While few keep them, it doesn’t stop us from making them every year. Here are my 10 favorites for business owners.
(This is an expanded version of an earlier post.)
1. Delegate more
Mary Kay Ash said “Delegate your work. Stop spending dollar time on penny jobs.” In other words, spend your precious hours generating revenue. So, if you are in a service business and charge $100 per hour, don’t spend an hour on work you can pay someone else to do at $30 or $50 per hour (and probably do it better than you). For example, you may engage a bookkeeper to reconcile your bank and credit card statements, allowing you to focus on what you do best.
2. Think more
We all fall victim to Michael Gerber’s criticism that most small business owners spend more time working in the business than on it. To avoid this flaw, schedule time for strategic planning to focus your attention on ideas and not on routine or even pressing business matters.
Here are some activities you might do in the coming year that make you think more:
- Write or revise your business and marketing plans.
- Set up an advisory board to discuss strategic planning for your business; fix a regular time for the board to meet.
- Take time off to concentrate on business planning without company distractions.
3. Learn new things
While technology is bombarding us with new developments every day, it's important not to become shell-shocked. Make a resolution to learn how you can better use technology, such as integrating social media into your marketing plans and using AI in your operations.
New things are not restricted to technology. Consider spending time to learn a new language to help your business (e.g., service customers that speak a language other than English), take a writing or sales course, or hone some other skills.
4. Pay attention to details
Little things matter. Spending just a few minutes a day, each day, can add up to big results over the course of a year.
- Keep good books and records throughout the year can entitle you to greater tax savings when you complete your tax return.
- Maintain control over clutter by filing and tossing may require a few minutes each day but you’ll gain more time in easy assess to your stored information.
5. Promote yourself
Estee Lauder said “I have never worked a day in my life without selling. If I believe in something, I sell it, and I sell it hard.” Many small business owners fail in self-promotion because of connotations such as bragging, gloating, and grandstanding. But self-promotion is vital for your business success. If you can’t do it yourself, engage a marketing person to do it for you and budget accordingly.
6. Listen better
There are a variety of reasons why people fail to listen when other people talk: they'd rather talk, they get distracted, they are preoccupied with their own thoughts and conclusions, or they find the other person boring. Still, other people, especially your staff and customers, may have something valuable to say and you need to listen carefully.
Become an “active listener” by paying attention and keeping your mind on what’s being said. Use online tools, such as MindTools, to help.
7. Be part of your community
Small business is often the backbone of Main Street in your area. You can support Main Street by giving back to your community. Become active in your local chamber of commerce to learn what’s going on and to influence desirable changes.
Also join networking groups and participate in community events to showcase your company while giving back to the community.
8. Aim for better work-life balance
Dolly Parton said: “Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.” While your business may continually occupy your thoughts, don’t let it drain the time and attention you give to your family and to yourself. Schedule personal time so that you won’t be tempted to fill up your business calendar with work.
9. Fire problematic customers and clients
Keep the 80-20 rule in mind (that 80% of outcomes come from 20% of causes), which means you can expect to earn 80% of your revenue from 20% of your customers. You probably find that a handful of customers and clients demand more of time while producing less of your revenue, so consider parting ways. Customer Experience Insight has 6 rules for firing a customer.
10. Maintain perspective
For many entrepreneurs, their company is their baby and they take losses, criticism, and other bad news too seriously. Remembering that the worst that can happen to a business is that it goes under -- the owner isn’t put in debtor’s prison or burned at the stake -- may help you keep perspective.
Don’t forget to laugh, and to celebrate your achievements.
Will I follow all of these resolutions? Probably not, but I’ll try my best.
Here’s wishing you a prosperous New Year, and I hope all your dreams are realized.