10 New Year’s Resolutions Designed to Jumpstart Your Small Business in 2011

Happy holidays! As we wrap up the books for 2010, now is the perfect time to begin planning how you’ll take 2011 to the next level. I’ve compiled a list of 10 New Year’s resolutions for your small business.

1. Build a plan to succeed.

If you want to be successful, you have to have a plan. Creating a plan keeps your business on track and creates a framework for success. Start by examining the three to five things you want to accomplish. Make sure you understand not only what you want to do, but also how you are going to do it.

2. Share your plan.

When you start thinking, “Holy cow, this is the millionth time I’ve said this,” say it again. As a small business owner, continually sharing your plan will allow employees and stakeholders to see what’s important. I once worked for a boss that started every meeting with why our group existed and what we wanted to accomplish. I never felt more connected to the company’s success than I did then. Start by sharing the company plan in the next employee meeting. Make sure each employee knows the plan and understands how the plan links to their job.

3. Grow your network.

You’ve heard the old saying, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” That’s no longer true. Now it’s who knows you that really makes a difference. Take this opportunity to make sure everyone knows you and your personal brand. Start by defining your personal brand, identifying how you are perceived, and commit to attend one networking event per month.

4. Create an awesome workplace.

As a small business owner, you have a responsibility to create an environment that employees enjoy. Employees who enjoy their workplace work harder and your retention levels are higher. Start by determining how your team feels about the work environment and begin to look for opportunities to improve.

5. Recognize your employees’ contributions.

This is a great time to institute an employee recognition program. Talk to employees and gain an understanding of what makes them feel recognized and appreciated. Recognition doesn’t have to be expensive, just sincere. Sometimes the simplest solutions are the most impactful. Start by asking each employee how they like to be recognized and do your best to recognize them that way when they do something positive.

6. Develop a culture of feedback and coaching.

Employees want to be told if they are doing well and how they can improve. When you see an employee doing something right, tell them. When an employee has an opportunity to improve their performance, tell them that too. Just be sure to acknowledge their effort and provide constructive feedback in a supportive way. Start by holding meetings with each member of the team in which you talk about performance. To begin the discussion, focus on three positives for every opportunity.

7. Focus on managing performance.

People want to be viewed as valuable members of the team so understanding employee performance is critical.  Managing performance is all about setting measurable goals for each employee that link to the business’s objectives. This link is critical because without a clear vision teams have a tendency to spin their wheels and waste valuable company resources. Start by ensuring every employee has goals written down and a clear understanding of what they need to accomplish.

8. Document what you do.

Documentation is a first step to creating consistent and reproducible business results. Many franchises are successful, in part, because they build systems and processes into their everyday tasks. Building systems for your business avoids recreating the wheel each time you do something and allows employees to spend time on more important, revenue-generating matters. Start by creating a small procedure manual for key jobs.

9. Get employees the training they need.

How long does it take to get a new person up to speed in your business? Set new and existing employees up to succeed by providing the proper training and tools needed to do their job. This doesn’t have to be expensive and the return on your investment will be well worth it. Start by creating a consistent new employee training experience.

10. Strengthen your team.

Team building doesn’t have to be time consuming. Building an effective team is about knowing what makes them tick and knowing what you can do to remove the obstacles that impede performance. Start by getting to know each member of the team and what is important to them.

How To Stay On Track

Often times people try to do everything at once. To increase your success rate, break your tasks into manageable pieces. Don’t try to do everything at once; that is a recipe for disaster.

Once you have broken the tasks into small pieces, hold yourself accountable to those activities and reward yourself for each accomplishment. In the past, I hated doing quarterly budgets, but it was a necessary part of the business. To make sure I did them, I rewarded myself with a nice date night with my wife when they were completed. Suddenly, I looked forward to doing the books. Or maybe it was the time with my wife…