The practice of making resolutions on New Year’s Day is rooted in ancient times. Historians credit the Babylonians with making the first resolutions approximately 4,000 years ago. Although the Babylonian new year began in March, the people promised their gods to return borrowed items and pay their debts during a religious festival held to mark the start of a new year. The Romans also celebrated the new year by promising good conduct in the coming year as part of a religious ceremony. Today, resolutions tend to be a secular practice in which people make promises to themselves. If you are an entrepreneur who is planning to make a few resolutions, here are some that you might want to consider.
1. Resolve to Achieve a Better Balance Between Your Personal Life and Work
As an entrepreneur, you have a great deal riding on your company. You likely spent many long, lonely hours to launch your business, and you probably still have a workweek that far exceeds the standard 40 hours. However, your personal life could be suffering from your work commitments.
• Ask yourself whether your conversations outside of your office tend to be focused on your company. Although it is natural to want to boast about successes or share concerns, your friends and family members might prefer to discuss their own hopes, dreams, and problems for a change. They might even start avoiding your calls or stop inviting you to attend functions with them.
• Ask yourself when you last read a novel by your favorite author, went to the movies, took a leisurely stroll through the park, or attended a family function. If you have not made time for fun since you launched your business, you need to carve out a little personal time for yourself. Being an entrepreneur is often stressful, but you can help relieve stress by taking the time to do something fun.
2. Resolve to Become Better at Delegating
Entrepreneurs often feel that they can do every task better and faster than anyone else. Remember that you do not have to do everything just because you can do anything. Learn to let go of some of the control you have been maintaining. Start with simple tasks that you can assign to a trusted employee or family member. As your confidence in them increases, give them more tasks. Effective delegation is the key to giving yourself more time to handle the tasks that only you can manage. You should be looking for new opportunities and planning your company’s future rather than searching the internet for the best price on ink cartridges for your printer or going to the hardware store to pick up a new pair of pliers.
3. Resolve to Establish a Training Program for Your Employees
You should never underestimate the value of well-trained employees. They will be more productive, and the increased productivity will make them happier. Employee training should consist of two different types that frequently overlap.
• Train them on how to do their jobs better. Teach them the shortcuts you have learned, show them how to improve their accuracy, and help them develop the skills that they will need to master if they are to advance their careers.
• Cross-train employees so that they can step into another job if someone is absent, quits, or is overburdened. Every employee needs to be thoroughly trained on at least one other employee’s job. This includes the fundamentals of performing the routine tasks as well as information on where files are saved on the computer or in filing cabinets.
4. Resolve to Give Serious Consideration to Your Succession Plan
It is incorrect to assume that succession planning is only for major corporations. Even a small company needs to have a plan to replace key people when they retire, quit, or become incapacitated. Depending on the nature of your business, you might need to plan for the replacement of a production superintendent, sales manager, accountant, marketing manager, maintenance supervisor, or information technology manager. You might even want to consider who would replace you if you decide to retire or suffer a severe injury.
• Identify current employees who might be good fits for each key position.
• Evaluate each employee’s skills, training, and experience for the position under consideration.
• If necessary, discuss with these employees the education or training they would need to acquire to be considered as candidates.
• If you cannot identify any potential candidates, use your succession plan to help shape your hiring practices.
5. Resolve to Safeguard Your Health
When people work a lot of hours, it is common for them to consume a great deal of fast food, skip exercising, and short themselves on their sleep. This can lead to a compromised immune system that lacks the ability to fight off diseases. A poor diet and lack of exercise can lead to weight gain and can also place them at greater risk for diabetes, hypertension, and other chronic diseases. Furthermore, the combination of too little sleep, too much unhealthy food, and too little exercise can fog the brain, making it more difficult to focus or to make judicious decisions. To complicate matters, many entrepreneurs feel that they do not have the time to visit their physicians for routine physicals. If you value your company, you should value your health. You will be more effective if you are physically and mentally healthy.
6. Resolve to Keep Learning
It has been said that the key to keeping your mind sharp is to keep learning. No matter how much you know, there will always be more that you can learn. Fortunately, there are many ways to learn without attending formal classes. There are many free tutorials on the internet, and your local library probably has a number of books on any subject that you want to explore. This year, consider focusing on one area from the following list.
• Technology: The world has gone digital in a big way. If terms such as connected devices, smart homes, artificial intelligence, and cloud computing leave you scratching your head, you might want to focus on this area. You could learn ways to automate routine tasks, save money by moving to the cloud, or discover new products that your company might offer or develop.
• Finance: Even if you have a trusted accountant or an in-house accounting department, you should know at least the fundamentals of finance. You need to understand which accounts appear on the balance sheet and which appear on the income statement, the filing deadlines for the various tax returns and deposits, and how to account for inventory. You might want to learn how to prepare or analyze a statement of cash flows, age receivables, and payables, or create a reserve account to cover inventory shrinkage.
• Psychology: You may not realize it, but every time you interact with a customer or an employee, psychology comes into play. At its most basic, psychology is simply understanding people’s behaviors and motivations. Psychology can help you resolve conflicts between employees, improve customer loyalty, or motivate employees.
• Marketing: Modern marketing goes far beyond advertising your business. Social marketing uses social media sites to nurture relationships with customers or enhance brand recognition. Automated email marketing can keep customers who signed up to receive your messages informed about special offers or news about your company. Press releases are meant to inform the public of honors and awards your company or its employees have received, announce the opening of a new location, or convey relevant, timely news about the company.
When choosing your resolutions, be sure that you make them actionable and achievable. Actionable resolutions are those that involve things that are under your control. Achievable resolutions are those that you have an actual chance of keeping. Furthermore, you should avoid making so many resolutions that you are overwhelmed by them. Even one resolution that you can keep throughout the year can bring positive results that could help you achieve greater personal and business success.