Before the New Year begins, as a business owner it’s important for you to take some time and evaluate what you like and dislike about your business. To assess your work load. And to outline your goals. To look ahead to the future.

Before you say you don’t have time to make lists or create plans, think about this. Jackson Brown Jr., the author of Life’s Little Instruction books, said, “Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson and Albert Einstein.”

The truth is we make time for the things that are important to us. And by taking some time to plan, in the long run, you will spend less time playing catch up or winging it.

To help you get off to a productive New Year, we’ve outlined seven steps to take.

  1. Take a sabbatical. Yes, we know the definition of sabbatical is vacation or retreat. And as a business owner, we know it’s almost next to impossible to get away for long periods of time. We recently spoke with a client who needs to have a hip replacement surgery but he said, “I am so busy with work, I don’t have time.” Here’s the truth about life, if we don’t make time, then unforeseen circumstances will force you to make time. By this we mean, if you keep pushing yourself to do more and more, eventually you will run out of gas and be forced to stay home either due to an illness or an injury. We suggest taking mini-sabbaticals. For one day or one week, keep a journal of what you do. Be honest and track those minutes you spend on social media. Then evaluate, what could go and how you could use that time to relax in a healthy manner. Even if it’s only for one hour a week, take some time to do something just for you. By investing in yourself, you will have more energy and enthusiasm for your work and prevent burnout.
  2. Start planning next December now. Get out the calendar and make notes of what you need to do each month. For example, order holiday décor for November in March or Valentine’s merchandise in October. Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”
  3. Set specific and realistic goals. Don’t write you want to increase sales. Be specific and have a plan. For example, say you want to increase sales by 5 percent and plan to do so by doing x, y and z.
  4. Attract new clients. Whether you decide to use advertising, a public relations campaign or social media, it’s important you are always looking for ways to attract new customers. From living in a small town, I always assume – wrongly – that people have heard of a certain restaurant, event or store. And if I received a dollar for every time someone told me they never heard of x, y or z business, I would have enough money for groceries for a month. And if you are courting new clients, trust us, your competition is.
  5. Be innovative. Don’t be afraid to take a risk this year and start that project you have always dreamed of doing. While your clients should be able to count on you for consistency, they also will admire you trying something new.
  6. Check your attitude. If you or your employees have bad attitudes or are always complaining about the business, you are going to turn clients away. Or you are going to make more mistakes. Again, this goes back to the first thing we said about how important it is for you to invest in yourself and your employees. Make going to work fun. Surprise your employees by bringing healthy treats or having a day where everyone where’s their favorite Hawaiian or college T-shirt. When people do the same old, same old every day, it seems like Groundhog’s day.
  7. Make a productive “To Do” list. Instead of writing a list of everything you need to accomplish in day, set aside a time to complete the task. For example:9 a.m. Have employee meeting to review dress code 10 a.m. Call tax account to schedule an appointment. We also suggest starting the day by doing what you dread first. By doing this, you are less likely to procrastinate and actually get the task accomplished.

Most importantly – realize it’s never too late to set goals and make a plan. If you find yourself reading this on March, 1, June 1 or September 1, don’t despair. You can still plan for the last eight, six or four months of the year. Here is wishing you a happy, joyous and healthy New Year.



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