The new year is just a few days away, and while most people focus on personal resolutions like losing a few pounds and waking up earlier, you, as a small business owner, must also set business resolutions. We asked five recognized small business experts to share their best advice on creating new year’s goals that will set you on track for a great year, and the following is what they generously shared.
Use the 10% Rule
Anita Campbell, founder, CEO, and publisher of Small Business Trends, recommends employing the 10% rule in 2016. “Strive just to change or improve by 10%,” Campbell suggests. “Not 100% or 200% or anything like that, because then you build a mountain for yourself to climb with a humongous goal to meet. When the stress piles up, just focus on smaller incremental goals (like 10%!).” With this mindset, goals become far more attainable. The 10% rule gives you room to “take some deep breaths,” Campbell notes, “and before you know it that 10% here and 10% there will add up.” What you’re left with is a fulfilling sense of achievement, minus the stress. However, Campbell advises entrepreneurs to avoid beating themselves up if there are bumps in the road. “Go easy on yourself,” she says. “Be forgiving or the self-imposed guilt will eat you alive.”
Improve Your Record Keeping
Barbara Weltmann, founder and owner of Big Ideas for Small Business, proposes becoming a better record keeper in the upcoming year. Keeping diligent records allows entrepreneurs to develop an accurate understanding of business success and even optimize tax results. “Use apps for tracking your vehicle mileage and your travel and entertainment costs—scan receipts and toss the paper,” Weltmann suggests. She also advises entrepreneurs to work with a tax expert over the course of the year for the best results.
Deborah Shane, repeat Small Business Influencer Champion, suggests maintaining a discerning outlook. “Being a successful entrepreneur with staying power is best achieved by putting in place and taking on things that work for you and your goals,” Shane says. “Be selective and strategic about sales, marketing, and apps you choose.” Every choice should only serve to bring you closer to your goals, rather than complicating your progress. “Don’t do things because they are ‘hot at the moment,’” Shane advises. “Do things that are fundamental and essential to your growth and success.”
Revitalize Your Business Plan
Holly Reisem Hanna, entrepreneur behind The Work at Home Woman, recommends refreshing your business plan for the new year. “The end of the year is a great time to take a look at what’s been successful, what needs improvement, what needs to be added, and what needs to be cut,” Hanna says. Even the busiest entrepreneur has the time to put together a one-page plan for the new year. Hanna suggests focusing on areas of marketing strategy, price structure, target audience, staffing/outsourcing needs, and improvements for your product or service. “Once you go through and address these areas, you’ll have a clear-cut plan that will give you direction throughout the year,” she assures.
Focus on Your Goals
Polly White, one half of small business expert duo Doug & Polly, offers advice that centers on achieving goals—not just dreaming about them. “For motivation, set stretch goals,” White says. “Not so hard that they are impossible, but not so easy that you don’t have to push yourself.” Finding that middle ground is a sure path to success. White also asserts that goals are only dreams if they aren’t written down. “Get out your pen and commit!” she says. “To move forward, break goals into small action steps and determine who will do what by when.” This method works especially well for entrepreneurs who work in teams and need to assign tasks, but be careful to hold everyone accountable to those deadlines—even yourself. Finally, White reminds goal-driven entrepreneurs to “review your goals and actions to make sure they will get you the results you want—if not, be willing to revise.”