Last year, I wrote about the New Year's Resolutions that every small business owner needed to make for 2011. As the economy has shifted, what a business owner needs to do to be successful in 2012 is now changed. Forget about richer, thinner and healthier. Here are 12 new resolutions that you need to be making this year.
Repeat after me:
1. I will build a company, not just feed a hobby. Not having a job is not a good reason to be in your own business. This is the year, you need to move from being a “jobbie” as Carol Roth calls it to creating a real company that can thrive even if you are not there.
2. I promise to only hire the best people and pay them well. The only way to build a successful business is through a superior team. This is your best place for leverage and plan on paying more. If you want to get the best people, typically, you need to pay in the top 20%.
3. I will only borrow money for temporary cash flow needs, not to cover losses. Borrowing money in 2012 will continue to be tight and bank lending is not coming back anytime soon. Depend on your customers, not a bank for your cash flow needs this year.
4. I will call it quits if I have lost the passion for the business. If you no longer have the passion that got you into this business, it is time to sell the company or fold up your tent. You can’t be successful in small business in the long run without a burning passion.
5. I will not outsource the math. Commit to understanding every number of your three key financial statements (profit and loss, balance sheet and cash flow). Force the accountant to explain and review it monthly with you. If you do not understand where your business has been, you can’t forecast where it is going.
6. I will be slow to hire and quick to fire. Take your time hiring the best person for the job. If an employee is not working out, fire them in the first month. With proper training, few people’s general effectiveness changes after that time.
7. I will not use social media to sell my products. Use social media for customer service and to build prospect relationships by answering questions in your company's area of expertise.
8. I will focus on less. Take a tip from Steve Jobs who consistently helped his executive team focus and work on less things. Jobs said he learned this while pruning trees at a friend's apple orchard.
9. I will stop multitasking. Let’s face the fact that multitasking causes you to be less productive, not more. Your brain can only do one thing at a time and multitasking just allows it to switch back and forth quickly. Turn off everything that distracts you in your office for at least part of the day.
10. I will have no more than 50 emails in my inbox. I will look at each email once and deal with it by deleting, acting on it or filing it in a folder. Sifting through old emails repeatedly wastes time.
11. I will change my organizational chart from the “wheel” to a traditional hierarchy. Your business can’t grow if everyone works for you and all decisions need to come through you. See #2 about hiring the best people so you can delegate major tasks in the organization.
12. I will raise my prices. It’s been 4 years since the start of the Great Recession and it’s time. Customers still pay for value. Others have raised their price, why not you?
Which of these are you willing to commit to? What else is on your New Year’s resolution list?