For those of us running a small business, New Year’s resolutions are about more than going to the gym. Clients of mine, for example, have resolved to land bigger projects, boost their profitability, streamline processes and work less on the weekends. It’s not always easy to follow through on these decisions, though. Today, I want to share 5 easy steps to keeping your business’ New Year’s resolutions.
1 Assess the business’ strengths and weaknesses
If you haven’t set resolutions for your business, yet, start by stepping back and looking at the big picture. It’s easy to be a bit shortsighted and just focus on what’s bugging you right now, rather than considering which goals will make the biggest impact on your business-and your life! You can find an excellent way to quickly do a 360° analysis of your business in my article on creating a growth plan in 20 minutes.
2 Pick a “gold star” resolution
There are a million issues to address when running your business-and a million ideas to implement. I recommend you pick a single “gold star resolution” for your business in 2015. Most of my clients’ gold star resolutions relate to growth: a branding consultant is going after bigger contracts this year. An architect wants to add 2 new people to her team. A music teacher plans to grow his student roster by 30%. Growth goals are good because they often enable other goals, like making more money and having a bigger impact.
Other clients’ gold star resolutions relate to efficiency. A real estate brokerage plans to reduce marketing costs; a general contractor wants to streamline processes to free up time. Efficiency goals are great because they create time or money.
3 Make it measurable
We’ve all heard that goals are much more likely to become realities, if we can measure them. Measurement makes it easier to stay focused and track our progress. But some business goals are hard to quantify, so let me share some suggestions: a common goal I see is getting bigger clients or bigger projects. A good way to measure this is to choose a dollar amount that would count as “big” for you, and a number of clients of that size you want.
For example, a real estate broker I advise is going after 6 listings of $1 million or more, and 1 listing of $5 million or more. A lawyer I work with wants to grow his revenue. What we realized was that instead of tracking dollars billed, it is much easier for his two junior lawyers (who don’t think much about revenue) to think in terms of billable hours. So, he set a specific number of billable hours per month as a goal for each team member. A contractor who is streamlining processes decided to focus on writing proposals faster. The contractor measured that the average proposal takes 18 hours to prepare, and he set a goal of reducing this to 12 hours.
4 Create a dashboard
A common mistake people make after making their goal measurable is not setting up a system to make it easy to track progress. If the contractor didn’t measure how long proposals took until the end of the year, it’s not likely that he’ll make consistent progress. Instead, create a simple dashboard for your gold star resolution. A dashboard is a table where you break your goal down into milestones and record your progress along the way.
5 Communicate the goal constantly
Some people prefer to keep their goals private but I’ve found that the more people who know about your goals, the easier they will come to fruition. That’s because in business, you never know who can help.
An architect I work with told her family over the holidays about her goal to design hotels. As it turned out, her cousin has a good friend who works at Marriott. Another one of my clients, an acting coach, is ending each lesson with an update on his goal, and he is getting a bunch of referrals from his clients. A travel consultant mentioned his goal to update his website to a business partner, who happened to know a great web design firm.
Another benefit of sharing your vision is that it raises your profile in people’s minds. People want to work with successful people. So, talking about your growth goals can make you more attractive to those who want to do business with you. To maximize this benefit, use confident language. Instead of, “My goal is to double my business this year,” try: “I am working on doubling my business this year.”
Share your thoughts
What is your gold star resolution for this year? What do you plan to do to make it happen? What have you found successful in the past? Share your ideas with the community in the comments!
About the author: Evan Horowitz writes at EHAdvising.com for successful entrepreneurs who are tired of “winging it” on the business side of things. He brings his Harvard MBA and hundred-million dollar management experience to show you how to grow your business much faster and with less stress. To get simple tips to become a smarter CEO, join his free newsletter.