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Small Business New Year's Resolutions

It's common for people to set resolutions, or personal goals they'd like to achieve in the New Year. But New Year's Resolutions don't need to be restricted to just individuals. Small businesses can also benefit from a yearly reassessment of goals. The New Year is a great time to step back and evaluate where your business stands.

New Year's Resolutions are most likely to be achieved when they're SMART goals. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.

So take out your clipboard or tablet and get ready to brainstorm. Here are five starting points for creating SMART small business resolutions.

Lose Weight

One of the most common personal New Year's Resolutions is to lose weight or get healthier. There are a few variations on this goal, with "eat better" and "exercise more" being common alternatives. While those resolutions might sound incredibly personal, you can certainly apply them to your business. Here are some examples of SMART goals to help your business "lose weight" and operate more efficiently:

Automate what you can

SMART Example: By Q3, my business will automate its two most time-consuming processes, resulting in a 40% lower time commitment toward tedious activities.

A lot of companies stick to processes that cause unnecessary stress and tedious work. Trim down that extra weight by automating processes where you can. Depending on your industry, automation could affect anything from bookkeeping to the production line. It could be as simple as setting up automatic cloud backups of files, or as complex as learning how to use macros in your spreadsheets. Don't commit to revamping your whole business at once — start small by choosing the one or two processes that cause the most trouble and working up from there.

Drop outdated or obsolete equipment

SMART Example: By Q2, I will identify the three pieces of equipment most in need of replacement and develop a plan to replace them. By Q4, I will replace them.

Every company has one — the printer that keeps breaking down, the truck that constantly needs TLC, or some other piece of equipment that 'is essential to operations but just isn't working. Use your resolution as a pledge to research and purchase new equipment to replace anything that is rusted, glitching, or broken. Ask yourself, has your business gotten by for years without that tool? Don't be afraid to recycle it, even if you don't replace it. After all, you've gotten this far without it. Free up that space for something that works.

Strengthen Relationships

The most important asset of a small business is its relationships. So put aside time to start developing new relationships and improving existing ones. Make sure you keep your goals SMART:

Improve customer service

SMART Example: Employees will personally respond to 90% of all customer inquiries within 24 hours.

There are many ways to improve customer service, and this example offers just one. Some other ways? Train your employees on how to actively listen and connect with customers. Evaluate every interaction between your company and your audience and ensure they meet your standards. Gather customer feedback and fix any identified issues.

Build a community

SMART Example: By February 1, I will develop a schedule for monthly community events. My business will host the events, increasing customer visits and purchases by 10%.

You determine what kind of community engagement is appropriate for your business. Maybe you could host a monthly game night. If your business isn't customer facing, consider hosting webinars or a charitable event. Maybe your business would thrive by connecting with its audience on social media. It doesn't need a financial investment — just making your space open to your customers could go a long way.

Learn Something New

If you want your business to keep up in the modern economy, it needs to be flexible. Two ways to prepare for changes in the market — commit to education and connect with experts in your community.

Develop a culture of learning

SMART Example: I will encourage and support my employees' professional development. By Q4, 40% of my employees will be enrolled in continuing education or participating in a professional organization relating to their job.

When a business has a culture of learning, its employees commit to "learning how to learn together." As a leader in your organization, start questioning your daily processes and assumptions. Ask, "Are we doing the right thing?" Encourage employees to offer novel solutions to old problems. Be ready to learn and adapt.

Join a business organization

SMART Example: My business will join the local Chamber of Commerce and participate in 50% of its events this year.

The local Chamber of Commerce can bring a lot of opportunities to your business, from networking to professional development. Get in touch with yours to keep up with local events, promote your business to other business owners, and learn about other local businesses that could help you achieve your goals.

Manage Money Better

Many people consider money management as a skill they could improve. Your business could have a great community and a steady income. But if it's not managing its resources well, it could face trouble. Here are just a few examples of some SMART goals your business could adopt to improve its cash flow.

Work with your insurance agent

SMART Example: I will contact an insurance agent to gain their expertise in what coverages are best for my business.

It's wise to regularly review your business insurance policies to ensure that your business has the coverage it needs, without duplication. Also take this opportunity to ask your agent what value-added benefits your insurance company provides. For example, does your insurer include loss prevention resources with your policy? Does it offer an improved payment service like Precision Pay? These kinds of questions could help you determine whether your insurance policies work for your business.

Find opportunities to boost revenue and cut expenses

SMART Example: I will review my business' revenue and expenses and look for ways to improve net income 20% by Q4.

Does your business have any opportunities to reduce production costs? Can you automate time–consuming processes? Reevaluate the supply chain? Consider hiring a good accountant to determine where your business could cut unnecessary expenses and improve net income.

Commit to a culture of safety

SMART Example: My business will implement a safety committee with a defined purpose by Q2.

One of the best ways to reduce accidents and injuries as well as unexpected expenses is to implement a strong loss prevention program. A safety committee helps to foster a culture of safety and address safety issues in an organization. The most effective safety committees include both leaders and employees of the organization.

Embrace the Future

Branch out and explore new opportunities! Innovation will continue to challenge your business, whether you like it or not. In order to thrive, you’ll need to keep up on future trends and technology.

Improve your digital presence

SMART Example: My company will adopt one new tech tool this year to improve its digital presence, in order to attract 10% new customers by Q3.

Companies constantly release new tools for businesses to use, and it can be hard to know where to start researching them. Start small. For example, you could set a goal to control your business' image by creating a stronger online presence. Then, look for tools that will achieve that; that will help narrow your search and ensure your goal remains attainable. Another worthy initiative could be to improve security. If your business houses sensitive data on a computer, that data could be at risk. Boost your customers' trust by adopting modern security programs to protect their information. Also ensure that your business is protected from attacks, so you can sleep well at night.

Keep hold of your roots

SMART Example: I will stay committed to person-to-person interactions with my customers for 80% of my business operations, regardless of online pressures.

The internet doesn't have all the answers. One way to lose existing customers is to commit wholeheartedly to a new strategy and abandon your business's personal touch. You built your business on a strong foundation of personal connections. Make sure you continue to nourish those connections into the New Year.
We wish you and your business health, peace, and prosperity as you brainstorm for the new year!

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