28 Dec 2012

Making New Year’s Resolutions for Your Business

Many of us make personal New Year’s resolutions at this time of year – lose weight, stick to a budget, spend more quality time with family, and so on. But have you thought about making some resolutions for your business in the new year?

It’s a great idea to create some resolutions or goals for your business in 2013. If you don’t want them to go the way of many New Year’s resolutions, however, you will need to put some real thought into them. After all, what is possible for you and your business will vary depending on more factors than I have room to list. I can’t stress enough the importance of knowing yourself, and knowing your field.

With that basic knowledge in hand, I recommend that you create your goals or resolutions such that they are achievable, specific, measurable, modular, and written down. Checking your business resolutions against these five ideas will give you the best chance for success. Let me walk you through each of them.

Achievable and Specific

An achievable resolution is one that you can realistically accomplish. Tripling the size of your business is probably not achievable, depending on your field – but growing it by 25 or 50 percent might be. This is why I mentioned how important it is to understand your own business: know your company, your field, your rivals, your customers, and what factors influence all of the players. You need to grasp this information fully to know whether the goals you’re setting can actually be achieved.

Making your resolution specific means taking the general language that we often use at first and, in effect, “drawing a picture” of what it looks like in the real world. For example, say that your business resolution is to deliver better customer service. What does this look like? Will all of your representatives remember to say “How can I help you?” and “Have a nice day”? Will you resolve customer issues more quickly? Will you make your website easier to navigate and reduce the number of steps in the check-out process? All of these, and more, could fall under the heading of improving customer service; getting specific about your resolution will help you to achieve it, and to know when you’re reaching your goal.

Measurable, Modular, and Written Down

A measurable resolution is one that you can, well, measure. Increasing your profits by a certain amount or a certain percentage is a measurable goal. Reducing the number of customer complaints is also a measurable goal, especially if you’re trying to reduce it by a percentage. Creating and maintaining a blog is NOT a measurable goal, although it sounds like one. It takes almost no effort to create a blog, but it can be a lot of effort to maintain one. If you want to make blogging into a measurable goal, add some numbers: how many times a week or a month will you blog? What word count will you shoot for in your posts? You need to be able to measure your goals in some way, or you won’t be able to tell when you’ve achieved them.

Now you may be wondering what I mean by a modular goal or a modular resolution. Well, many of us make major resolutions, and don’t realize immediately that we’ve bitten off more than we can chew. Then we take one look at what we hope to accomplish and feel overwhelmed. If your resolution is modular, you can break it into smaller chunks and get a little bit done at a time. By breaking a big goal into smaller goals, you can get a sense of accomplishment quickly – and those positive feelings will help you keep going until you get all the way through. For example, 52 blog posts sounds like a lot, but it’s really only one a week. Pat yourself on the back each week you get one done, and you’re well on your way to happily achieving your goal.

Finally, why is it important that your business resolutions be written down? It’s a way to hold yourself accountable, and make sure you don’t forget. Don’t write them down and bury them in a drawer somewhere; put them where you can’t avoid looking at them. Let them stare back at you as reminders for what you hope to accomplish this year. If you’ve chosen business resolutions that you can truly achieve, you’ll have plenty to celebrate this time next year. Good luck!