Do you make New Years Resolutions? For many of us personally these have become a bit outdated, a bit of a joke that we know will fail in mid-January. But if you re a business owner then having business goals is a very good idea, and why not set them at the beginning of a New Year?
Take time to take stock – how did your business go in 2021? If you have just started up, it’s quite likely that you found it a slog with all the restrictions that there have been. But as we come to the end of the year, it’s good to reflect on the things that went well and the things that were not so good, and to set yourself areas to improve on for 2022.
Sometimes it’s simply a case of getting the back end and admin stuff sorted and a bit more efficient, giving you more time and space for the fun creative part, and the outgoing selling part.
Here are some tips for the kind of New Years Resolutions that can really make a difference. Some of them are the not-so-fun boring bits – if you find you feel resistance to those as you read them, then maybe it’s a sign that this is really what you need.
New Years Resolutions for Small Business Owners
Are you the type of person who has a clearly defined list of tasks to do every day? Do you tackle the scary challenging things alongside the boring things and the fun things, or do you find that you gravitate to the most enjoyable things first and endlessly procrastinate those tasks that you find difficult or uninteresting?
When you set up a small business, you are responsible for all of the things – you don’t have anyone you can delegate the grotty stuff to. So getting a proper system in place that reminds you to work on the not-so-fun stuff alongside the fun stuff, will really help. Some people like to use a printable planner – others use an electronic system like Trello or Toodledo, but whatever you use, try to fins a system of sorts and stick with it. This may seem a bit much when you are just starting out, but you will be glad of this when you start to scale up.
Having a list of deliverables for the day will help you get most things done and help you know what you did not manage to do, so you can organise yourself better the following day.
Keep Updated and Detailed Business Records
Even if you are a sole trader and not yet making enough money to have to declare or pay tax, it is still important to keep good records of your business. If you are not familiar with bookkeeping and the records you need to keep, or the tax requirements where you live, then get some professional advice, or do some research on your country’s government website (www.gov.uk in the UK)
Keeping good records will help you keep in touch with the progress of your business financially. Moreover, it enables you to identify the challenges that may arise, and gives you enough time to make strategies to get over them. It’s also a very good idea to open a business bank account to keep your business finances separate from your personal affairs. It will help you track how you spend and manage your capital and profits.
Study Your Competition
Healthy competition is great for your business – it’s something to be welcomed rather than feared. A market with quite a few competitors suggests an area where there are also plenty of willing customers. You should see competition as something to learn from to help improve your business.
It’s definitely a good idea to keep a close eye on others who are selling in your industry. Sign up for their newsletters and look at the products and services that they are offering, and the messages and images that they put out on their social media. You don’t have to copy them directly, but you may be able to spot some trends or ideas that you can incorporate into your own business.
Consider Your Risks and Rewards
Taking calculated risks (within the boundaries of what you can afford) to help your business expand, can help you grow and make your business profitable. However, first, ask yourself what the downsides could be for your business if your risk backfires. A little bit of idle daydreaming and the occasional leap into the unknown goes a long way in business, but make sure that you have considered all possible outcomes and weighed up the likelihood of each before you take the plunge.
Get your Creative Hat on
what skills, talents, and quirks do you bring to the table that make you unique and different from others in your niche? after you have looked at the competition can you think of something interesting and original that you could offer that would set you apart?
It could be something as simple as your cultural heritage, your age, or a hobby or interest that you have that might complement the main niche of your business. Maybe you can offer a little extra something alongside your existing range, or maybe it’s the way you promote yourself that will make people sit up and take notice. Perhaps you need to try video, or use a different platform to promote yourself, such as Instagram reels or TikTok, for exmple.
Have some fun and experiment a bit to see if you can find something that works – then exploit your options to improve your business such that it becomes unique from your competition. A business mentor or coach might be able to help you with this.
Give Top-Notch Service
You probably already feel that your business is offering the best service, but if you did not see the results you wanted last year, then maybe you should consider what else you could offer, in order to improve the overall customer experience?
Be Ready To Make Sacrifices
At the end of the day, a lack of success may simply mean that you did not invest enough time and energy into your business. If you have a family as well, and you are trying to find some space for yourself, it is hard to get the balance right, but if you are not getting the results that you desire it may be that some more of the “life” element has to be cut back in order to find time for a little bit more “work”, especially in the short term.
Starting a small business and ensuring that it is successful is not easy. You will have to put a lot of time and energy into your business to succeed in most markets. Taking the time every so often to assess where you are and look at your strengths and weaknesses is a very useful exercise to keep you on track.
Whether or not you consider them New Years Resolutions, it is always good to have a set of business goals that you are working towards, and that you revisit regularly, and a system of daily tasks in order to steer you towards them.