7 New Year’s Goals That Every Small-Business Owner Should Have

Forget resolutions. Instead, focus on attainable goals that will further your business in the new year.
Freelance Writer and editor, Self-employed
December 31, 2011

Welcome to the anti-New Year’s resolution list. If you’re like me, you can’t stand resolutions, and by February 1 you’ve already thrown them to the wind anyway. So forget resolutions. Instead, focus on goals—goals that will help your business next year, goals that are attainable, ones you can achieve with minimal effort and ones that will guarantee to make you a happier and more relaxed small-business CEO next year. Here are seven that should be on your list.

Goal No. 7: Get out of your office

Rich A. Johnson is co-founder and CEO of Spark Ventures, a Chicago-based international development organization staffed by eight highly motivated employees.

“Our people produce and work super hard and sometimes I think we just get too focused and forget to take time to connect with each other on a more social level,” he says.

Last year, Johnson took his staff to a movie at a nearby theater and says the outing was great for office morale. Now, the challenge is to implement more regular excursions.

“I’m going to sit down in January and block off times, pick dates and book trips,” he says. “We have weekly staff meetings, so I will try to use that time to book something out of the office about once per quarter.”

Goal No. 6: Stay present

As the sole proprietor of Mercurious Designs, an Indiana-based pattern-making company, and founder of Sweet Revenge Lingerie, Catherine Fritsch is seriously busy. So busy that she hardly has time to sleep between taking orders and answering client questions.

“There have been weeks when my husband asks me if I will ever be happy,” she says. “I realize that I am always thinking about the next thing and rarely—if ever—living in the moment.”

Fritsch says she will try to stay present in 2012 by planning fun activities with her husband on the weekends—things that have nothing to do with her business. She hopes that her new focus will give her more energy in her business and in her relationship.

Goal No. 5: Give up control issues

No one wants to be a micromanager…but you’ve gotta admit that the urge to control everything is so tempting! Barb Clapp, president and CEO of Baltimore, Md.-based Clapp Communications, knows this feeling and is determined to change her ways in 2012.

“I am going to work on letting people figure out their own solutions rather than trying to fix everything,” she says. “How will I do it? I will focus every day on holding my space and work on achieving a greater gratitude for life.”

Goal No. 4: Say no

Fritsch is in the midst of shifting her business focus from pattern-making to lingerie retail but is having a hard time turning down pattern business when her lingerie side isn’t yet booming.

“I get these requests for bids and they sound interesting, but before I know it, the year is over, and I haven’t given myself time to build my lingerie brand,” she says.

The result: Work overload, little time for her new brand and even less time for herself.

So how does she plan to say no to pattern business next year?

“I’m going to budget a set amount of time to my lingerie line and not allow myself to accept work within that time—I’m hoping the strategy will work,” she says.

Goal No. 3: Take a vacation

Every business owner deals with the same issue when it comes to vacation: Of course you want to go on a two week trip to Barbados, but what will happen to your business if you leave town?

“This year, I will take at least two of my three weeks of paid vacation—it isn’t something I’ve done in years,” says Johnson. “I’m a better leader when I take time off to disconnect from work.”

As CEO of Spark Ventures, this is Johnson’s first role as leader of an organization. And as such, he plans to set processes in place in case of an emergency while he’s away.

“I don’t have those procedures in place yet, but that’s part of my plan,” he says.

Goal No. 2: Market your business effectively

While Fritsch is passionate about her lingerie product, she isn’t keen on the sales side of her business.

“Growing up, I was taught to be modest about my skills and talents, so it’s tough to set aside my personality and become a sales person,” she says.

How will she make a change next year?

“I’m going to enlist a public relations firm to look over my press releases and teach me how to market myself effectively,” she says.

Goal No. 1: Separate your work identity from your personal identity.

Fritsch brings her business thoughts into her personal time and gives her cell phone number to clients. The result: increased stress, decreased relaxation.

“This year I’m going to divide my workspace from my personal space—I have a nice studio, so I will stick to set hours and when I’m home, I will concentrate on being with my husband and friends,” she says. “I will ask my customers to e-mail me during nonwork hours, and if I don’t recognize a number at night or on the weekend, I just won’t pick up.”

What are your goals for next year?