A Dozen New Year’s Resolutions for Small Business Owners

Jan 16, 2021 | Financial Planning

Have you made any New Year’s resolutions for 2021? Resolutions usually take the form of personal goals like eating healthier or getting rid of clutter around the house. But you can also make New Year’s resolutions for your small business.

Here are a dozen resolutions for small business owners to consider implementing to succeed in the future.

1. Be Realistic About Your Goals
The start of a new year is often cause for optimism. This is especially true this year for many people who want to put 2020 behind them from both a business and emotional standpoint. Nevertheless, you must temper expectations with a healthy dose of reality.
Set goals for 2021 that are within your reach. You can’t count on a drastic turnaround in the current environment. If you shoot for the moon and fall short, it could lead to panic moves. As the old saying goes, slow and steady usually wins the race.

2. Delegate Some Responsibilities
A common problem facing many small business owners is that they try to do most of the important work on their own. But, of course, you can’t be in more than one place at the same time. Resolve to spread daily tasks among others so you don’t spread yourself too thin.
Delegating is an art, not a science. The key is to make employees feel like they aren’t merely substituting for you. Give them actual ownership of the process. Though it might be hard to relinquish control, delegating will pay off in the long run.

3. Keep Selling Your Products and Services
If you’ve been focused on keeping your head above water during the pandemic, you might have lost sight of the importance of mining for new opportunities. Marketing should remain a top priority, even if your business is struggling.
Develop a marketing plan for 2021 that establishes what you can afford to spend and what you hope to accomplish. You can fine-tune the plan during the year as conditions and needs change.

4. Evaluate Cybersecurity Measures
No business is immune from the threat of hackers or computer viruses. The risk may be even greater if you have many employees continuing to work remotely.
The best offense against cyber attacks is a good defense. Install safeguards like firewalls, anti-virus programs and email filters. In addition, train your employees on best practices when accessing files, and store backups in a secure location in case you ever need to restore your system.

5. Modify Your Business Plan
There are numerous benefits to drafting a formal business plan. However, if you develop a plan in December and fail to refer to it during the next year, you’re defeating the purpose.

Business activity rarely goes as exactly as planned. Revisit your business plan regularly to ensure it’s still meeting your objectives. At the very least, conduct a quarterly review. After you’ve analyzed the results, make any tweaks needed to get you back on the right track.

6. Make Some New Connections
In this high-tech era, a variation of old-fashioned networking can provide a boost to your business activity. While you may not be able to meet face-to-face due to COVID-19 restrictions, seize the chance to “circulate” among business associates through Zoom or other video conferences. This could lead to valuable referrals.
You might want to join a new organization or networking group online. Instead of winging it, come to each meeting prepared to discuss key talking points or special offerings.

7. Strengthen Ties to the Community
Your neighborhood, town or city has probably experienced adverse effects from the pandemic on several levels. But the downturn has also fostered a spirit of giving back to the community. People are uniting and offering various types of relief to those in need.
Are you doing your part? Consider these ideas:

  • Serve on a community committee,
  • Offer to be a mentor or volunteer your services, and
  • Make donations to worthy community causes.

Plus, your generosity will create local goodwill, and it could provide tax breaks for your business.

8. Learn New Tricks
If you’ve been running a successful business for years, you’re probably set in your ways. After all, what’s worked before is good enough, right? However, learning is a continuous process. Even the most experienced business owners can learn something new that could add to or diversify their business.

Develop a new skill or talent this year and hone it. This could translate into a new direction, novel strategic alliances or innovative processes for your businesses.

9. Rethink Day-to-Day Operations
All too often, business owners accept the status quo because it’s the most convenient or inexpensive way to handle matters. This thinking may apply to your standard operating procedures or the outdated equipment your business continues to utilize on a regular basis.
2021 may be the year you finally shake things up. Consider updating your procedures and buying (or leasing) equipment that’s most suitable for your business now and in the future. These changes will involve an initial cash outlay, but your investment could pay off with increased productivity, enhanced efficiency and lower costs over the long run.

10. Concede Mistakes
Do you suspect that you’re losing money from a particular product line, location or customer? Are you pursuing opportunities, like joint ventures or investments, that are falling short of expectations? If so, it may be time to cut your losses and move on. Take an objective view of the pros and cons of these type of situations to determine whether your business should shift its resources elsewhere.
Remember: Mistakes provide learning opportunities. Figure out what went wrong (and right) and brainstorm ways to prevent similar mistakes from happening in the future.

11. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
Business owners should focus on the big picture. Attention to detail may have made you successful in the first place, but don’t be distracted by annoying little occurrences or petty grievances.

Remain committed to the main objectives spelled out in your business plan. If something minor goes wrong, recover and then keep your eye on the prize.

12. Give Yourself a Break
Pouring your heart and soul into a business may take a toll on your mental and physical well-being. The strains of operating a small business have been unprecedented in 2020 — and the uncertainty is expected to continue in the new year.

Carve out some time for yourself and your family. Otherwise, you could burn out and take the business down with you.

New Year, New Start
This is just a sampling of potential New Year’s resolutions for small business owners. Consult with your financial and tax advisors to make your own list that suits your situation.

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