A new year begins in less than a week. Do you have a 2016 agenda that will move your business forward smartly? Here are 5 things that you can do to make next year a special one for your business:

Put Your Customer First: I know that every business leader says that the customer comes first. But, this often comes with a caveat, like, "as long as it doesn't cost too much to make it so." This year, change the dialogue and do whatever it takes to put your customer needs ahead of your own. If you make them happy, you'll have a customer for life. Put a customer service program in place, or renew commitment to an existing one, that is squarely aimed at delighting your customer upon every interaction that they have with your business. You'll be glad that you did when 2017 rolls around!

Commit to Making Your People Better: Employee development and training is another leadership mantra that often amounts to glorified lip service. Make 2016 the year of the employee. Invest in them and watch your pledge pay dividends in greater commitment and improved customer satisfaction. Staff development enhances product quality and service delivery, while elevating company pride and extending team spirit.

Commit to Improving Your Execution: Process improvement should be an ongoing, continuous activity that is so well ingrained in your company culture that your staff don't even recognize that they are in a constant state of refining the way that they work. If this is not the case at your place, make a vow to get the program started in 2016.

Commit to Automating Some Aspect of Your Business: Like the other suggestions offered above, this one requires some thought and intention to ensure that it is accomplished. But, by committing to automate even the most mundane of activities, you will realize the benefit of freeing staff from these chores and better enable them to contribute their brainpower for the good of the Company.

Take Up a Common Cause: This one can be focused for either internal improvement (overcome a competitor) or external "do-gooding" (help to fix a societal wrong)-that's up to you! You want to choose a compelling reason for your people to join together in achieving something. Pursuing a common cause is a perfect way to bring your team together and enhance their commitment to the business.

As 2015 comes to an end, it is important for business leaders to set the stage for success in the coming year. While the specifics must be tailored for each business, my hope is that the ideas offered here can serve as an outline for your plan to enhance the lives of those that you employ and that you serve. If you can do that, your business will succeed in 2016!

If you like this column, subscribe to email alerts and you'll never miss an article.