While few keep them, it doesn’t stop us from making them every year.
Here are my five favorites. (This is adapted from an article published in Big Ideas for Small Business® in 2011.)
1. 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.
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.
New things are not restricted to technology. Consider spending time to learn a new language, 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.
- Keeping good books and records throughout the year can entitle you to greater tax savings when you complete your tax return.
- Maintaining control over clutter by filing and tossing may require a few minutes each day but you'll gain more time in easy access to your stored information.
5. 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.
Here’s wishing you a prosperous New Year, and I hope all your dreams are realized.