5 Entrepreneurial Resolutions for 2019
Last year at this time, this column featured a set of New Year’s resolutions for entrepreneurs. A lot of people liked them (we won’t discuss how many actually kept them), so in honor of another new year of opportunity and challenge, herewith a new set of resolutions.
Establish a “News Hour.” Set aside one hour every week to consider something new for your enterprise. This could be improving one of your business processes, upgrading an existing product or service, refining your marketing and communications – anything that might make you just a little more successful.
Ironically, a thriving business can be an impediment to innovation, as the time and energy you expend managing operations don’t leave time to explore new possibilities. Setting aside this hour forces you to consider how things can be improved. In different weeks, you can do this by yourself, or with key staff people, perhaps even investors or other business associates. Establishing a regular day and time will help you keep this resolution.
Maximize the productivity of your work environment. As businesses grow, they often squeeze more people, paper and equipment into the same space with only minor changes to the overall layout. Have things become cluttered and claustrophobic in your work space? Or distracting? How is the lighting? Is your space one an impartial observer would find welcoming?
Substantially reorganizing your space might take a couple of days, but that investment of time may well be returned in improved productivity. For example, holding on to excessive files – paper or electronic – requires more search time to find what you need. Take a good hard look, ask for staff input, and if there is a real opportunity here, think of it as a creative team exercise.
Response time matters. Set a standard for yourself and your staff for replying to emails and phone calls. A 2018 national survey found that the No. 1 frustration in the business world was slow (or even nonexistent) responses, particularly to emails. Even if the reply is just “got your email, will get back to you soon,” at least people know you received their communication. Of course, it is still incumbent upon you to follow up!
A possible standard might be that all calls and emails will receive at least an initial response within 24 to 48 hours. Look at it this way: “No” is an acceptable answer, but no answer is not acceptable.
Review your pricing. It’s amazing how many businesses keep their prices unchanged for long periods of time. Obviously, raising your prices just because you can may seriously offend important customers or clients; however, if you survey your competition, review your own costs and generally check out the marketplace, you may well find that a price increase is justified and possibly even necessary.
If you go this route, be sure to provide a clear rationale to your clientele and be firm about sticking to it. As a corollary, you may also want to review the prices your vendors are charging you.
Say something nice every day. Does your staff really know how much you appreciate their talents and hard work? Do your family and friends know how much you appreciate their support? Do you congratulate yourself for your successes large and small? Kind words do matter, and that definitely includes being kind to yourself.
There is no magical formula for keeping New Year’s resolutions, but if you make them, it makes sense to try to keep them. Writing them down and posting them in a visible place is one good tactic, another is enrolling family, friends and staff in the effort – teamwork is always a good thing.
Here’s to a healthy and prosperous new year for all!