I sincerely wish for you all a Happy Holiday season, but what I wish more for you is to be a more successful manager of your small business in 2018.

New Years resolutions should be applied to your professional pursuits, and as I see it, this is perfect timing for these two changes or adoptions. I believe these are legitimate and critical factors that you can ether add or do better over the next year.

Resolve to use social media

The use of social media is now an everyday part of running a business, and can especially be an value-added aspect to a small business. Building a social media strategy should become standard operating procedure for you and an integral part of your business plans and tactics. Plus, done smartly, it is very effective and cost efficient.

I believe there are tremendous advantages for small businesses with social media. Here's a brief list of some of the advantages:

  • You can build massive content based on your business, which builds legitimacy and expertise, and then just like the movie, Field of Dreams-- if you build it; they will come. Content building is king, and social media allows you to provide it in massive quantities.
  • It positions your small business as a community member. You can easily focus on your geographic area with non-selling product and service-based content marketing. For example, a local dentist just doesn't sell, they are a caring, active part of the community.
  • Social media can be very cost-effective, with great analytics available to fine tune what you do. Think about it-- with most all social media platforms, you yourself can track what works and when it works, without paying consultants or media/marketing specialists. 

Okay, I know your first response to this resolution: "I don't have the time or I don't understand it enough to use it." Sorry, but to me, this is an excuse. It's not as complicated as it seems on the surface. When you get past some of the vocabulary boundaries and understand things like SEO, algorithms, organic clicks, and on and on, it's s just another business tool. Don't let it freak you out.

Here's a great tip: I am a professor and can say that many current college students are really passionate, talented, and creative with social media, and many are also very adept with graphic design and photography.

Call or email a marketing or communications faculty at your local college or university and ask them if there's any students looking for an internship or work experience in social media. Often times you can find a very talented student who knows a lot more than you, and sometimes, you can even get them to work for your business for minimum wage, and sometimes even no pay. Current students need experience to help launch their careers after college, and certainly can assist you to enter or expand your social media in an inexpensive and creative way.

Resolve to educate yourself

Business books, magazines and online sites like Inc., online business sites podcasts, how-to-videos, free resources, and workshops are everywhere-- I urge you to use them to your advantage. Etch out time everyday to enlighten yourself. Read articles, talk to your local Chamber of Commerce, network on LinkedIn, etc.

If you are buying a car or a house, need surgery, or investigating financial planning, you do research, right? Are you educating yourself to improve your small business?

Thirty minutes after dinner or before lunch-- on your phone, or on your tablet, or in your earbuds while walking the treadmill. It is imperative to stay current and continually improve.

Being well read and up-to-date will help drive your passion to a new level, help you to think and act more creatively and strategically, and best of all, it gives you confidence that you are doing what's right to try and better your business acumen. That's a great way to approach a new year.