It’s a brand New Year! And yes, it is that time again to dust off our New Year’s resolutions. What are your plans for the year? What will you do differently? What new things will you try this year?
Here are six resolutions for home business owners and small business entrepreneurs. The following provides practical tips for businesses to focus on in order to grow and succeed in the New Year:
1. Be more open to possible opportunities.
Opportunities are everywhere; you have just to find it and grab it before it goes away. Where there things that you ignored last year that could probably spell a big difference in your business? Are there anything that you’ve been putting off because they’re too hard, or you’ve got no time, or you simply think that it was not the right time then?
For example, have you been thinking of writing a book but never got to do it last year? Maybe now’s the time to do it. Or were there any advertising networks that sent you several invitations in the past but you ignored? Maybe it’s time to give them a try – who knows, you just may be surprised with the results. Or you tried to use Twitter or Pinterest but failed to gain any traction before; try it again this year using a different approach — it might just work and you’ll start to see traffic and increased awareness of your business from your social media efforts.
Look them over again – and see these opportunities with a fresh set of eyes:
- How are these opportunities going to help my business?
- Am I prepared to move my business in that direction?
- What do I need to successfully capture and implement these opportunities?
Try new things this New Year – whether in terms of new products, new marketing approaches, or new way of doing things.
2. Develop your brand.
For most home business entrepreneurs, “branding” is a concept applicable only to big businesses. After all, when you hear the word “branding,” the first thing that comes to mind is the tremendous amount of resources needed to ensure top-of-mind awareness of products or services.
Why not start the year by getting the notion that branding is reserved for big businesses alone out of your head and start thinking of building a brand? Yes, it is not going to be easy for a home-based business to embark on a branding campaign and it will require a lot of effort — but it is doable.
Branding is critical to the survival of your home-based business. It allows your business to develop its own identity. It helps you stand out from your competitors. Even the recent shift of Google pushes businesses to build a strong brand that will make their websites worthy to be shown on the search results. Your brand is the sum of what customers and visitors see – both the good and the bad.
You don’t need to spend your past year’s entire income to develop a strong brand. The first step is to accept in your mind that even your home-based business can create a brand. The key is to be aware that everything you do and use – from your logo to website user experience to quality of products to your tagline – reflects on your business.
Every touch point with the customer is a reflection of your brand. You’d want to give your customers and visitors the best experience possible so that they will remember your business name or website domain. If you are able to increase the number of people searching for your domain or business name directly in the search engines, that’s a positive step towards developing your brand. For more tips on branding, read the article Successful Brand Development: Branding Strategies for Your Small Business.
3. Set clearer goals
For this New Year, make it a habit to set goals for any activity that you do for your business. Don’t do something just because you heard that it is good for your business, or that your competitors are doing it. Instead, have clear and measurable goals to help you understand how the strategies you choose are moving your business forward.
For example, you decided to build a presence in Pinterest as part of your social media strategy. Before you even sign up, think of what you want to accomplish from using Pinterest for your business. Some examples of possible goals include:
- To be able to get X amount of visitors from Pinterest per month
- To be able to get X number of repins of your boards
- To be able to get X number of followers per month
- To be able to create X number of boards
By setting measurable goals, you will be able to easily see whether the effort is paying for your business. If you are not hitting your targets, then ask yourself questions such as: how can you improve the situation; what strategies could you employ; or even what are things your more successful competitors doing that you are not.
4. Seek more learning opportunities.
Learning opens the mind to potential opportunities that may not be initially seen. It allows you to know what’s happening in your industry, and teaches you how to do things better.
Take the time to learn new things about the industry and the general business environment in order to take advantage of new skills and knowledge. Learning can mean subscribing to trade and business publications, reading on the Web and subscribing to worthy newsletters, participating in forums, borrowing books from the library, or even attending a class in a community college. It could mean listening to podcasts, signing up to webinars, and downloading useful white papers.
5. Get a clear handle of where the business is going.
Home business entrepreneurs need to keep track of their financial records, in order to determine the direction of the business. Doing so alerts you of problems that can affect cash flow of the business, or factors that can threaten the very life of your business. Financial understanding also provides a concrete measure for entrepreneurs as to what is working, and what is not, in your busines.
Start by carefully tracking your resources. Do a better job of managing your finances – where your money is going, what are the results of those efforts, and where you should focus your efforts. Here are some things you can do:
- Improve the way you track your finances. You need to know how much money you are making: if you are doing your financial books once a year, you either need to start doing it weekly (at least) or hire an accountant or bookkeeper to do it for you.
- Track your cash flow carefully. Who are not paying you on time? How can you improve your processes so that you can get paid quicker?
Most importantly, make it your resolution this year to learn how to read financial statements. This way, you don’t have to depend on your accountant to tell you what the numbers are saying: instead, you will be able to understand what’s happening with your business by looking at your numbers immediately.
6. Be willing to get help.
Home business entrepreneurs, particularly those operating solo, wear many hats. You are the product creator, marketing person, accountant, webmaster, and many other roles rolled into one. It can oftentimes be overwhelming.
Look at how you performed last year. What are the things you’ve been most effective? What are the things where you need help? You need to focus on what you do best, and seek help for areas that you feel equipped to do well whether it is due to lack of time or lack of skills.
7. Take care of the most important resource: you.
Starting and running a business can be very stressful. It is important that you give time for yourself. The entrepreneur is the heart and soul of the business. Take a vacation or week off from business. Pamper the body. Get a massage. Go out, take a walk or go to the mall and shop. Whatever it is that you do, you need not be consumed by your business 24/7. By taking a break, you will feel refreshed and enjoy your work more.