Martha Spelman Hand Reaching for Stars to illustrate Are You Ready for a Better Business in 2016?Every business owner wants a “better business” and has said, at some point, “If only…” “If only I could strengthen my brand, get more leads, improve operations, buy new equipment.”

As 2015 draws to a close, business owners are anticipating 2016. The start of new year is a great time to set goals, resolve to run a better business and now is the time to figure out how.

What’s your “If only…?”

Start by filling in this blank: 2016 will be the year I/We will _______________.

Here are some better business goals:

  • Double lead generation
  • Increase revenue by 15%
  • Redesign the company website
  • Pay down debt
  • Re-position the business
  • Build the company brand
  • Add new products or services (or trim those that are unprofitable)
  • Purchase new equipment
  • Add staff
  • Set up an automated or cloud system to manage operations, accounting, manufacturing or marketing
  • Start a content marketing program
  • Move to a new location
  • Become a known industry expert and thought leader
  • Streamline ____________ (Sales, Accounting, Bidding, etc.)
  • Get bigger, better projects or accounts

The list, of course, is endless. But you can start by deciding what a “Better Business” looks like to you.

Here are 7 steps to follow for Your New Year’s Better Business Resolution:

1. Set a goal: make it reasonable and achievable; it should be a stretch but not unattainable.

2. Research: what’s involved in reaching your goal. Perhaps you need to educate yourself about what might be required, conduct “group think” sessions with colleagues or coworkers or consult with experts. It may be prudent to choose two or three goals and explore each idea.

3. Forecast: play the “What If?” game — part of your research should include forecasting what the outcome of a particular goal might be. This could include both positive outcomes (like increased profit or company recognition) but may have some downside like necessitating more staff, new hardware, software or equipment purchases, increased inventory, more space, taking on debt, etc. Some goals may sound positive but it’s important to estimate what the ROI will be. Moving to fancy new offices or buying an expensive piece of machinery might sound good but examining all consequences first is crucial.

4. Plan: document, in writing, how you will achieve your goal — what steps will you take, establish a timeline and determine milestones, assess what resources and support will be required.

5. Be Accountable: telling others what you hope to achieve adds an imperative to your work. Your confidante can be as private as someone in your family or your coworkers or as public as announcing the goal on your company blog (now you’re really on the hook!).

6. Track Your Progress: once you’ve determined your goal, done your research and established milestones, you need to be diligent about monitoring that progress. Setting “Accountability” meetings – weekly or monthly — will help assure the work gets done…and the goal is reached.

7. Most importantly: don’t get discouraged…and don’t give up! Attaining some goals may be more difficult than reaching others. You may find you need increased resources or additional time. Maybe you’ll need to “pivot” or adjust your expectations.

Stay the course and you’ll end up with two victories: a better business and the satisfaction that comes with achieving your goal. Congratulations!