Do you make New Year's resolutions for your business? Every small business can use a little reset from time to time, and there's no better time than the beginning of the year to vow to improve or eliminate the habits that are holding you back. But business resolutions are much like dieting, it’s relatively easy to lose weight/make resolutions, much harder to keep the weight off/keep your resolutions. Here are 6 tips to help you make your New Year's resolutions stick.
1. Be realistic. You have a better chance of attaining resolutions that are within the realm of actual possibility. If you never, ever fit in exercise at all during the work day, resolving to take a 20-minute walk in the morning or at the end of the day is more likely to succeed than resolving to train for a marathon that takes place in three months. Downsizing your resolutions is better than not making them at all.
2. Set limits. It's easy to think of a dozen things we'd like to do differently in the coming year. However, if you make too many resolutions, you'll have trouble simply keeping track of them, let alone accomplishing them. Pare down your resolutions to a manageable number — three is a good measure for most of us, but even just one is fine, too.
3. Give yourself a head start. Make it easier to attain your resolutions by putting systems in place to help you succeed. For example, if one of your resolutions is to better manage your business finances this year, and you're still keeping your books on paper, give yourself the tools you need by choosing and using accounting software. Want to be more productive? A faster computer, a new smart phone or simply downloading some productivity apps could make it easier.
4. Practice makes perfect. You've probably heard it said that it takes 21 days for a new habit to stick. If you're feeling discouraged about following your resolutions, instead of giving up, try just giving it 21 days. (You’re almost there!) By that time, your new behavior may have truly become a habit. If not, decide whether you should revise your resolution, eliminate it or replace it with another one. (After all, January 1 isn't the only day of the year when you can make a resolution to change your ways.)
5. Enlist others. As the boss, if you want to transform something about the way your business runs, getting your employees on board greatly increases the chances that change will actually happen. Plus, when everyone else at your company is doing something differently, you have no excuse to go back to your old ways. Involve your employees in business-related resolutions whenever it makes sense to do so. You can even ask them for ideas about how to achieve these resolutions, or encourage every employee to make one work-related resolution for themselves. If you are all trying to accomplish a goal at the same time, you'll be more motivated.
6. Reward yourself. Messed up a resolution? I’m sure you have—I have, too. Don't beat yourself up about it. Examine what went wrong and why, then get back up on the horse. It's too easy to throw in the towel after backsliding. What's harder — but also more rewarding — is to keep on keepin’ on.
One resolution every small business owner should make this year is to get a SCORE mentor. Visit www.score.org to get matched with a mentor today and get free business advice and consulting 24/7.