Small Business Owners, Start the Year Off Strong!

As the holiday season comes to a close and the new year quickly settles in, there are few better moments to refocus and prioritize what you need to do to get your business off to a great start in 2017.  If October, November and December (OND) were the busiest months of the year for your business, you may be ready for a vacation, or at least some time to breath and regain your energy.  But, as you know, there is always work to be done!

So what can you do to get 2017 started off with a bang?

Reflect on your business, personal life

Before you begin to feverishly compile all of your “resolutions” for the new year that will quickly turn into dust in the wind, take time to reflect on the year you just had.  Having hindsight will allow you to analyze all of your successes and failures and provides baselines for the areas you need to focus on for your business and for yourself.  We know, it is much more fun to look to the future with the excitement of change and moving forward, but you need to do the grunt work first.

Ask yourself, “what did I do well, what did I not do so well?”  Begin building a list of wins and losses from which to generate goals and come to a realistic “grade” of the year in review.  This likely won’t be an easy task–assessing past failures is tough for us humans–but it must be done.  You will quickly recognize areas that you need to direct more focus heading into 2017 and creating well-informed, realistic resolutions/goals for your business and yourself.

Don’t forget about those successes though!  Part of surviving and thriving in business (and life really) for the long haul is maintaining a positive attitude, which is easily fueled by taking the time to enjoy the victories along the way.  Life is too short to only focus on the end result, find fulfillment in getting there.  

Work on processes

Far too often small businesses and startups ignore tasks that could make their lives much more efficient and simplified, and it could be the difference in how quickly you take your business to the next level.  This is the perfect time to comb through processes such as onboarding new clients, project/task management, social media & other digital content, meeting structures etc… More of the fun stuff!  

We can sense your mood shifting as you now realize that you probably won’t be in Cancun any time soon, so here are some of our favorite quotes to help you fight the good fight:

“If you want to have what others don’t, you must do what others won’t”

Some really smart person

“If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got”

Another really smart person

While you work through these processes it is important to not drown in them either.  Treat your entire business as one big process–this will also help you focus on what’s most important.  Always keep in mind the three pillars of business process management (BPM): people, technology & process.  

Make sure you have the right people working for you and that you have created an environment that breeds success.  Part of that environment is the technology that you provide your employees with that can increase their individual efficiency, which will in turn lead to a more efficient business as a whole.  The chances that somebody has already created a device or software that can help your business are quite good, take the time to research these products.

Pile on some wins early

We aren’t talking about Charlie Sheen’s version of “winning” by the way, we are talking about something more quantifiable.  Set some short-term goals for your business in 2017 that are what John Lee Dumas of EOFire calls “SMART” goals, meaning: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant & Time-bound.  Achieving goals, big or small, to start the year off is a great morale booster not only for yourself, but your business and team as well.  Doing so will set the tone for the remainder of the year.

Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool in business when used correctly and setting achievable goals provides the groundwork for giving you and your employees some measurable accomplishments.  You’ve probably been told by a supervisor in the past that, “you’re doing so well, you’re such an asset to this company and we thank you for your hard work and dedication!” Your first thought was probably, “why am I working on Christmas then, and why aren’t you paying me more?”  We’ve all been there and we know how that type of motivation worked (or didn’t) on us, so avoid using it in your own business.  Use short-term goal setting to show real progress and exactly how it is achieved.

Lastly, make it a point to enjoy the year ahead more than any other.  Enjoy the process and the journey of getting to where you are going.  Bask in the small victories and with each failure remind yourself what you are in this for.  Don’t look too far ahead, live in the moment.  Smile at others at they walk by, have a conversation with a stranger that isn’t about the weather, and call a friend you haven’t heard from in a long time.

Happy New Year!

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