The New Year is just around the corner, and with it comes the desire to grow and be better.
I don’t know about you, but my head is starting to fill up with resolutions: small, big, simple, and complex ones. All of them are the result of those good intentions that come during New Year’s Eve.
If I had a dollar for each New Year’s resolution that I never achieved for the businesses I’ve had throughout my life, I might have saved enough for a paid trip around the world.
One day I started thinking about why I wasn’t achieving my business resolutions. I came to the conclusion that:
- It is impossible to achieve them if they’re not written down. Try to write them on a board where you can track your progress.
- If those resolutions are not aligned with your business strategy, they might sabotage or collide with it.
- If you don’t make a plan to achieve those New Year’s resolutions, you won’t achieve them.
12 New Year’s resolutions for small business owners
These 12 New Year’s resolutions are based on my professional experience and the knowledge I’ve acquired throughout my business career.
By no means is this a mandatory list. I just want to inspire you so that you and your business grow next year.
You can pick and choose whatever New Year’s resolutions resonate with you and your business.
1. Get to know the real situation of your strategy
A strategy and a business plan is not only for big companies. It is essential that you have a good strategy in action.
Any-sized business must know where it is going, how to get there, in what timeframe, and with what resources. But you need to have them in writing. Start there.
Talk to your “fellow thinkers” and contrasts with them your strategic decisions (I learned this concept in Jim Nightingale’s book, “Think Smart – Act Smart” and refers to a small list of people you trust from different fields.)
2. Find your competitive advantage
What do I mean by “competitive advantage“? It is the characteristic that differentiates your company and allows you to obtain a better performance than your competitors.
To get to your competitive advantage, Michael Porter, who coined the concept, proposed three ways:
- Cost Leadership Strategy: basically, sell cheaper than your competition (keep in mind that you will need a substantial volume and an acceptable quality.)
- Differentiation Strategy: when your product or service has a unique quality, customers will be willing to pay a little more. You need to know the market because what is valued today may change tomorrow.
- Focus Strategy: this is when you focus on a particular sector of the market and adapt to it.
3. Design products or services with your client in mind
Your product or service must provide real value to your customer. But do you sell it or do customers buy it?
Let me explain this nuance: if you sell blindly without knowing what value it brings to the customer, you are making a big mistake.
You need to reach a deep understanding with your clients so that your product or service adapts like a glove to the value they expect you to bring. Then you won’t need to sell, because clients will buy it.
4. Continually analyze the current state of your business at a financial level
I am always very insistent on paying particular attention to your cash flow (I made the mistake of not doing so my first entrepreneurial projects.)
You must have the professional tools and advice that’ll allow you to anticipate when you are going to have cash problems. The state of your finances will also determine, for example, the investments you make in your business.
I would recommend the use of financial management tools and the support of a professional to have a bright business future.
5. Rethink the value of your team
It is not easy to choose financial, tax, and accounting advisors.
What specific value does this team bring to your business? If you do not have a clear answer, perhaps one of your New Year’s resolutions needs to be to learn how they contribute and why you have them on your team.
6. Think systemically
Your business is a small system composed of people, processes, and tools.
Your success depends mostly on the proper functioning of this system. Analyze all of your processes (however simple they may seem) and improve them.
I recommend the book “Kanban from the Inside: Understand the Kanban Method, connect it to what you already know, introduce it with impact” by Mike Burrows. With it, you will get acquainted with the Kanban Method, which will allow you to visualize your workflows.
“The Fifth Discipline” by Peter M. Senge will help you start thinking systemically.
7. Analyze the real value of your social networks
What value do your professional social networks bring to your clients or potential clients?
How are you communicating what your products or services provide?
I recommend hiring professionals who can help you reflect on this. Only that way, you will be able to make savvy decisions about the time and resources you need to devote to social platforms.
8. Challenge yourself and improve every month
Do you know the Japanese word “Kaizen”? The literal translation is “change for the better.” And some integrate it under the motto “Today better than yesterday, tomorrow better than today.”
Set the challenge of improving costs, quality, and service every month.
Can you find suppliers that guarantee the same quality at a lower price? Probably, but you will need to spend time finding them.
Do you know what your customers think about the quality of your product or service? Inevitably, if you find time to talk with them, they will give you ideas to improve.
9. Have a continuous and collaborative improvement
Seek professionals that can help you improve your teamwork ability. Integrate everyone (employees, partners, suppliers, and advisors) into this new strategy. This will allow you to make your company more profitable.
By achieving better teamwork, you will see improvements in costs and quality.
10. Measure, measure… and measure again
You need to have indicators that give you data that can help you grow your business.
If you don’t use any indicators, I recommend starting with these:
- Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) = (Marketing Budget / Number of customers)
Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) = (Total revenue earned in one year, quarter, month… / Number of customers)
You don’t necessarily have to know how to calculate financial indicators (you can hire a professional to help you), but you should know how to react to them.
My advice is that you spend time getting to know and interpret business indicators. They are instruments that will help you improve and grow your business.
11. Study Lean Management
We are lifelong learners. My recommendation is that one of your New Year’s resolutions be to dedicate time to study. By this, I mean planned study, set aside time from your agenda to train, study and think.
Lean Management will be a massive boost to your business. You will learn how to reduce costs, eliminate waste, and improve the quality of your products and services.
I recommend the book “The Toyota Way: 14 Management Principles from the World’s Greatest Manufacturer” by Jeffrey K. Liker. With it, you will start learning about Lean Management.
12. Eliminate waste in your business
Taiichi Ohno, a Toyota engineer, proposed a production system based on preserving (or increasing) the value with less work. Whatever doesn’t offer value to the customer is considered a waste, and you need to do everything you can to eliminate it.
I encourage you to make it one of your New Year’s resolutions to detect waste your business to increase the value for your customer.
There are eight different types of waste. Do you want to know them? Well, I recommended a book in resolution 11, you’ll find the types in that book. Surely you find the time to read it. 😉
Are you ready for a great new year?
I hope you now feel motivated to make a change for the better and to improve your small business continuously. If you are already writing your New Year’s resolutions, then I have achieved my goal.
To achieve some of these New Year’s resolutions, you may need additional resources and specialized advice. You can count on us. In Camino Financial, we honor our motto: No Business Left Behind.
And finally, before the holidays’ hurricane engulfs you alongside with presents and dinners, I encourage you to read:
Happy New Year! See you in January to keep sharing experiences and knowledge!