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New Year’s Resolutions, 2012

I’m torn when it comes to New Year’s resolutions — I like the idea of having goals, but I hate when people set themselves up to fail. Resolutions should be achievable, and I like action items to help move us toward that goal, whether it’s increasing business sales or losing some extra holiday pounds.

There’s nothing like January 1st to make us all evaluate how we could do things differently in the next year. Here are 3 actionable New Year’s resolutions for your business:

1. Get More Done.

There never seems to be enough time. But what if you can get more done in the time you have? If you or your team are more productive, think of what you can accomplish in the coming year. Possible action items include:

  • Identify and cut out your most time-consuming, but least-productive, tasks.
  • Don’t know where that lost time went? Track time and evaluate what tasks take the longest, and which deliver results.
  • Consider using project management software. If you use a software solution, evaluate if it meets your needs or if you’ve outgrown it.
  • Use meeting time wisely. If team meetings keep everyone organized and on task, great! Save extended one-on-one conversations for separate meetings. Consider if a phone call or virtual meeting could replace an in-person sit-down, especially if travel time is a consideration.

2. Get the Right People (and Keep Them).

Examine your current team — do you need to make any changes? Do you spend most of your time doing something someone else could do (and maybe even do better)?  If so, it’s time to hire someone. It could be a consultant or agency, a contractor, or part-time or full-time help.

  • Plan how you can afford to increase your team.
  • Choose what those persons’ skills would be. Assemble a job description, or start with a wish list of skills.
  • Decide if you can afford not to hire. This is particularly important if you have a small business. Review the benefits, not just the financial costs.

Do you have someone on your team who needs to go? Not a pleasant thought at any time, but an important question to consider in planning the coming year. If someone on your team isn’t working, look at why:

  • Is that person having difficulties with certain tasks?
  • Does he/she have the skills necessary for the job?
  • Is it fixable? Do you want to invest the time and/or money to fix it?
  • Why is he/she still working there?

Take the time to answer some not-so-simple questions and develop an action plan.  It might be a review and firmer task list, training, or putting things in place to let someone go.

If you have the people and skills you need, great! What can you do to help keep those people happy? In this economy many people are happy to have work, but it’s important as managers or business owners  to think of what we can do to keep good people happy. These all seem obvious, but in our busy lives it’s easy to forget to connect and show the gratitude we might feel. Try one of these:

  • Occasionally take them out for lunch or dinner
  • Say thank you for extra efforts and work that deserves it
  • Send them to an industry conference to increase their skill set and make some connections for your company
  • Offer additional learning opportunities on the job, or offer to send them to classes
  • Ask if there’s anything they feel would help them in their day-to-day work. Be ready to hear the answers — you don’t have to make changes, but only ask if you’re willing to hear the response.

Whatever it is, evaluate what you can afford to do, and what would be meaningful.

3. Evaluate & Expand Your Marketing for Better Sales Results.

Do you want to reach more people and make more sales? Of course! In Intuit’s Small Business Survey results released in November, 57 percent of small businesses said their top New Year’s resolution was to expand marketing to attract more customers.

Let’s not just expand marketing, but evaluate and expand. We want to get our names out there, increase our brand awareness, and make a difference in our communities. And for for-profit companies, we also want to make money.

  • Analyze what worked and didn’t work last year — this will help you create a better plan for 2012.
  • Examine which specific marketing efforts in the last 12 – 18 months have increased sales. If you don’t know, then develop systems to track marketing effectiveness, or work with an agency that can help you do this.
  • Look at what your competitors are doing — could you do it? Is it worthwhile and cost effective? What can you learn from their successes and mistakes?
  • Decide if you will increase marketing across the board, or start marketing to a new demographic.
  • Review how to best leverage your resources for 2012, and when to re-evaluate. Schedule progress check-ins, and empower yourself to make changes if something isn’t working.

Do you set personal or professional New Year’s resolutions? If so, what are your resolutions for 2012?


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