It's that time of year again when everyone starts talking about resolutions and fresh starts.
Yes, we're all familiar with the routine: Everything heads downhill after the second week in January, right?
But before you let out the collective sigh, think about how you could set some realistic resolutions for your business this year-- and really stick to them.
Don't promise yourself you're going to exercise more or keep your closets clean this year. Instead, make some entrepreneurial resolutions that you can actually keep.
Here are 7 entrepreneurial New Year's resolutions worth starting today:
1. Get More Feedback from Your Audience
When we get into our normal routines, we forget to listen. We forget to ask questions. This year, make it a priority to regularly engage with your audience and ask for their opinions on how your business can do better. Conduct surveys, meet with focus groups--even try reaching out to people on your social media. When you can better address your customers' wants and needs, your business becomes more valuable.
Not sure how to start gathering feedback? Try these tools:
UserEcho - Collect comments and automatically direct users to FAQs.
SurveyMonkey - Conduct free surveys and learn more about your audience.
GetSatisfaction - Provide user support, crowdsource ideas, and allow customers to stay in touch with your business.
2. Manage Your Inventory
It's easy to get a little sloppy when it comes to managing inventory. If you have a lot of products and are balancing many spinning plates, things can get out of control quickly. in 2015, try harder to stay on top of your inventory. Take regular counts and make sure you have the quantities you think you have (and save yourself a headache or two.)
Here are a few additional apps that can help make inventory management easier:
OpenBravo - Stay agile and keep track of your merchandise, supply chain, point of sale, and see monthly reports on your progress.
ABC Inventory - A free tool for small to mid-sized businesses that makes inventory tracking simple and without frills.
SOS Inventory - An inventory tool that ties in directly with your QuickBooks reporting.
3. Delegate Your Tasks
Entrepreneurs do it all. (That should be a bumper sticker, don't you think?) But 2015 should be a year in which you do less. Delegating tasks to other team members means you can get out of the details and into the big picture. As a leader, you need to be able to look into the future--not be stuck in the present. If you don't have any other team members to support you right now, maybe it's time to consider hiring some help.
Think about delegating by:
Hiring a freelancer to help with project-based tasks
Getting a Virtual Assistant to oversee the basics
4. Expand Your Knowledge
Knowledge is power. If you can make time to read a few good business books or listen to a podcast while on the go, you're making an investment in yourself. We all have 30 minutes or so to spare in a day--so why not put it to good use? Learn more and become a better entrepreneur in 2015.
Here are a few places to start looking:
5. Get Involved with Your Community
Regardless of where your community is (online, within a town or city, etc.), 2015 is the year that you should take the initiative to become more engaged there. Make a point to participate in the activities and organizations your customer base cares about. Not only does it create an opportunity for relationship-building, but it just feels good to give back.
Places to get involved might be:
6. Find a New Mentor
Having an experienced mentor at your disposal means you have someone to call on when you don't know how to proceed. It also means you have a fantastic sounding board for new ideas, a brain to pick, and lots of life lessons to hear about. This year, make a point to find a new mentor by connecting with someone in your field who really knows his/her stuff. Reach out and introduce yourself, and see if you might be able to get together for a coffee or lunch.
Not sure who to reach out to? Try this:
Search LinkedIn for people in your area who have an impressive resume and experience within your profession
Use Findamentor.com to connect with mentors online
Try Clarity for on-demand advice from experienced professionals
7. Value Your Time
This one is really important: Make a resolution to place a higher value on your time this year. Stop working late into the night and on weekends. Life your life and enjoy your family and friends. When entrepreneurs work too much, owning a business becomes less fun and more work. Set a hard beginning and end time to your weekdays, and take a vacation this year.
You Can Do it!
New Years resolutions don't have to be a joke--they can be a starting point for realistic improvements within your business. Make a list of your 2015 resolutions and keep it posted where you'll regularly see it while you work. You might be surprised at how easy it is to stick with them!
What's on your business resolution list for the coming year?