Many of us shy away from New Year’s resolutions. We avoid vowing to make January 1 the start of a set of healthy life choices in favor of trying to set personal goals throughout the year. Clichés aside, it’s a good idea to use the beginning of the New Year as a chance to identify the chief stumbling block (or blocks) you encountered as an entrepreneur during the previous business year.
Most small business owners have at least one nagging issue that acts as a catalyst, triggering other related pressures and problems. Identifying your particular issue, resolving to act differently and sticking with the solution (even if you have to revisit the resolution every day) will not only help your business, but it will save your sanity. Most teeth-gnashing problems entrepreneurs encounter involve trying to improve work/life balance (or have a life outside work). The other major issue involves getting things done – making good decisions and moving on to decisive, productive action. Here are some thoughts.
If your problem is burn out, not enough hours in the day or all work and no play, look for your solutions in the following ideas:
- Delegate more. If you are a one-person business, this might mean hiring a freelancer or a temp to handle some of the more routine aspects of your business that don’t represent the best use of your time. Perhaps you need to do this seasonally; or maybe you need to recruit temporary help from a local community college. The point is you will find a way to do it within your budget if you accept the need to lighten your load and if you plan to make it happen. When you are exhausted, your work suffers and you don’t make good decisions. Too much of this, and the love you feel for your profession can begin to turn sour.
- Look at how you are spending your time. Do the hours you expend on various tasks make sense in light of the business they generate? How much time can you afford to spend at conferences? What activities yield the highest rate of new business success?
- To do more and be more effective, slow down and focus on what is right in front of you now.
- Trust your gut instinct. Stop overthinking decisions. You are in the business because it’s something you know and love. Ambivalence usually happens when you are trying to persuade yourself to do something you really don’t want to do.
- When there’s been a lot of discussion and some head nodding but nothing seems to happen, the underlying cause is usually fear of failure. It often shows up as procrastination.
- Stop looking for “perfect” or the “right” answer. Procrastination is often about avoiding making a decision based on the fear of being wrong. Recognize that there are no guarantees of success, and that the “right” answer today might be outmoded tomorrow. Leaders make the best decision possible with the information available but are flexible enough to admit mistakes and learn from them.
Finally, don’t forget that the New Year is a fine time to set resolutions; however, any other date is equally as good. If circumstances change, and they will, be prepared to set new goals and objectives to find the best and most productive way to run your business.