As an entrepreneur, it’s important to reflect on your progress and resolve to improve and grow your business as each new year approaches.
This begins with evaluating your successes and failures over the past 365 days, learning from your mistakes, pinpointing areas for expansion, and developing simple resolutions to enhance your company.
We’ve outlined several small business resolutions for your business to adopt and strengthen your presence in the new year.
1. Refine Your Goals
A new year means a new set of goals. If you are just launching a startup company, setting goals is a pivotal step in your first year of business. For those who have been in a business awhile, it’s important to revisit and refine previous goals.
For instance, you may want to review your business plan and try to develop new objectives, and regularly refer to these throughout the year.
Sit down with your co-owners, partners, or even hold a brainstorming session with your employees to generate ideas for measurable objectives. Don’t forget to document these plans for reference.
2. Launch or Accelerate Your Online Presence
Whether you own a quaint retail shop with ten employees, or you work as an independent contractor for various clients, you need to have an online presence.
Start by creating social media profiles for your business if you haven’t already. Join the social networks where your customers are, and make it easy for them to find you. Spread your efforts around to determine which platform (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc.) is going to gauge the most interest with your clientele.
For instance, if you are a freelancer, you may want to set up a LinkedIn profile to network with other entrepreneurs. Alternatively, if you own a bakery, a Pinterest account could be the perfect platform for you to share recipes and new products.
If you already have a strong social persona, there are likely ways you can increase your engagement. Experiment with paid advertising, community building, holding special promotions, and posting regular content about your business or industry that your followers will find interesting.
The key to a successful online presence is consistency. If you don’t have time personally, ask an employee who is socially inclined to manage your accounts.
3. Better Understand Your Customers
To attract new customers, and entice them to purchase again, you should try to better understand who they are and what matters to them.
This means communicating with and researching your audience. Ask customers to take surveys and offer feedback on your business. Customer analysis and input can not only lead to repeat business, but insight into how to improve your current product or business model.
4. Invest in High ROI Areas
If you’ve only been in business for a short time, you may have an idea where you should expand but not necessarily if it will bring you a high return. Invest in areas where you think you can grow, like marketing or product development. This may also be a good time to seek out advice on how to scale efficiently from a business mentor or other experienced entrepreneurs.
For those who have held a steady business for a few years, you may know where your high ROI areas are and how to work them to your advantage. Consider putting more resources towards the efforts that are going to bring in the highest return, or invest in making your business more efficient (e.g. purchasing new equipment or renting extra office space to accommodate for growth).
5. Find a Work-Life Balance
This resolution may seem counter intuitive, but many small business owners rarely take time off. They work all year round and often at the expense of spending time with their families.
While it may be hard to pull yourself away from your work, this is a necessary and productive practice. It gives you a much needed break, and provides perspective to you as well.
Try to find a schedule that works for you and your priorities. Whether that means working for one month, then taking two weeks off, or working longer days so you can have a four day work week, make sure you are taking regular breaks to recharge.
6. Learn from Past Mistakes
The road to success is rarely paved, so expect some bumps along the way.
Did you make mistakes last year?
Think about what went wrong, what you learned from it, and how you can avoid these mistakes in the future. Write down these challenges and anticipate a plan for how you would deal with it if it happened again.
7. Hire Strategically
If you are planning to expand your team in the new year, approach your recruiting efforts strategically, and evaluate your cost per hire, the area or position you currently need filled, and the tasks you plan to complete this year.
For instance, if you have a short term project to update your website (or create social media profiles), this work may only take a few months to complete. Instead of creating a new position, it may be more cost-efficient to hire a consultant temporarily.
Conversely, if you need an extra sales associate on the floor because your sales have increased steadily in the past quarter, recruiting an extra full or part time employee may be in your best interest.
8. Learn More About Your Industry
There is no shortage of new things to learn about running a business, managing employees, or the latest advances in your area of expertise. Resolve to keep learning, or attend at least one class or conference to expand your horizons. Staying up-to-date on changes in your industry, gaining new skills, or simply networking with other small business owners can add immense value to your company.
9. Be the Boss You Would Want to Have
As the job market gets increasingly competitive, more employers are vying for the top talent. Create an inspiring workplace where you yourself would want to work if you were an employee. Exercise values of professionalism, creativity, innovation, and safety to keep your employees motivated and interested in their work.
10. Get Organized
Some of the simplest resolutions can be the most challenging. If you struggled with keeping your books organized last year, or you are not yet prepared for the upcoming tax season, you may want to consider hiring someone to help with filing or administrative duties. You’ll feel much better knowing everything is in order.
Make the New Year Count
A new year is exciting for everyone, especially new business owners who are continually refining their goals and scaling their enterprise upward. Take this time to plan out 2015 and make it count by focusing on areas you want to improve and learning from past mistakes. As long as you are moving forward, you are heading in the right direction.