At the beginning of each year, many people set new year's resolutions to help themselves reach their own personal goals. Whether it's to improve productivity, to make better use of what time they have, or to boost their overall health and wellness, people try to use the new year to wipe the slate clean. Setting goals at the start of a new year gives everyone a chance to start over with healthier, more effective behavior.

Businesses can implement the same technique in their own operating procedures. The beginning of a new year for many means a new opportunity to review some things your business is currently doing and decide where you can make adjustments or changes. Here are three areas you can focus attention on as 2015 begins.

1. Using Outdated Tech

Don't get stuck technologically in a long-passed era. Other companies, many of which now move at the fast pace of constantly shifting tech trends, will make you look outdated and unable to compete. Conduct a quick inventory of your office and consider technology you may still be using that is long past its prime. This includes fax machines, old copiers, and decades-old deskjet printers. Instead, invest in a multifunction printer that allows you to scan, copy, and print, and use a cloud fax service to send documents.

While you're rethinking your office equipment, take time to consider the tools you use in meetings. Instead of showing up with a legal pad and pen or, worse, a paper-based daily planner, use a digital daily planner or a note-taking app on a tablet. You'll not only be more productive, but your associates and clients will see you as progressive. You may also save money, which could be the most important reason of all to make these changes.

2. Competing With Big Brands

If you consider big-box retailers your competition, you may be missing valuable marketing opportunities. Instead of trying to take on the national chains in your town, use your local advantage to reach out to customers. While you can't compete with the volume discounts and loss leaders big companies leverage, you can win by offering unique products and a personalized level of customer service that can't be matched by bigger companies.

Instead of trying to beat the competition, consider ways you can reach local customers this year. Focus your marketing efforts on emphasizing those things that make your business unique and customers should naturally follow. This is especially important as Google and Amazon expand their delivery services to include same-day delivery options in more cities than ever.

3. Wasting Time

American businesses waste an estimated $37 billion each day on unnecessary meetings, with employees suffering as a result. Perhaps the biggest time waster is the roundtable meeting, which brings employees together for the sole purpose of updating each other on their general statuses. Employees often feel duty bound to be present at these meetings, whether they have something to say or not. Even worse, many attendees are often so focused on what they plan to say, they pay little attention to what anyone else is saying.

Instead of a roundtable status-update meeting, consider switching to a collaboration tool that can accomplish the same goals in less time. Each employee can regularly post status updates to keep the team aware of his or her progress without carving time out to sit in a meeting. It's important to set these tools up so that they are an essential part of operations, however. Otherwise, employees may neglect to regularly check in, making the software less effective than it should be.

Consumers aren't the only ones who can implement new year's resolutions. Businesses can refresh their own goals at the beginning of each year to improve efficiency and maybe even be more successful than ever. One of your goals should be to innovate how you do business as time passes. Once you've set goals, share them with the rest of your team to make sure you're all working together to make it all run better.

Published on: Jan 6, 2015