As the year comes to a close, it's the perfect time to take stock of your big wins over the past year and to assess the areas you need to improve in. There's bound to be some ideas you've meant to implement for a while now. Heck, maybe some from the previous year! No matter what type of business you're in, here are five New Year's resolutions every business owner can benefit from.

Get Rid of Bad Apples

Letting an employee go (even when more than warranted) is one of the more challenging parts of being a small business owner. But really, if you're going to start the year off right there's no better way than to sever your ties with a "toxic employee." Problematic employees deplete your confidence as a leader, drain energy from good employees, and could potentially negatively impact your customers. All of this directly impacts your business.

Use the New Year as an opportunity to start fresh by dealing with those employees who have become a problem. It's never worth losing a good employee to a bad one that pushes them out.

Pass Go and Collect Your Dues

A lot of businesses, especially small businesses, have a bad habit of letting customers slack on paying the money they owe. Some fear coming off as pushy and upsetting their customers. Others may have a disorganized collection process. Some may have no process at all.

Start the year off right and make getting paid a priority. Set aside a block of time every week that is solely dedicated to following up on the dues you are owed. The influx of cash will not only invigorate your business, but you'll be setting up good collection habits for yourself for years to come.

Follow Up With Old Friends

It is inevitable that you will lose touch with some customers and partners over the course of time. The New Year is a great excuse to reach out and see how they have been. It will re-energize the relationship and get them reunited with your business.

Customers appreciate follow up - it shows you care. Creating new ways to keep in touch with customers and checking in at big moments throughout the year will help drive sales and create advocates for the business.

Launch a Monthly Marketing Strategy

Want to figure out the fastest way to grow your business? You have to test new ways to reach your customers constantly. By testing a new marketing strategy each month, you can see what works and what doesn't.

For example, you could launch a customer reactivation campaign that targets all of your prior customers who didn't buy from you in 2016. Or you could hold a prospecting event at your store. Or host an educational event online. A great way to test your content efforts is to split your customer list in two and send variations of emails or newsletters to see which one drives more engagement.

If you hold yourself to this for an entire year, you will gain a level of clarity into your marketing that will pay off for years to come.

Automate Away

There's a lot of really great technology available designed to easily handle the repetitive tasks that pull you away from taking care of the number one concern - growing the business. Automation can take care of collections, new customer communications, follow-ups, and a lot more. Small business owners only have so much available time, and automation can free time up while also nurturing relationships across your contact list

Hit 2017 hard at the start and establish best practices that will carry throughout the year (and for years to come).

Published on: Dec 2, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.