As I was writing this annual column on new year's resolutions, I asked a colleague for his business resolutions for 2003. He replied, "Why bother? Nobody ever keeps resolutions." Not true! A number of years ago, I made a new year's resolution to drink more champagne. And I've kept it ever since!
That exchange made me realize that it's easier to keep resolutions if you adopt resolutions that make your life more enjoyable. So I've decided to focus this year's business resolutions on things that will increase the joy I get in my work:
Make more money. Let's face it -- business is a lot more fun when you're making money. It's not merely the material things you can buy, the employees you can hire, or the relief you get from financial stress. Being able to support yourself, whether from a business or a job, adds tremendously to your sense of self-worth. And when that money comes from a business you created yourself, then you get a particular sense of pride and accomplishment. So, in 2003, I'm going to focus my energies on those things that directly bring in cash. That means I'm going to concentrate more time and attention on sales activities, and I'm going to find ways to leverage our best-selling products into additional income.
Get big projects finished faster. I'm the kind of person who's very goal-oriented, so when I'm in the midst of a big project, I generally hate going through the process (for instance, writing books!), so I tend to drag my feet and take way too long completing them. This year, I'm going to keep reminding myself of the final goal as a way to keep me moving faster.
Have more business lunches. I'm always counseling others on the importance of staying in touch with customers and referral sources -- both current and potential. After all, people are busy with their own lives, and they can quickly forget about you and your business. So, it's critical to make periodic phone calls or have occasional lunches just to touch base and say hello. Unfortunately, I often fail to take my own advice. In 2003, I'm going to make a list of people who could potentially bring me more business and have lunch with each of them. After all, I like going out to lunch!
Go to more networking events. When I was first building my business, I went to lots of trade and entrepreneur events. Over the years, as I've gotten busier, I stopped attending. Well, it's time to join industry and community associations again! It helps build business, and it's fun to meet new people.
Reduce time I spend on stuff I hate. As a publisher, we ship lots of books. Years ago, every order used to be a big production. Then we got shipping software from FedEx, integrated the invoicing and shipping with our QuickBooks, ordered supplies of appropriate packing materials, and voila! Now it takes only minutes to fill a big order. If there's stuff you hate to do but have to do over and over again, look for ways to make it all routine and spend less time on stuff you hate doing.
Bring fresh flowers to the office. For me, few things brighten up a work atmosphere as much as flowers. I almost always had flowers on my desk when I worked at home, but not at the office. This year -- more flowers!
Accomplish one challenging, important new thing. I love learning something new and solving problems. But I often take on too many new things at once. The result? None of them get fully completed. This year, I'm going to choose one new project that's really important for my business -- a new product or a new sales channel -- and make that one issue the primary focus of my restless energy. That way, I know that by January 1, 2004, I will have accomplished at least one major new thing this year.
Whatever you choose to do for your business in 2003, I hope you have a fun, prosperous, and healthy new year.
Copyright Rhonda Abrams, 2002
Rhonda Abrams writes the nation's most widely-read small business column and is the author of The Successful Business Plan and The Successful Business Organizer . To receive Rhonda's free business tips newsletter, register at www.RhondaOnline.com.