7 different New Year’s resolutions for small business owners

A calendar, pen and acorn.

Has there ever been a more challenging time, especially for small business owners, to make and keep resolutions than the last few years? Between pandemics and national and global upheaval, it may seem harder than ever to know where to focus your attention.

It’s time to resolve this by going outside the box. So, instead of the same old “increase profitability” or “grow by X%” (although those are good resolutions, too), here are seven resolutions that will not only be useful to small business owners but help you focus on something a little different.

1. Build your online presence

Even though we’ve come a long way from 2020, one effect of the pandemic won’t be going away anytime soon—our increased reliance on doing business online. Is your business’s online presence what your customers need? Whether or not you sell merchandise online, resolve to set your business up this year for success by giving more TLC and attention to your website, interacting with your followers and customers on social media platforms, and generating leads with your email marketing.

2. Give your employees a reason to stay

Another pandemic effect? The spotlight fell on challenges that employees—especially working caregivers—face every day of their lives. From long, exhausting commutes to daycare crises and eldercare duties, the stress is real and can become debilitating. This year, resolve to help mitigate your employees’ obligations with options like flexible work schedules or remote work, if possible...and prioritize their work-life balance. It’ll pay off in higher team morale and increased loyalty. For some ideas, check out AARP’s small business caregiving guide.

3. Join a small business organization

There are so many challenges a small business owner has to face, and it’s hard for anyone but another small business owner to give you the perspective you need. If you don’t belong to a local small business organization, make the resolution that this will be the year you join one. Check out your local chamber of commerce, rotary club, industry or trade association, SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives), or women’s business networks like eWomenNetwork. You’ll find other small business owners with whom you can share and exchange knowledge, advice and inspiration.

4. Listen to your customers

Resolve to make this the year you really get to know some of the most important people in your business: your customers. Not just by saying hello and sharing a chat, but by discovering exactly what they think about your business and your customer service. How? By creating and sending surveys and feedback forms that you act upon and respond to—even if their feedback isn’t flattering to your business. It can be hard to hear, but it’s harder to have good customers join the 61% who have switched to a competitor after a bad customer service experience. But their tough love can push you to bring your products or services to new heights.

5. Know your worth

When you’re a new business owner, you tend to serve anyone who walks in the door. Those customers can get you through the challenges of the first couple of years, but eventually, you realize that not all customers are the right fit for your business. You can’t serve everyone, so this year, make a resolution to a) charge what you’re worth, whatever you determine that to be; and b) learn to say no to customers who are unwilling to pay the prices you’ve set for your expertise.

6. Reevaluate your business

No matter how stupendous your original business plan is, things change in a moment (e.g., illness, financial hardship or natural disaster). One way to be ready for whatever happens is to periodically reevaluate your business operations. Even if things are great, the reevaluation process will help you recognize and adapt to new internal and external factors that can impact your business. Consider a resolution to, at least yearly, see how changes in your life and trends in your industry affect your operations, so you can either make a correction or stay the course.

7. Battle burnout

In our go-go-go business world, burnout is a real danger. This year, for both you and your employees, resolve to set more realistic goals, set boundaries and watch for signs of burnout in everyone—including yourself. How? Break goals into smaller, more achievable increments. When business hours are exceeded because the work can’t get done, take a fresh look at your operations, because it might be time to consider automating or outsourcing some tasks.

And a few bonus suggestions: Have some fun at work when you can, whether it’s an impromptu team lunch or some time to just breathe. Encourage your employees (this goes for you, too) to get away from their workstations for breaks during the day. Have one-on-one conversations with each team member to be sure they feel fulfilled in what they’re doing.

Most important, when things get hairy (as they sometimes do), resolve to take a deep breath and know that thanks to your thoughtful resolutions, you’ve got this.