stagnant product offerings. Your board members and advisors, if you have them, bring an outside perspective that can be invaluable.
This bird’s-eye view of your business can help you see past the day-to-day struggles and challenges and help you to envision long-term achievements.
3. Resolve to Refresh Your Social Media and Marketing Strategies
Social media changes at a rapid pace, so there’s a very good chance you may have missed out on at least three new platforms you could be using to promote your business. Take a survey of the social media landscape and determine what is still working for you, what isn’t and what might.
You’ll also want to re-evaluate your advertising and marketing strategy. Now is the time to review your campaign results from the past year, and take a hard look at what worked and what didn’t. If money isn’t a concern, it might be beneficial to keep your strategy the same. But if you’re looking to cut expenses, tightening up your marketing strategy is a good place to start.
4. Resolve to Enhance Your Technology Footprint
Few things frustrate employees—and clients—more than working with outdated technology. Slow internet speeds, clunky operating systems and inadequate programs and tools can make daily tasks more than a chore and can eat up valuable time that your team might better spend making a sale or building a relationship.
Consider all aspects of your organization’s technology, from desktop computers and laptops to cell phones to high-speed internet to copiers. See which pieces of equipment are still working, and which ones aren’t. The new year is also a great time to look for deals, especially if you’re looking to outfit an office as you’ll get a better deal when buying or leasing in bulk.
5. Resolve to Plan Ahead
Some business owners are pros at planning ahead. They have calendars with dates marked off months in advance, and know exactly when to make time for personal and business affairs. And then there are the rest, who are hard-pressed to remember today’s schedule, let alone next week’s.
As a small business owner, chances are you are more apt to fall into the former category, juggling multiple commitments and timelines for quite a while. But even if you consider yourself a master planner, now’s the time to take a moment to really look at the next twelve months and plan what you can.
While many unexpected things will happen throughout the year that you cannot possibly anticipate, marking down special dates in your personal life or even sketching out your annual promotions around the holidays are things you can get a handle on early.
6. Resolve to Take a Breath and Nourish Your Mind and Body
The end of the year is hectic enough with holidays and family obligations. Add end-of-the-year accounting and tax preparation to that list, and you’re going to find it difficult to take a moment to eat lunch, let alone recharge.
The importance of taking time for yourself cannot be understated. How you do it is irrelevant; the most important thing is that you do. Not only will it help to reaffirm your commitment to your business and goals, but pursuing interests outside of your own company makes you a better manager and human being. Plus, only with a bit of distance and some quiet time will you truly be able to reflect on the past year and look forward to the year ahead.
7. Resolve to Learn One New Thing
It might sound cliche, but learning something new and engaging your mind will help to keep your wits sharp, and provide you something to focus on besides work. Additionally, if you can spend time in a classroom and learn by interacting with your peers in a class environment, you not only make connections with other like-minded individuals, but you expand your mind to take in other viewpoints and perspectives.
Even if you don’t have time for a classroom, take time to learn something new on your own. You might even stumble upon your next business idea in the process.
8. Resolve to Achieve a Bit of Balance
While many will tell you achieving a good work-life balance is a descent into madness, especially for a small business owner or entrepreneur, doing so is indeed possible. Start by committing to a set of working hours and hold firm.
Make sure that everyone—employees, clients, family members—understand when you’re working and when you’re not. You can, of course, make exceptions to be available outside of these hours, but making too many exceptions can create a slippery slope. If you don’t set the boundaries, no one else will.
Your own New Year’s resolutions might look similar to the ones above, or they might be uniquely tailored to your specific needs and business. Whatever form they take, try to focus on the positive aspect of resolutions, and not the negative connotation they have developed in modern culture.
By making a resolution, you’re giving yourself a goal to achieve. As long as you strive toward your goal throughout the year, then you can consider your New Year’s resolutions a success. Best of luck to you and your business in 2016!