It’s the beginning of a new year, which means many of us are making—and often quickly breaking—New Year’s resolutions.
The small business owners among us are also making resolutions on how to conduct themselves and their businesses more efficiently over the next year. But whether the goal is to be better about tracking expenses, or to show employees appreciation more frequently, you can bet that business resolutions are as difficult to keep as personal ones.
It’s one thing to make personal resolutions and not keep them—that extra 10 pounds you said you’d lose will still be there next year. Your business, if you’re not careful, may not be.
So here are nine ways you can stick to your business resolutions in the new year. Your bottom line will thank you:
Make small, realistic resolutions
This is good advice regardless of whether you’re making personal or business resolutions. The smaller and more achievable a goal is, the more likely you are to achieve it. Instead of “make way more money,” aim to be more profitable at least one month this year, for example.
Make lots of little resolutions for yourself rather than a few big ones. Your conversion rate will be higher, and you’ll give yourself many more occasions to celebrate your wins over the course of the year.
Focus on a couple of KPIs
Let’s get down to business: Use KPIs—key performance indicators—to actively measure what you can do better. KPIs help businesses put a measurable value on progress, and though they vary by industry, some nearly universal examples include “LTV” (lifetime value of a customer) or “ETR” (employee turnover rate).
Choose one or two KPIs and vow to improve them as part of your resolutions. The benefits here are two-fold: One, you already know that this metric is crucial to company success, and two, it will be easy to measure that success as you go.
Make addressing them a habit
It takes over two months, if not longer, for a new behavior to turn into a habit—but to do so, you need to perform the task nearly every day. Whatever your resolution is, make achieving it dependent on performing an action each work day. Whether it’s sending out pitch emails to 10 new clients, or updating the company Facebook page, you can find activities that can be broken down into daily action items.
A daily action plan, or taking the time out each day to review your goals and what steps you plan to take to reach them, will help you stay focused on the long-term strategy when you would otherwise get bogged down in the day-to-day duties of your job.
If your resolutions are good for your business, don’t just put it on yourself to reach these goals. Delegate responsibility to others on your team, whether they’re salaried employees or consultants you hire on an ad hoc basis. Not only will delegating mean your resolutions are more likely to get done, but granting autonomy is a good way to guarantee workplace satisfaction.
Use accountability apps
Just as with many things, when it comes to creating a habit, there’s an app for that. Use apps like Coach.me and Productive to add a level of automated support to your mission. These apps will do the dirty work of reminding you to complete a task, or hold you accountable when you don’t feel like sticking to your plans.
Tell your network
Have trouble keeping yourself in line? Create another level of accountability with each person you tell—and tell a lot of them. Tell your team, tell your support group, tell your mentor, even tell your family and friends. The added intrinsic pressure of knowing other people expect a new level of success from you may push you to even greater heights.
Tie the success of others into your resolutions
Telling people on your team about your resolutions is good—telling them that they can expect a raise or some other reward if you both reach certain milestones will further motivate you to accomplish your goal. It’s one thing to let yourself down if you don’t stick to your resolutions, but now you’ll also be disappointing an employee or team member if you fail, compounding the issue.
Invest in their success
The common “work out every day” resolution becomes more pressing when you join an expensive gym and realize you’re flushing money down the toilet whenever you don’t go. Similarly, invest in the resolutions you’re trying to make at work: pay to bring a marketing expert aboard to help you boost your social media game, or invest in HR software so you’re 100% compliant going forward. The financial investment will drive home the importance of this resolution.
When you do accomplish your goals or meet your new expectations, treat yourself. Give yourself a day off, take the team out to lunch, or simply allow yourself time to luxuriate in your win. Making a resolution and sticking to it is no easy task, so you should be rewarded appropriately when you do.
At the end of the day, only you can ensure that you are doing what you can to achieve your resolutions. The above tips are helpful, but they all boil down to the same thing: You have to hold yourself accountable. Unlike your personal resolution to eat more salads, however, sticking to your small business resolutions might be what keeps you in business altogether.