10 Smart New Year Business Resolutions
At this time of year individuals often try to make firm promises to change something about themselves. It's usually to stop smoking, start exercising and eat less.
It's also a time that men naturally take stock of other things in their life, like their business goals and direction.
In the holiday period you are naturally not so busy. You've had some festive cheer and had time to take walks around the neighbourhood to see what your neighbours are up to.
- Does your website contact page have a postal address?
Maybe you've gone for a walk in the woods or up a mountain and gotten a different perspective than 'nose to the grindstone, get to the weekend' mentality the comprises much of the business week.
Here are 10 ideas about what to focus on in 2019.
1. Get it in writing
Verbal agreements are written in the wind. If you've done major deals, interior or exterior to your company, but they're not in writing, change that fast.
Everyone needs to know their obligations; who, what, when, where, and why. A simple contract means there'll be no misunderstandings later.
2. Pay taxes
The deadline for payment of self-employed taxes is coming up soon in the UK (31st January). If you've not started on your returns, do so now. Make sure you (or your accountant) have login access to HMRC to submit your returns speedily when your books are brought up to date.
3. Seek out partnerships
They don't need to be symbiotic. Even the guy who runs the cafe you go to might have one good idea. People in the same or associated industries might be able to help you (and you them), as long as you're not directly competing.
The point is not to operate in a sealed-off bubble. Even big companies can get blind-sided by a cheeky upstart. They turn in on themselves and start competing internally. Long-term, this can be fatal.
4. Delegate more
Keep the fun stuff to yourself and delegate the dull stuff to employees or contractors. It's foolish to work 80-hour weeks and be un-clogging the company toilet yourself because 'you want it done right'.
5. Make specific, dated goals
A vague resolution to do X some time before July will mean X will probably never be done.
Set a time and date, with details, of what X is and when it has to be done, and set a reminder, either electronically or on a calendar you look at every day.
6. Declutter your brain
Have a system of note-taking which means you can access important ideas quickly.
The ideal is that you can take a week's holiday, come back to work, open up the spreadsheet/calendar/notebook and get right back into the flow without having to fumble around like a bumpkin.
Entrepreneurs tend to be clever people. Clever people tend to have good memories. Relying on your memory as your business grows will mean important meetings are missed and important documents are not signed. That is not clever!
7. More marketing!
Sometimes, the business of business gets in the way of getting new custom. Getting out there and blowing your trumpet can be stressful, especially for introverts.
A business that isn't actively looking for new business can soon become moribund. Only someone with a monopoly of an essential good can afford to sit back and take things easy. Even then, monopolies don't last forever.
Someone will see that you're doing well and find some way to dislodge you. Or you will make an error, founded in complacency.
Make a list of promotional ideas as you go along and refer back to it any time you feel the company is 'running out of steam'.
8. Update your business plan
We don't mean the thing you gave your bank when applying for a loan. We mean your weekly, monthly and yearly to-do list.
A clever man can keep most of it in his head, but then he finds the authorities start sending him evil brown envelopes because he forgot to fill in a particular form. He has a clever idea while having a bath, writes it on a scrap of paper and then forgets it; free zero-point energy then takes another decade to become publicly available because some other genius has to think it up.
9. Keep reading, keep researching
You can ask any question you like of a search engine and get a coherent answer. Even late in the second decade of the 21st century, most people don't capitalise on this. Forums have learned men who are happy to help a newbie, if only he can ask the right question of them.
Most citizens use Google to find pictures of cats and the shortest route to a pizzeria. They could be answering their most fundamental questions, while sipping coffee in their living room, instead.
10. Start exit planning
If you should ever need to quit your business, or you might want to sell it one day, have an exit plan in place.
Most important: get clear in you head what the actual value in your business is.
If specific individuals, contracts or relationships are essential to ongoing profitability, either lock those down in writing or find alternatives for a specific deal, should that deal, based on a personal relationship, collapse.
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