It’s that time of year again. The time to reflect on what we did and didn’t achieve this year and make promises for the next year. Small businesses are no exception.
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 take precedence over the big picture.
For inspiration, I have come up with 13 New Year’s Resolutions for 2013 I believe small businesses leaders need:
1. Join a business organisation or networking group specific to your industry:
Industry-specific business organisations are a great way to keep up with advances in your field, contribute to the growth of your industry, make contacts and generate referrals and learn from others’ strengths and skills.
2. Give something back your community:
There are many not-for-profit organisations that work tirelessly in our communities to provide necessary services. However, they can’t do it all alone – find a cause that really matters to you and your business and give what you can, whether that is time, money or your expertise. Aside from the obvious personal benefits of giving back, there are many solid benefits for your business such as developing new relationships, broading your knowledge, indirect market exposure or even business tax deduction.
3. Learn a new skill (and encourage others to do so as well):
Learning a new skill will not only help you as an individual develop a more diversified skill set and increase your proficiency, but it is also beneficial for the business as it can lead to a decrease in the cost of resourcing and nurtures a team-oriented environment.
For those still in denial about the power of social media, give up. With over 175 million registered users, LinkedIn is the professional network you need to join. An up-to-date LinkedIn profile helps you stand out from the crowd, allows you to market your skills and abilities and helps you build your business and professional contact base.
Figure out how you can bring you to work, operating within the values of your business. And conversely, figure out how you can bring what you represent and value at work into other facets of your life. If the two are vastly different, you need to ask yourself why your business is so out of line with what you personally believe in. If your business is supposed to be a representation of yourself, then what is your business saying?
6. 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? I’m not asking you to ask them out for dinner, but it is beneficial to know these people as exactly that: people.
7. Learn to spot strengths in others and forgive them for not having the same strengths as you:
It is easy to assume that things we find easy to do should be easy for everyone. In reality though, everyone has different strengths, and what may be your strength is not necessarily someone else’s, and vice versa. Learn to let go of the belief that everyone should be able to do what you can do and you will increase your ability to get the most out of your staff and achieve your desired outcomes.
8. Take a holiday and encourage your employees to do the same:
It’s been a busy year: Take some time while you can to rest and recuperate so you can be at your best.
Did you deliver in 2012? The Christmas and New Year period is a time when most employees have a few days off to reflect on what they have achieved during the year. If your business has been slack in engaging in meaningful and ongoing conversations with your employees, or failing to follow up on agreed actions, then you may have some disgruntled employees on your hands. Take this time to review your T&D strategy and see if your actions are aligned to that strategy – if not, fix it!
10. Encourage a healthier workforce:
It’s no secret that healthy, happy people make more productive employees (with less sick days!). However, while we have all had the New Year’s Resolution to exercise more regularly or eat healthily, we often give up soon after, especially if there is no one to support or motivate us. Make the effort to show your employees that you care for their health and wellbeing, and you’ll be rewarded with happier, more motivated employees.
11. Put a positive spin on each obstacle that’s thrown your way:
For every bad situation you find yourself in, ask yourself the following questions: What can I learn from this experience? And what can I gain from this experience? Choose your response to each situation, for you are in charge of how you feel. Choose to make your outlook positive, and you’ll reap the benefits of growing both personally and professionally.
12. Take a moment to consider your compliance obligations:
Boring as all hell, but crucial to the success of your business. When was the last time you checked your WHS obligations, or that you were paying your employees under the correct Award rate? Have there been any recent changes to employer obligations, or are there any coming up that you need to be aware of? Do you know how these changes will impact on your business? There’s no better time than the present to get your business organised.
13. Set a personal goal for yourself and encourage your employees to do the same:
Whatever it is, find a way to remind yourself daily of your 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.
Sticking to 13 (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. Recognise this, adjust as needed, and mostly importantly, never give up.