It's that time of year again. The time to reflect on what we didn't achieve this year (and perhaps wallow in self-pity), and make promises for the next year: that we'll change; we'll do better; we'll actually stick with our resolutions until the end.
We all know the difficulties in making New Year's Resolutions we can actually keep. We all have the best intentions for the new year: to exercise more, to spend more time with our family and friends, to have a better work-life balance, to be more motivated, to be more organized. However, by the time March rolls around, how many of these resolutions have we actually stuck with?
Small businesses are no exception. While they may have an advantage to larger corporations in terms of gaining approval from management to implement change, this doesn't automatically make them more likely to succeed with their New Year's Resolutions. The reality is, while small business owners may start the year with high expectations and hopes of what they will achieve over the year, the day-to-day activities of running a small business takes precedence over the big picture.
So if you're telling me it's virtually impossible to keep your New Year's Resolutions, then why even bother, I hear you say. Because those resolutions you came up with in that split second are too important to dismiss. They are the changes you have known for quite a while that your business needs, yet for some reason, are resisting recognizing or implementing: perhaps it's too much work, or you think it's unachievable, or you don't want to get on the bad side of your employees. You are doing nobody, including yourself, any favors for being too scared to try something new. What is the worst that could happen if you just tried?
For inspiration, our team has come up with 5 New Year's Resolutions for 2013 we believe small businesses leaders need:
1. Small Business Owners, Join a business organization or networking group specific to your industry
Industry-specific business organizations are a great way to keep up with advances in your field, contribute to the growth of your industry, make contacts and learn from others' strengths and skills. Other benefits of joining a business network group include:
■ Generation of referrals
■ Opportunities for joint ventures, presentation talks, business promotion, client leads or sales
■ Increased database of contacts
■ Increased confidence in yourself, your ability and your business
2. New Points of Customer Interaction
Whether it's blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, mobile coupons or QR codes, new ways to connect with customers seem to pop up daily. As a small business owner, you don't have to excel in every new technology or network that comes along, but you should try to be wherever your customers are. Ask your current customer's where/how they'd like to connect with you, then spend some time in 2013 to make it happen.
3. Small Business Owners, Give Your Website a Fresh New Look
In the race to master Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter for business purposes, don't overlook your own website. After all, social media efforts like Twitter campaigns end up driving traffic somewhere, right? It doesn't make any sense to build a beautiful and savvy Facebook presence that funnels people to a bland and badly designed website. Keep it current and engaging so they keep coming back.
4. Really get to know your clients and employees
While you may know their position and responsibilities, how much do you really know about the person behind the name? We're not asking you to ask them out for dinner, but it is beneficial to know these people as exactly that: people. Developing a friendship can held you build a stronger work relationship, and also gives you insights into their personality and how they approach situations. That way, when having a difficult or uncomfortable conversation with them, you know best how to approach it.
5. Set a personal goal for yourself and encourage your employees to do the same
It might be to spend more time with your family, or to complete a marathon. Whatever it is, find a way to remind yourself daily of this personal goal and take steps towards it each day. Equally importantly, consider how your business can support its employees in their resolutions, whatever they may be. Remember, employees that have a satisfying and happy personal life are more likely to be productive and motivated at work, so it is to the advantage of your business to help employees achieve these personal goals.
Sticking to 5 (or any) resolutions is a lofty goal for anyone. Develop resolutions that ring true to your business, not resolutions you think you should have. And always have a contingency plan: the resolutions you develop at the start of the year may be different to the ones your business needs halfway through the year. Recognize this, adjust as needed, and mostly importantly, never give up.