Self-improvement is great, but don’t forget about setting new goals for business improvement
The New Year always brings with it personal aspirations to make big changes, try new things and set goals for the upcoming year. But what about your business? Have you taken the time to map out the best New Year’s resolutions for your business to grow, improve profits and drive the numbers up and to the right?
Personal New Year’s resolutions are common, but despite all the efforts we put into improving ourselves for the New Year, we overlook taking a long view to plan improvements for our businesses.
Here are some of the top New Year’s resolutions for your business:
Exercise more — perform a SWOT analysis and plan for the future
A business is a living organism, and just like any muscle group you need to work it to keep it in shape and build up your strength.
Start planning for the future and look at one-year business goals, three-year goals and even seven-year goals. Work with your leadership team and managers to map out where you want the company to go and the individual steps you need to make to get there.
The previous year is behind us, and if you’re like the rest of us you probably have several projects you didn’t get to. We understand how easy it can be for cannonball projects to eat up your time and your team’s. But if you’re only bailing water and putting out fires you’ll have no room — or time — for growth.
Perform a SWOT analysis and take off the blinders; look at the key business objectives your team can tackle to plan for growth strategically.
How to do a SWOT analysis
First, ask yourself these five questions before you start. Then get together with your team, discuss, debate and identify the following:
- Strengths: What is your team and business particularly good at?
- Weaknesses: What is your team and business bad at (what are your objective disadvantages)?
- Opportunities: Where is there potential for growth or to utilize your strengths?
- Threats: What external (or internal) things could slow down your business or cause problems?
Remember, even if you need to change the plan as you get rolling, you are much better served to have mapped out a plan and have a strategy in place for the New Year.
It’s OK to be agile and willing to change if the need arises. Just be sure there is a real business reason — backed by data — why you should change something, and that you’re not just giving up on something that’s a bit difficult.
Lose weight — revisit processes and trim the fat away from old methods
As a company grows it can acquire a pile of traditions, processes and methods that become set in stone. Maybe there is no real reason behind why something is done the way it is.
Take a holistic look at the processes you have in place. Identify where they work and where they don’t. If you are a manager or have a supervisory role, talk to your frontline employees who are expected to follow these processes. Encourage them to be honest and provide feedback; you’ll be surprised how many times they can point out holes, unnecessary steps, duplicate tasks and where bloat could be removed.
Then get to work with the scalpel! Having your team onboard for process changes helps to streamline flow (so everyone is on the same page), but don’t hesitate to cut out processes that are cumbersome. And be willing to completely trash old processes that no longer do what they were designed to.
You want your business to be lean and agile in the New Year, not bogged down by self-inflicted bureaucracy and red tape.
Get organized — automate tasks and combine redundant systems
It’s easy for desks to build up piles, computer displays to fill up with files, business card stacks to tip over and Excel sheets to overflow with data.
Most small businesses get to a point where they have a lot of data in multiple disparate systems that don’t talk to each other. Get organized by finding a new system where data can be easily shared across departments, roles and titles. Unlock your data so you can make better informed business decisions. Minimize bottlenecks and expenses by eliminating redundant systems and consolidating your activities into a comprehensive professional services automation (PSA) platform.
Identify tasks and communications that are repeatable and automate them in a system with workflows that trigger when you need them to. Free up your team’s time and break down the data silos hiding your business information.
Read more books — foster a company culture where continued learning is encouraged
Reading more books is often one of the top New Year’s resolutions. We are a company of readers and passionate about continued learning. We would encourage you to roll this mindset into the natural fabric of your own business.
Foster a company culture where reading and continued learning is encouraged. Multiple studies show reading is good for you on several levels: you have science in your corner! And you only help yourself and your business by having a more open-minded and educated workforce.
Suggest books for your team, start a mini library where anyone can borrow a book, make sure your team knows it’s OK if they kick up their feet and read for a bit in a book that’s relevant to their job. Earmark a fund for books in the budget. Ask your team what they would like to read. You may be surprised to find how many of your people are interested in reading a new book on marketing, sales, business growth or leadership strategies.
The best leaders are the best readers, and you should be in the business of helping your team to learn and grow.
Spend more time with family and friends — both for you, and your team
It’s important to have a healthy balance between work and home — not just for you but for your entire team. Employees that are stretched thin and to the breaking point do not perform at peak efficiency.
When you plan for your business’s future with strategic goals and through measured, intentional activity, you set your team up for success and targeted growth — and for actually clocking out at 5 at the end of the day.
When you tackle items on this list you may go through a bit of a pinch while you change processes, automate tasks and get organized, but when you come out on the other side your team will be stronger, leaner, more efficient and ready to tackle the next year’s goals.