Looking for New Year’s resolutions to help bolster your productivity, increase cash flow, build your brand or improve business overall?
Setting goals and intentions for your small business (and yourself) is a great way to ensure you kick off the year right. Let’s take a look at a few top resolutions to help drive you to success.
Small Business New Year’s Resolutions
A positive first quarter can propel your business early in the year and set the pace for what’s to come. Here are a few top business New Year’s resolutions to start the year strong.
1. Never Stop Innovating
According to 84% of CEOs surveyed by McKinsey & Company, innovation is key to growth, so don’t be content with the status quo. What’s more, innovation will set you apart from your competition and help you attract top talent.
As a small business owner, how should you go about innovating?
- Ask your customers what they want and see how they use your services.
- Check out what your competitors are doing.
- Encourage employees to offer suggestions.
- Have brainstorming sessions or send out employee surveys.
2. Use Feedback to Stimulate Growth
Have you received poor online reviews or employee complaints? Turn those negatives into positives. Analyze valid criticisms and complaints — and see where you can improve.
Also, reach out to existing clients and proactively ask how your business could be better. Consider what changes could help raise your business’s reputation, both inside and outside of the organization.
Keep in mind, only 1 in 26 customers will tell a business about a bad experience, equating to a mere 4%. So what happens to the valuable information you could have gathered from the other 96%? Consider the feedback you do receive a gem of insight into areas of improvement that can drive more business.
3. Give Back to Your Community
When business is booming, paying it forward is another great business resolution for the new year. Fostering a spirit of goodwill and philanthropy can motivate and attract employees, provide networking opportunities and build your brand. While you may not be able to match the efforts of large philanthropic corporations, such as Google and Pfizer, you can start off small.
Consider if there’s a local organization whose mission aligns with your company’s philosophy. Keep in mind, money isn’t the only donation: You can contribute your time and services through volunteer work too.
4. Improve Your Cash Flow
Perhaps your revenue is great but cash on hand is lacking every month. If you’re like one of the 62% of business owners who Quickbooks found had cash-flow issues (or the 44% who were surprised when issues arose), why not begin the year getting your finances under control?
Here are some questions to ask yourself when trying to solve cash-flow problems:
- Can you eliminate excess expenditures?
- Are you buying too much inventory?
- Are you waiting too long to send out invoices?
- Are you paying some bills earlier than you need to?
- Are you underpricing your products or services?
- Do you have more revenue in some months than others, though your expenses might remain constant?
If you don’t have one yet, think about working with an accountant or a business coach who can help with your company’s finances.
5. Make the Web Your Friend
Need to focus more on your website or social networking efforts? Think about investing time to get these up and running or give existing content a facelift. According to search engine optimization company Moz, 97% of potential customers learn about a business online, with 55% of consumers learning about a brand from social media, according to SproutSocial.
New Year’s Resolutions for Business Professionals
In addition to organization-wide resolutions, consider what New Year’s resolutions you’d like to set for yourself as a business professional. Here are some suggestions.
6. Challenge Yourself More
One great new year resolution idea for business owners is to invest in perpetual growth. Challenge yourself to be better than you were last year. Get out of your comfort zone.
What might that mean?
- Update your skills (e.g., learn a new technology relevant to your business or take a class to become more knowledgeable about a work topic)
- Attend small business networking events
- Talk to a business coach
- Set goals that push you to excel
- Mentor less experienced professionals
- Become a subject matter expert in your field
- Sidestep the fear factor and push yourself to do something you previously avoided
SCORE is one popular nationwide nonprofit organization that offers free online resources, webinars, mentoring and more tools specifically designed to support small business owners.
7. Improve Your Listening Skills
Ever heard the adage “be quick to listen, slow to speak”? This is a crucial skill to master in business. Taking this one step further is active listening. With this technique, you ask thoughtful questions and paraphrase the conversation to ensure you understand what’s being said.
Avoid interrupting, and be sure to stay on topic. Also, consider what a speaker’s nonverbal cues, such as facial expressions and tone, convey.
8. Communicate Better
Have you ever stopped to notice that we communicate in several different ways? We speak, write and use body language to express ourselves. Our communication forums can vary too, from emails to 1-on-1 conversations to conference rooms filled with people.
While you may be great at leading a group meeting of 5, you could be inexperienced when it comes to public speaking. Alternatively, you may excel at writing but find it challenging to carry a conversation.
As communication is a critical component of business, reflect on your abilities and see which areas you can strengthen through training. If your weakness is public speaking, for instance, consider attending a Toastmasters International meeting near you. The nonprofit organization is dedicated to helping business professionals improve their speaking skills.
9. Ensure a Work-Life Balance
Another top 10 New Year’s resolution is to learn when to shut down your computer and call it a day. Job burnout is responsible for health-care costs of up to $190 billion annually, according to an August 2018 CNBC report. Imagine all the things you could be doing with the money you’re likely spending on burnout recovery.
Don’t get overworked. Be sure to use your vacation time, and focus on taking care of yourself: exercise, sleep enough, eat right and spend time with family and friends. A healthy, happy worker is a more productive one.
10. Delegate When You Can
Learning how to delegate effectively is another business New Year’s resolution to add to your list. Harnessing this skill can help you eliminate stress, manage time effectively and improve team performance.
Business Tips for Your New Year’s Resolutions
By now, you’ve likely found a resolution (or two) that resonates with you. Here are some final tips to help you work toward keeping your New Year’s resolutions for business going strong.
Set SMART Goals
When you’re ready to act on your resolution, implement your changes with the SMART acronym in mind:
- Specific: Be clear about your resolution and how you’ll go about achieving it.
- Measurable: Set business goals that you can quantify.
- Attainable: Decide on business New Year’s resolutions that you can achieve.
- Relevant: Select a resolution that is strategically relevant to your business.
- Time-Bound: Define clear deadline for any goals you set.
As Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter, says, “Make every detail perfect and limit the number of details to perfect.”
Check out several SMART goal examples for small businesses to learn more.
Get an Accountability Partner
Find somebody who can help motivate you to keep your business New Year’s resolutions. This could be a spouse, coworker or friend. Think of this person as your gym spotter. They’re there to make sure you stay on track with your performance.
Track Your Progress
Throughout the year, check your progress. How do you see yourself doing with your business New Year’s resolution?
Many people don’t stick with their resolutions, often giving up early in the year. Make your business resolutions stick by critically assessing what strides you’re making toward achieving the changes you want to see. Analyze reports and collect feedback. Do whatever it takes.
Change isn’t easy, but sometimes it can make the difference between being OK and being outstanding. Choose the latter.