The start of a new year is a great time for business owners to take stock from the previous year of what worked, what didn’t, and what needs to change in the business, or within you, to create a profitable business.

Take the time to consider these five questions and answer them honestly.

  1. What were my main sources of stress, and what can I do to change them for this year?
  2. What were my main sources of fulfillment, and how can I do more of that this year?
  3. Markets change nearly every year. What were my customers really buying from me last year? And will they want to buy the same thing this year? If not, what do they really want to buy? (Hint: it’s probably not what you think!)
  4. What’s currently happening in my market that I must address proactively this year before my competitors do?
  5. It’s important to get distance and perspective that can only come from taking time off. How much time will I take off this year, and when?
    (My personal belief is that business owners should take a minimum of 6 weeks off each year.)

An important point about using these questions in the best way: Answer Them.

Don’t just skim through them and answer them in your head. That’s what busy, overwhelmed, overcommitted entrepreneurs will tend to do. But this is the time to start doing things differently. Often business owners will focus on questions #3 and #4 because they relate to markets, and hence appear to be the most important ones on the list.

It is just as important to answer the other questions thoughtfully as well. If you don’t take decisive, committed action to address your levels of stress and fulfillment, or don’t deliberately plan in time to get away and gain perspective, you will simply recreate the same overworked, overcommitted, overwhelmed experience from the past.

It IS time to do things differently.