Once the Christmas gifts are exchanged, the wrapping paper is in the rubbish, and it’s time to take down those twinkling lights, the magic of Christmas fades fast. Instead of lamenting the end of the holiday season, it’s time to take stock of your business. Did you reach every goal last year?
Start now with setting smart goals that your business can achieve by committing to these 10 New Year Resolutions in January. Each item on this list an actionable measure that will help your business reach both short-term goals and long-term goals for the upcoming year.
1 - Arrive at work 30 minutes early, every day
Some of the most highly successful businesspeople in the world arise and report to work early every day.
These are heavy hitters. Think of Tim Cook of Apple, Indra Nooyi of Pepsi, and Oprah Winfrey. Each reports to the office earlier than most of their staff.
You might wonder why one would want to straggle into the office in the wee early hours of the morning. Here’s why.
Business owners who arrive very early report that they experience fewer interruptions during that earlier time. This is not idle time; indeed, it’s the opportunity for planning, assessing, and handling the “heavy lifting” of the business. There are no phones ringing, emails coming in, or colleagues popping in to chat. The solitude grants these busy executives the time they need to maintain organization and focus.
A lack of time is the most common reason business owners cite for failure to achieve goals. Yet, it’s often an easy challenge to overcome.
Thirty minutes, five days a week equals 2 ½ hours of extra time each week or 120 hours per year (allowing for that all-important vacation time). That is a gift to yourself of approximately 3 additional work weeks to accomplish your long-term goals!
2 - Update your business plan
Remember when you were launching your business and submitted a business plan to your investors? Unfortunately, many business owners chuck their plan aside and forget about it soon after.
That’s a mistake.
Think of a business plan as your company’s GPS. It is the guide that can carry your business wherever you want it to go. Just as you wouldn’t set out on a cross-country drive without knowing how to reach your ending point, you shouldn’t try to do business without the aid of a navigation device.
Instead, a business plan should be like a Google Doc, a living, breathing document that’s updated in real time and adjusted as your needs change.
Goal setting challenges you to continue to evolve your business and remain profitable. Use the first of the year to update your business plan. Be honest with yourself when you ask some hard questions.
Have you reached those short- and long-term goals that you set in that plan? Do you need to set new goals? How can you level up your business?
Warren Buffet once said, “Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing.” Re-evaluating your business plan will help keep you in the know.
3 - File taxes early this year
Ok. I know that’s a sore subject for many business owners.
However, it makes sense to close out last year and file your taxes as early as possible. Here are the reasons.
If the government owes you a refund check, plan to take it early and add it to your reserves, invest it, have a team retreat, or purchase inventory. It’s your money. You wouldn’t like a client to owe you money, yet you’re letting the government keep your money for several extra weeks if you don’t file your taxes.
On the other hand, you can plan early to avoid penalties for missed payments if you owe taxes. While this is not what you hope for, it does give you some time to come up with a game plan.
4 - Review your website protocol
One often overlooked part of the business is often the company’s website. As a business owner, you may have launched a website and didn’t give it much more thought. You know that your phone rings, so the website is doing its job.
However, it’s your responsibility to keep your website users safe from hackers and fraud as well as to protect your company assets. When you’re goal setting for your company, remember website safety.
Hold team members accountable for reaching benchmarks concerning website updates and maintenance, security protocols, and new projects. Also, plan time to ensure that all staff members are advised of the latest company website policies.
These measures will keep your website, visitors, and employees safe.
5 - Conduct outreach to every customer
While customer outreach sounds like a labor-intensive project, it doesn’t have to be! Conducting some type of outreach to every customer who spent money with you over the last two years is a fantastic way to raise top of mind awareness for your brand.
In addition, it sets you apart from your competition. Look to the Forbes list of companies with highly satisfied customers. The list includes giant brands like Amazon, Apple, Lexus, Chick Fil A, and FedEx.
Do they give fantastic service because they are huge companies? Or, did they become gigantic by developing a cult following through service excellence? Our best guess is that these companies delivered what customers wanted, when they wanted it, and then worked at building loyalty.
A wise and wealthy man name Bill Gates once famously stated, “We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.”
This outreach doesn’t need to be a time-consuming phone call to every customer (although it can be if you wish). Instead, your outreach can be a simple customer satisfaction survey, tailored to your business.
Your customers will feel special that you asked their opinion. Be prepared, you will get honest feedback. Use it to make adjustments or give kudos to your staff.
6 - Organize team communications
As a society, we humans are more mobile than ever. Teams work from every corner of the world. Even those who work in office settings are expected to handle a greater workload than ever. The key to success in managing either of these scenarios is efficiently creating clear channels of communication.
Emails can work for smaller teams, but as you grow, you may notice that your email box now overflows. Even worse are group email and text message chains that bring too many people into the loop.
Move your staff communications to the cloud. Use a communication and project management app that allows your team to communicate, projects to move forward, and for every team member to land on the same page at just the right time.
The time you spend identifying and deploying effective communication channels will reap the payoff of increased productivity.
7 - New Year, new sales goals
It’s the most basic business principle: your business make money to continue to grow, and the bigger the profit margin, the better for your company.
If you haven’t already set an overall sales goal, it’s not too late.
When you are goal setting, consult your newly-updated business plan to help determine your needs.
Segment your sales goal into short-term goals for each month and quarter; you’ll set long-term goals to achieve by year-end.
Use last year’s monthly sales trends to guide you on which months are flatter and during which months your company really shines. Through this careful analysis, you will know in advance to work with your sales and marketing teams to plan campaigns to raise up those valleys and be prepared to take full advantage of those peak months.
Without setting smart goals, you are leaving sales to chance. That’s not a risk that most business owners can afford to take!
8 - Evaluate your staffing needs
Because you’re planning for the best year in your company’s history, you should also take time out to look at your staffing needs.
Consider if you are adequately staffed to meet every goal you’ve set. Are some departments short- but others over-staffed? Do you have a superstar who’s been overlooked but could use some recognition?
Staffing issues have been known to cause business owners to want to tear their hair out or go back to being a one-person operation.
A successful business requires a dedicated, strong team. Identify your strongest team members and enlist their help in staff development and training.
9 - Trim excess inventory
Every business is selling something. Whether you’re selling physical goods at a boutique, menu items at a restaurant, eyebrow waxing at a spa, or even digital assets online, you only make money when you sell profitable products.
Take time to learn more about your inventory. It’s one of those things that slips past business owners. We make assumptions that a particular service or item will become a hot seller based on personal preference; we are later staggered to learn that customers did not embrace it.
It happens all the time.
If you’re selling services, and a particular service is not selling well, or if you make only a tiny profit on it, now is the time to drop that service.
Have excess inventory that didn’t sell through last year? It’s time to promote it through your marketing channels and liquidate it to free up cash and warehouse space. Just like 2018, it’s time for out with the old.
Embrace these changes and look at them as a lesson learned.
10 - Celebrate the New Year with your team
Now that you’ve invested the time to organize, set smart goals, and reshaped both your thinking and your expectations, it’s time to share the changes with your team.
Kick off the New Year and your new attitude about your business by celebrating with your employees, the team who will help you take it to the next level.
Host a “New Year Kick-off Celebration” that encourages your staff to look forward and eagerly anticipate all the great things ahead for your company rather than looking back in the rearview mirror. Don’t forget to add fun team-building games to develop team rapport.
2018 is over, and 2019 is unfolding in front of us like a book. What will your story look like? Remember that you are the writer of your own tale.
Commit to these New Year Resolutions to help carry your company forward and may 2019 be a successful year for you.