T’is the season for a hearty helping of reflection and resolutions for the coming year, and plenty of individuals and business owners ride the wave. It’s hard not to; it’s in the air. But the truth is that much of this momentum goes to waste with misguided and thoughtless goals. As a business owner it would be a shame to use this time to just go through the motions. New Year’s business resolutions are pointless if they don’t bring you to where you want to go and you don’t have a plan to make them stick.
Step 1: Get the involvement and support of your team. One of the benefits of running a micro business is that it allows you to have a more cohesive relationship with your employees. There is a certain team mentality that doesn’t exist to the same extent in most bigger companies. Take advantage of it, and get your team’s input and support as you hash out your business resolutions.
If you are running the business on your own, then your “team” would be made up of outside supporters and advisers. This could be another person or a small group of people who you trust and who have the expertise to offer sound opinions and advice. You may also want to seriously consider hiring someone to help you. For example, you could hire a consultant for an hour long strategy session. I know many of you may be bootstrapping your businesses and are now dealing with a seasonal sales slowdown, but if you connect with the right person, it can easily pay for itself many times over
Step 2: Set aside the time and the place to make your resolutions. If you want to make some serious New Year’s business resolutions, then you have to make the experience a priority. Period. If you have employees and can plan a retreat- even a mini, one-day get away- that is the most ideal situation. Even if this is not possible, the time you set aside should break away from your traditional workday routine, and it should be in an environment where outside distractions are limited.
Step 3: Focus on the tangible, measurable facts. Put simply, you need to be looking at numbers… a lot of numbers. This means things like analytics, sales performance reports, expense sheets, time reports, cash flow statements, survey results, and research reports. The goal is to get a realistic overview of your business’ current performance. This doesn’t mean you can’t and shouldn’t consider the intangibles. What it does mean is that you can’t set any solid resolutions unless you have a firm understanding of where your business and the markets are currently holding.
STEP 4: Break down the opportunities and the challenges. Once you understand your current position, you now need to clearly define the opportunities for productive change as well as any challenges or obstacles that may stand in the way. You should also have a rough time line for initiating these changes. Write all of this down, either as a list or a mind map. This process will help to keep your resolutions effective and doable.
Step 5: Plan no more than 1 to 2 years out. Though you may have some long-term, overriding goals, the strength of your resolutions lie in the short-term, small details. You should try to break down your resolutions into small, actionable steps that your business can start taking right away. So, or example, if your overriding goal is to spend less time and resources on certain tasks, then you need to break down the process of becoming more efficient and/or outsourcing some work. Make sure you fully think through the process and that you include details such as who will be involved, what resources or information you will need to accomplish each task, and where you will get it all from. Write all of this down, and set aside some time to check in throughout the year in order to measure your progress.
In short, creating New Year’s business resolutions is not some “cute” idea, so don’t treat it lightly. When it’s done right, it can be an extremely powerful and profitable business process.