New Year’s Resolutions for Small Business Owners

It’s January, and you’re ready to achieve some personal New Year’s resolutions. This is the year you’ll get into better shape, or you’ll save more money. But what about your professional and business resolutions? Have you made any of those?

You should put that same energetic goal setting and focus into bettering your business. Here is our definitive list of the top 5 resolutions businesses should be focusing on in the new year:

Have a Plan

You’ve probably already done a SWOT analysis and budgeting for 2017, but the question is: how do you hit those targets? That’s easy—by planning. Every employee in your organization, including you, must have a goal that contributes to the overall success of the company. Everyone needs direction on what to do, how to do it, and when it needs to be done. (Note: be careful not to get too bogged down in the “how” your employees achieve these things; some creative and entrepreneurial spirit tends to lead to a sense of ownership and pride. We’ll talk about that a little later.)

You should spend 15-30 minutes each morning planning. This will let you focus on your goals and energize yourself. Your planning sessions are your chance to set your daily or weekly agenda, prioritize your tasks of the day/month and review progress on the specific business goals you’ve set monthly/quarterly.

Build your Network   

Make it a point to start building stronger and better connections this year. Many entrepreneurs attribute their success to their network of relationships. Your professional network needs to include, but not be limited to, clients, competitors, vendors, prospects, referral sources, attorneys, realtors, and bankers.

If you’re not sure where to go to build your network, start by joining professional organizations in your community or industry. Most organizations host events that will give you the opportunity to mingle with other professionals. Another way to build your network is by utilizing social media outlets like LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter.

The secret to successful networking is to not go in looking for what others can do for you, but instead to go in looking for ways that you can give to others. Networking is all about building relationships, and relationships are a two-way street.

Always be Learning 

A big part of success in business is to never stop learning. First, you should always embrace any updated information about products, licenses, registrations, laws, insurance, or any other topics that can make you and your organization better.

Next, pick one industry conference a year to attend that is outside your market. Then, start adding a few smaller networking events into your schedule. While attending these events, make sure you don’t waste the exposure and opportunity by dealing with issues that are happening back at the office. Listen and talk with others about their struggles and successes—it’s a great way to keep your finger on the pulse.

Invest in Yourself

Professional and personal lives are merging more and more each day. Most business owners find it hard to let go and take time away from the office, but it’s very important to recharge your batteries. Spend time with your family and friends and have fun away from work. Our challenge for you: go on at least one vacation this year without taking your work computer along, or go one day without using your work cell phone.

Another way to invest in yourself this year is to improve your physical health. This is perhaps the most valuable thing you have as a business owner. Whether you go for a morning run, hit the gym, or start one of those Beachbody workout videos, the point is to look for ways to fit exercise into your busy schedule. Regular exercise will lead to reduced stress, better sleep and improved immune system.

Get your Organizational Culture Right   

Last, but not least. This is the most important one on the list.

Culture is like personality. Organizational culture is made up of the shared values, beliefs, assumptions, attitudes, and behaviors of an entire group of employees. This can be greatly influenced by the organization’s owners, managers, and leaders, due to their role in decision making. It’s also influenced by the life experiences that each employee brings with himself or herself to work.

Anyone who has worked in different cultural environments can tell you just how important this is to get right. It really all comes down to trust and communication—how well you trust and communicate with your employees and how well they reciprocate. There are countless books, articles, workshops, and seminars that you can read or attend; however, the key is to make your employees your #1 focus. Make your work environment a place where everyone has a voice, works together to solve problems, has common goals, and puts the client first. This isn’t easy, because it requires you to be a bit vulnerable. You can’t dictate your culture. It’s vital to let the team help form it. But when it happens, you’ll have created a place where your employees enjoy coming to work, and your clients will pick up on it.