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3 New Year’s Resolutions Every Small Business Should Consider

2016 New Years Resolutions

As another year comes to a close, it’s difficult not to get swept up by the spirit of reflection and renewed self-promises. On a pragmatic level there is nothing terribly unique about January 1st, just the start of another calendar month after all – but the symbolic threshold of a New Year’s beginning thrusts most of us into a contemplative goal setting mode. There is a sense of new possibilities in the air, and that’s always a good thing, so you may as well seize it! Much like individuals, small business can harness this renewed vigor towards betterment and change. Here are three resolutions that every small business owner should consider:

1. Listen

No great solution ever started without fully understanding the problem. Now, most great leaders are usually endowed with the gift of the gab, and it’s definitely essential to motivating their teams, facilitating meetings or negotiations, and other aspects of running a business. The flip side of that gift can be a tendency to hog up air time and assume you have all the answers. However, most savvy leaders know that the golden opportunities for organizational improvement come from two places – their team, and their customers. It’s very easy to get detached from the ‘front lines’ especially as the business grows and more middle management takes hold, but your most honest feedback will still come from those closest to service delivery or product fulfillment. There are tons of amazing tools out there to foster a culture of active employee listening, so make sure you weave them into your operational structure. Similarly, there are no better seeds for improving your business than being an expert on your customer pain points – so get busy devising effective ways to capture that invaluable feedback! Learning to listen actively, while keeping ego in check and paying attention to defence triggers is not only a great exercise for better leadership, but for long term success.

2. Get a Grip on your Cash Flow

There is a good reason for the adage  “Cash is King” as nothing will kill a business faster than poor cash flow management. This is why having a Business Plan at the onset is such a crucial idea, even if you’re not seeking outside capital. A typical plan will force you to crank out three years of projected financials, including monthly and annual cash flow statements. Having a good understanding of the inflow/outflow of cash will ensure that you have enough funds to avoid sinkable pitfalls like sale slumps, unforeseen expenses, and late collections. Paradoxically, not having enough cash to finance an unanticipated growth spurt can spell demise as well, and there is nothing more tragic that failing due to unexpected success. So become a cash flow expert of your enterprise, as it’s the key ingredient to long term prosperity.

3. Fine-tune your Branding

You have to get very clear about who you are in order to end up where you want. Same rule applies in business. Year end is a great time to hyper focus on what your company is all about. And not just in terms of its product or service, but in terms of its deepest fabric and ethos. A great way to approach that is to pretend your brand is a person, and get as specific as possible about designing how they would show up in the world. Is it a male or a female? What do they look like and how do they dress? How do they speak and interact with others? How do they express themselves? What is important to them, what do they stand for, and what legacy do they want to leave? What are their short and long term goals? How would someone feel after interacting with them? These types of questions will go a long way to clarifying your brand identity, personality, and voice. So make this a team exercise and have some fun with it – you may be surprised at what comes of it! Brand consistency is vital to business success because it provides a foundational framework for your approach to customer interactions, communications, marketing, and any tough values-oriented decisions you may face in the future.

Putting thought and effort into these three areas will go a long way to ensuring the success of your business, so let’s get cracking! Here is to an amazing, growth and prosperity filled New Year!