As 2013 draws to an end, you’re probably focused on closing out the year with a bang. You’ve got to think about taxes, dealing with old inventory and any other details that will help you make sure that the you can move on to next year.
But it’s important to put some plans in place for the new year, whether or not it has really started. Of course, the beginning of the year is the time for resolutions—getting some part of your life or, in this case, your business right. As we change out our calendars, we get a chance to reset things a little, particularly in a business where one year can be completely different from the years it follows.
A resolution isn’t quite the same thing as a goal, though: while a goal needs to be ambitious, something that you need to stretch to reach, resolutions tend to be more mundane. They often include those habits that you know you need to incorporate into day-to-day operations. That sense of needing to do something, whether it’s an aspect of your business you actually care about or not, contributes to how hard resolutions are to keep. Despite that difficulty, there are some resolutions worth setting in 2014—and worth keeping.
1. Document Your Internal Processes and Projects
It’s rare to think about internal documentation without a sigh. We all know we need to write down the steps necessary to run each part of our businesses—after all, if the people who know how to do each piece of work have to be out of the building, you don’t want the whole company to come to a standstill—but how often do we actually make a point to do so?
But the tools for documenting your workflow keep improving, making it harder to find excuses to avoid this particular resolution. Check out the options and commit to making a habit of documentation.
2. Practice Delegating Tasks
Even for successful business owners, there’s always room for improvement in our delegation skills. Making a point to regularly look at the workload you assign yourself to see if there’s something you can hand off to an employee—or even automate—is crucial. But it’s even more important to actually complete the handoff. If you can make a point of paying attention to how you delegate and what the results are, you’ll be able to find ways to improve—which, in turn may require sticking to other resolutions, like documenting internal processes.
3. Make Business Planning a Regular Part of Your Schedule
While it’s tempting to make business planning a once a year (or perhaps even more infrequently) task, things move incredibly quickly at every company. The assumptions you’re counting on today may not be valid a week from now.
Checking in on those assumptions, as well as updating your other business plans, should be a regular part of your schedule. Just how often depends on your own business, but somewhere between once a week and once a month is probably a good starting point. Pick a time frame that seems like a fit and block out a recurring appointment for business planning on your calendar. You can tweak the frequency as you get in the habit of attending these meetings with yourself.
4. Review Your Human Resource Policies
Especially if your business is small enough to not require a full-time human resources professional, you need to make sure that you’re updating your policies each year. This year, in particular, may present a lot of changes in terms of the benefits you may offer to employees, so you need to make sure that both you and your team are on the same page.
You may find that setting up a meeting with an HR consultant as early as possible in the year can help you keep this resolution. Doing so will also ensure that you’re aware of any relevant concerns that you might not catch without that level of expertise.
5. Revitalize Your Branding
You may be happy with your company’s brand, but consider a little spit and polish in the new year. You may not need a complete rebranding, but even a little work to more effectively promote your brand can help you get more value from the work you’ve already invested in building that brand.
Options abound, such as tying a content marketing campaign directly to your brand. You can also go deeper into branding, perhaps with an updated logo or a redesigned website.
6. Improve Your Company’s Finances
Just where you can improve the finances of your business depends on the business you’re in, but you want to make sure that you have the money available to meet those big goals you’re also setting for the new year.
Whether that means reviewing your collections processes, working to build some additional credit, or cutting costs, the odds are that you know where you can make some changes already. Actually getting the work done is the hard part (especially if you also need to be spending your time earning money in the first place). But make a point of scheduling standing appointments with yourself to review your business’s financials and to do the work necessary to improve them.
7. Take a Regular Vacation
For many business owners, it can feel absolutely impossible to actually take time away from the office—making this a resolution with some special appeal for us. But scheduling vacations is a valuable improvement if you don’t already take some time off.
Even a short vacation can provide you with the opportunity to come back to work refreshed, perhaps even with a new perspective on the products or services you sell. Of course, you do need to make sure that you can disengage from your company first, making a resolution to document your internal processes doubly important.
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