It’s once again time to start thinking about the coming year. What do you want to achieve in 2019? I find New Year’s resolutions to be an opportunity to help me focus on what I want to accomplish during the next 12 months. As an entrepreneur, my personal goals often differ from my business goals. Business owners need to be very self-determined in every area of their lives and this time of year allows for a bit of a reflection and reset. Here are some of my suggestions for setting resolutions that will help you grow your business and improve personally in 2019.
1. Don’t Neglect the Financial Side of Your Business
It may seem strange if you’re running a business to have to remind yourself to focus on financials. However, as an entrepreneur, it’s easy to get caught up in the goals of creating a great company, app, product, or whatever it may be you do. While it’s great to keep your larger vision in mind, it’s equally important to remember that your success depends on mundane factors such as keeping your expenses down, making a profit, and finding the right market for your products. Understanding the basics of your finances is the first step.
If necessary, hire a good accountant or bookkeeper. However, you should also understand the health of your books yourself. You should always be familiar with the key metrics for your business such as margins, customer acquisition costs (CAC), and operating costs. The better you understand your finances, the more easily you can identify areas that need improving. For example, look for ways to reduce your debt, lower costs, and improve ROI for your marketing campaigns.
2. Aim For Balance
There’s a popular idea that entrepreneurs need to work 60-hour weeks, learn to survive on three hours of sleep, and put the rest of their lives on hold while they build their companies. It’s unrealistic and there are many studies that show this is completely counterproductive. To me, this sounds like a recipe for burning out. Your life gets out of balance when you spend all your time working. A balanced life means paying attention to your health, family, social life, and leisure time as well as your business.
I find that maintaining a healthy balance among the various aspects of my life actually helps me run my business more effectively. For example, if I take a day off every so often, I feel refreshed when I return to work. If you get too immersed in any one environment, including work, you can fall into a rut. Balance helps you keep everything in perspective. You’re able to think more clearly and make better decisions.
3. Keep Learning
One of the best things you can do as an entrepreneur is to learn something new every day. If not every day, at least weekly. There’s no shortage of tools and resources to help you do this nowadays, from online courses to podcasts. You’re never too old to return to school, even if it’s to take a noncredit class. In addition to keeping up with my own industry, I find it helpful to learn about fields and topics that are completely new to me.
You never know what might have applications for your business or let you look at the world in a new way. For example, if you’re involved in finance or technology, taking an art class or studying a foreign language can open up your creativity in new ways. Constantly learning keeps your brain working and teaches you to look at problems from different points of view.
4. Stay Healthy
Your health is one of your greatest assets no matter who you are. I’ve written about this before and how it transformed my life. As entrepreneurs, we need to remind ourselves of this frequently. Aside from wanting to feel your best, good health gives you more energy and a clearer mind to tackle new projects and grow your business. There are many aspects to health, including your diet, getting regular exercise, and getting sufficient rest. If you neglect any of these areas, you’ll find that your energy and motivation decline as well.
I always remind myself to eat well, even if I’m busy. You can always fit in a workout. The latest research shows that short workouts can be as beneficial as longer ones. Finally, don’t try to burn the candle at both ends. Everyone has slightly different needs for sleep but try to get at least 7 hours per night.
5. Watch the Competition
You can learn a great deal from your competition. Whether they are doing things right or making mistakes, you always want to be aware of their activities. Follow them on social media, pay attention to how they’re advertising, and read customer reviews about them. They can teach what you should be doing as well as what to avoid.
On the other hand, don’t get obsessed or paranoid about your competitors. The idea isn’t to copy someone else, no matter how successful they are. Never lose sight of your unique vision. Keeping an eye on them, however, helps you identify areas where they may be outworking or outthinking you. You can also look for where they’re falling short (customer reviews are great for this) and get inspiration on how you can do better.
6. Network Strategically
Networking is kind of a catch-all term and something of a cliché in the business world. Nevertheless, it’s vitally important to reach out and meet potential clients, partners, and influencers. There are many ways to do this, both online and offline. Here are a few of my favorite suggestions but you can alter this to suit your own needs.
- Make the most of social media. LinkedIn is especially good for entrepreneurs. Expand your network, post regularly and connect with influencers in your industry.
- Attend live events selectively. It’s good to go to seminars, conventions, and networking events but be selective. Choose events where you have a good chance of learning something and meeting people like-minded people.
- Look for mutually beneficial partnerships. You might be able to cross-promote with other, non-competitive businesses. Think of who else your customers might need services from. Someone hiring a web designer, for example, might also need web hosting, content marketing, or help running social media campaigns. A customer buying a home using a real estate agent might also need a contractor or landscaper.
7. Improve Your Communication Skills
Being a better communicator is one of the most fundamental skills you need as an entrepreneur. One of the factors I focus on the most is being a better listener. This means really paying attention to others so you can understand and even anticipate their needs. Empathy is another crucial aspect of communication. The ability to look at life through the eyes of your employee, friend, partner or customer really helps in both your personal and professional life. Empathy contributes to a better workplace, helps you anticipate the needs of your customers, and deepens your personal relationships.
These are some of my top suggestions for 2019 New Year’s resolutions. Being an entrepreneur is very rewarding but it also carries many challenges. You have to constantly look for ways to improve yourself and your business. As you decide what you want to achieve in 2019, don’t be among the 80% who forget about their New Year’s resolutions by February. Write down your resolutions and look at them every day so they remain fresh in your mind.
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