Simple steps to help you focus for the new year.
by C. Daniel Baker, Black Enterprise
As the calendar turns from 2012 to 2013, small business owners often find themselves finishing up projects, closing deals and reviewing the past year. Between following the outcome of the fiscal cliff crisis, balancing holiday time with running your business, and other last minute issues, most owners are exhausted. The clean slate of a new year brings the chance to restart, rejuvenate and reinvigorate ourselves and our small businesses.
First, small business owners should take time to reflect on 2012. What were some of your businesses’ biggest accomplishments? What were some of your biggest mistakes? Owners would do well to celebrate their successes as well as figure out what went wrong, before rushing into the new year.
Entrepreneurs should use January as a chance to review their clients, customers and contacts. Make a list of persons and companies you’d like to partner with in the new year. Pinpoint the most important people you’ve worked with in the last year, whether they’re colleagues, interns or customers. Use this time to let them know just how much you appreciate them and what exactly they did for you. Good relationships are critical to future networking so time spent now can reward dividends.
American Express OPEN Forum listed several other ways entrepreneurs can recharge in the New Year.
For the entrepreneur, this time of year typically means a mad dash to wrap-up remaining projects, close deals, and squeeze in time for family and friends. With winter’s shortened days, it starts to feel like time accelerates faster than ever—leaving you less and less time to accomplish your year-end goals. However, amidst the holiday chaos, it is possible to stay grounded and set the foundation for a successful year to come. Here are six ways to help you recharge your business for the New Year.
1. Get your priorities in line. Time management is a year-round challenge for business owners, but schedules get even tighter during the holidays. That’s why it’s more important than ever to know your priorities. Set a stopwatch for 20 minutes and write down everything that needs to be done before the calendar turns to 2013. Then, give yourself another 10 minutes to assess which of those tasks are the most important to yourself, your business and your family. Keep that list in mind as you start each day—and make sure all your activities are centered around those core priorities.
2. Ditch the New Year’s resolutions. A FranklinCovey survey found that 80 percent of people who make New Year’s resolutions will break them. And a third never make it to the end of January. If you’re one of the many people who have left a string of resolutions behind, it’s time for a new approach. Rather than creating your resolutions for 2013, use the end of the calendar year to reflect on your business and market. What were some of the best things that your business accomplished this year? What were some of the biggest mistakes? Don’t rush to begin planning the new year until you’ve celebrated your wins and acknowledged your mistakes.
3. Evaluate your year as a business leader. In addition to reflecting on your business, this is a good time to reflect on yourself. After all, as an entrepreneur, you don’t exactly get a yearly performance review. Being as objective as possible, write down your strongest characteristics as a leader—and your weakest. Then, think about how each of these characteristics impacted your business, team members and partners during the year. This type of objective self-assessment can help you pinpoint areas to improve in 2013.
4. Build important connections. As a good entrepreneur, you’re looking out for interesting opportunities around every corner. And the end of the year offers a bevy of parties and events. Make some time to take advantage of these networking events and meet new people. Sometimes a simple party is the key to a great new client, collaboration or partnership that will pay dividends in the new year.
5. Show the love. During this hectic time, it’s all too easy to become inwardly focused—where you’re thinking more about crossing things off your list than what (or who) really matters. Of course, holidays are the time for family and friends, but I’m also talking about the professional relationships that matter to you. Think about the most important people you’ve worked with throughout the year—whether it’s a devoted assistant or a colleague who keeps introducing you to great contacts. Then, let them know just how much you appreciate them.
6. Unplug and recharge your batteries. No matter how busy your schedule gets, every entrepreneur should take some much-needed time away from the office and digital devices. Take advantage, since this is often the one time of year when people expect you won’t be working (unless, of course, you’re involved in some kind of seasonal business). Downtime is the only real way to hit the reset button, both personally and professionally. And it will open the door to fresh perspectives and new inspiration.