Most people don't keep their New Year's resolutions. In fact, research shows that four out of five of them will fall by the wayside by early February.

Why? Some goals are too huge. Some goals are too difficult. Some goals take too much time from other important tasks.

But another reason so many New Year's resolutions fail is because they're boring. The best goals truly energize and engage you and your employees.  The best goals don't feel like same (stuff), different day. The best goals require thought, innovation, and creativity -- all of which will fuel your startup's growth.

Want to make a few New Year's resolutions that you and your business will actually keep? Start with these three:

1. Resolve to partner with a competitor.

I know. You compete for the same customers -- and the same dollars. But there are definitely times when working with your competition can be mutually beneficial.

Amazon is a great example. Amazon's Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA) program brings third-party sellers into Amazon's online store.  Sellers benefit because they can run their own e-commerce businesses while letting Amazon take care of logistics, warehousing, packaging, shipping, etc.  In return, Amazon takes a percentage of revenues and, not incidentally, dramatically increases the number of products available to customers. While bringing third-party sellers into the Amazon "tent" might sound counterintuitive, clearly it works: FBA now makes up over 50 percent of Amazon's sales.

We've done the same thing at LogoMix. We partnered with Weebly. We partnered with GoDaddy. Sure, we were competitors, but work together to make the tide rise and everyone's boats float higher.

Commit to finding a way to partner with a competitor. Maybe you can join together to support a charitable cause. Or join together to create economies of scale. Or find ways to cross-sell.

And if you can't do that, at the very least find ways to partner with a business that is complementary. If you sell products, partner with a business that installs, services, or enhances those products. If you're a service provider, partner with a company to provide a bundle of services and products.

You don't always have to try to beat your competition. Sometimes, you can both win.

2. Resolve to launch that "one" initiative.

You know the one. We all have it: the idea, the goal, the plan, that one thing you think about but never do.

Resolve to start it.

Maybe you haven't because you're uncertain. Or hesitant. Or even afraid. That's natural. Fear of failure keeps us all from trying new things.

And maybe you won't succeed. At least, not at first. But once you start, you get to apply all the skills and knowledge and experience you possess. You can revise. You can adapt. You can pivot. You can do what you already do extremely well: turn effort into achievement.

While there's no guarantee you'll succeed, if you don't launch, you can never succeed.

Resolve to launch.

3. Resolve to "fire" one customer.

Early on, especially when you need the revenue, it's tempting to take on a customer that requires significant effort to service. But "over servicing" that customer doesn't make sense once you can generate sufficient revenue from a broad base of customers.

Take a hard look at your margins by customer. Chances are you'll find at least one that requires five or ten times the customer service time, and is therefore unprofitable. 

If you can't find a way to make a customer relationship profitable, let them go. And then devote the time you save to servicing an even broader base of profitable customers.

Published on: Dec 25, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.