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10 New Year Resolutions for Your Small Business

Maybe you’re a fan of annual resolutions, and you love the feel of drawing up lists of aims you’ll be chasing after for twelve months. Perhaps you’re on the other side of the spectrum: you’ve given up on this ritual (or you haven’t ever tried it), and you mock the very idea that anything good can come out of scribblings made at the start of another 365 days of a life. Whatever you think of new year resolutions, you could at least agree that setting goals and pursuing them isn’t really a bad thing.

In fact, business owners are better off having plans for the new business year, especially if the regular calendar is what they work with. Of course, many resolutions are so watery and unspecific in their descriptions that they are barely actionable. But what can possibly be wrong with having a detailed set of measurable, time-tied ambitions for the coming business period? Surely, it’s much better than wandering rudderless through a whole year and picking up ‘whatever comes your way.’ How about resolving to get your business out of debt (if that’s an issue you have), or adding to your community of loyal paying customers?

The whole point of the resolutions tradition is that people- whether they’re individuals or organizations -want to get better. Your business can rise to new heights of success this year, but it’s up to you to envision this and to make it happen. A properly written resolution could be the beginning of this process.

Here are ten resolutions your business can run with.

  1. Plan your moves before making them

If you had the ‘freestyle’ approach to running your enterprise, it might be costing you a lot more than you realize. Think what you could achieve if you planned your budget beforehand, if you closely considered the options for publicity before splashing scarce cash on the one you choose, or if you were more circumspect in deciding what suppliers you used. Make it your aim to not make rushed decisions about any aspect of your business. Plan ahead, and do so more regularly and more intelligently.

  1. Learn something new

The best entrepreneurs are eternal learners. There’s an obvious reason for this: if you’re keen on knowing more about things, you’ll gather more information about them. The more knowledge you have of the world around you, the better you’ll be at exploiting it to your advantage.

Sharpen your intellect and bolster your creative senses. Read as much as you can- business-related material, but also other general, reflective stuff -and watch videos that could supply you with useful information. Talk with people within and beyond your line of business, and find out what good ideas of theirs you can borrow.

  1. Greater visibility on digital channels

Has your website had the look of a graveyard for too long? Are your social media handles playgrounds for ghosts? This is the time to sweep off the cobwebs hanging around them and give them a facelift. Change things up somewhat, and reach out to your (dormant) online audience with some form of campaign. Introduce or improve your email marketing, and map out plans to grow your email list.

  1. Improve your skill set (and get your staff to do same)

The world is moving fast; old ideas and processes are constantly being ditched for newer ones. Skills that were once priced have become cheap or useless (think the typewriting assistant). Commit yourself to staying in touch with the times by upgrading your skills or learning new ones, so you’ll remain relevant. If you have employees, you should encourage them to do this as well (depending on what is relevant to their job description).

  1. Raise sales by specific amounts

This is a no-brainer, right?

Then it’s a wonder that most people still fail at it. But it isn’t. While we claim that we want bigger sales for the year ahead, we don’t describe what this would actually mean. We don’t attach figures, we don’t give the details of the when and how. This makes such resolutions dead on arrival. In planning for the new year, we should define our sales targets clearly, and decide how we’ll meet them. Say, monthly sales worth ₦500,000 by the end of the year, or a sales total of ₦6,000,000 in twelve months. These are more definite goals to work towards than the generic but hazy ‘more sales than last year’ aim.

  1. Develop a stronger reputation for quality

If you’re a producer, you can pledge to improve the quality of your product and cut down on unsatisfactory output. As pointed out in the sales resolution, this will probably not work unless you attach actual figures and descriptions to the goals you resolve to achieve on this front. What specific things will you spruce up? What fault lines are typically responsible for lower quality output, and how do you intend to deal with them?

  1. Make customer care even better

Get people talking about how great your customer care is. Make your operations customer-centered, and deal with their complaints and misgivings as quickly and decisively as you can.

  1. Cut down on waste

Prioritize. Attend to the most pressing demands first, and save scarce resources for processes that yield more. Plug revenue-sapping holes; find less expensive, more reliable suppliers, and conserve supplies. Monitor staff production efficiency more closely; delegate responsibilities to people best suited for them. Run a more structured, disciplined, systematized organization. Make sure everyone keeps to time and takes deadlines seriously.

  1. Grow your network of useful business contacts

There’s potentially more opportunity for growth with a bigger network of strong business contacts. Leads, tips, and new markets can come of them.

One way to expand your useful contacts list is to attend trade events. These could be general interest fairs or industry-specific conferences and exhibitions. One of such trade events is ConnectNigeria’s eBusiness fair. You could meet with other business people at such fairs, and even link up with major players in your industry (or any other) who might be willing to do business with you.

  1. Make your me-time count

Finally being able to truly enjoy your time off work would be great. You can draw a line between hustling and rest (even if you think your work is your life’s greatest love). Don’t miss the chance to let down your hair when it presents itself. Life goes on, even after the day’s job is done.

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Ikenna Nwachukwu holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He loves to look at the world through multiple lenses- economic, political, religious and philosophical- and to write about what he observes in a witty, yet reflective style.

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