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New Year’s Resolutions for Small Businesses

Personal resolutions can also be helpful in ecommerce.

With each year’s end, many of us vow to do things differently or try something that we’ve never attempted. For business owners, personal resolutions can often translate to meaningful business goals, too.

As you consider some of the time-honored resolutions many people make each year, notice how those resolutions can also work to address obstacles or opportunities in your business. Done thoughtfully—and with dedication—this year’s resolutions just might serve dual purpose, giving you twice the result for your effort.

Become a better listener … to your customers

Many personal resolution lists begin with the desire to be more attentive, empathetic and understanding of others.

While it’s easy to get into a mode of telling your customers how to do business with you, it’s very beneficial if you give them the opportunity to tell you what they like

This is a noble trait to cultivate in ourselves, of course, but it can be a real difference maker to small businesses, too.

While it’s easy to get into a mode of telling your customers how to do business with you, it’s very beneficial if you give them the opportunity to tell you what they like and what they don’t like.

One of the best ways to start your business planning in the new year is to present a survey—either on your site or in direct messaging to this year’s customers—or ask what they liked most about your business, what they liked least and what suggestions they might have.

You’ll be surprised with what people will tell you, and you’ll be amazed at what you can learn to help your business when you commit yourself to listening.

Lose weight … by eliminating business waste

Another common resolution deals with addressing excess and trimming fat.

Personally, this is a healthy choice, albeit one that requires patience and persistence to see real results. For your business, you likely also have accumulated some excess you’d be better off eliminating.

Look at your business processes and determine where time, effort or money is being lost. Look at your inventory and seek out failing goods that have gone stagnant but are nonetheless requiring your resources to maintain the static presence. And check your inventory and operating costs, and look for any items or methods that don’t provide the return you expected they would.

Look at your business processes and determine where time, effort or money is being lost. Look at your inventory and seek out failing goods

As with personal weight loss, don’t expect to identify and correct all the waste in your business in one fell swoop. Rather, identify a list of things to address then attack them week by week to avoid being overwhelmed.

The results of eliminating waste in your business will take time to bear results, but if you’re patient and persistent, you will win the war on waste.

Exercise … your business expertise

Oftentimes, resolution lists include more exercise. For each of us, a well-exercised body increases energy, wards off illness and even provides varying degrees of euphoric feeling.

Yes, small businesses can enjoy similar benefits when you exercise the business principles that helped you launch your venture in the first place. When was the last time you updated your business plan? How about your business budgeting? Are you flexing those numbers and checking your results on a regular basis?

How about your organization practices? Are you keeping to your routine and looking for ways to streamline your business to run even leaner and stronger than before?

Consult business organizations, like the U.S. Small Business Administration, entrepreneur resources and so on, to see what you can add to your business regimen.

Keep what you know well exercised, and then look to add to that to achieve the next level of business fitness

Look for places to learn more about business by taking classes, attending seminars and even joining local groups. Keep what you know well exercised, and then look to add to that to achieve the next level of business fitness.

Rekindle your passion … for what started your business

Sometimes, we take what we have for granted, becoming lulled into a sleepy state of conduct with each passing day. For couples, there’s usually a resolution to fan those original flames of passion to keep getting the most from each day together.

For small businesses, it might be time to strengthen that relationship with whatever moved and motivated you to start your business. If your efforts feel rather hum-drum and don’t seem to bring about the sort of excitement you originally had, it’s time to shake things up.

Maybe you need to expand your products or services—or reduce them to regain your original focus—to rediscover that original burning passion. Maybe it’s time to update the look and feel of your store, online or off, to add a fresh new feeling.

Maybe it’s time to introduce something new to your offerings, introducing a bit of risk but maybe a bounty of possible reward. That, after all, is what is usually at the heart of a businessperson’s passion.

Celebrate your successes … and your business’s

Perhaps the biggest reason many don’t follow through with their well-intentioned resolutions is because they forget to celebrate their progress and accomplishments.

Big results take time. When someone sets a goal to lose 40 pounds in a year, that person will monitor his progress as he loses 2 pounds, then another 3, then 4 more and so on. For your business, give it—and yourself—a regular pat on the back as you gradually tick up your month-end revenue, whittle down those overhead costs and implement new changes to improve your customers’ experiences.

For your business, give it—and yourself—a regular pat on the back

If you receive good feedback, take time to enjoy that since it’s a sign of your progress to your resolution goals. Reward yourself, and anyone who might work with you, when you see progress as it occurs.

Enjoy a special dinner, buy a much-needed—and well—earned piece of new equipment, or just take a day away to relax. Each time you acknowledge your successes, you also acknowledge you’re keeping to your resolutions, motivating you to continue on in reaching your goal.

New Year’s resolutions don’t need to be a frivolous exercise of futility, made tonight and forgotten tomorrow. When you want to make real changes and gain real results, all you need to do is identify reasonable goals and make each day a new opportunity to achieve them.

For yourself and for your business, New Year’s resolutions might be just the ticket to achieve more and enjoy the fruits of your efforts.

About the author

Dennis L. Prince
Dennis L. Prince has been analyzing and advocating the e-commerce sector since 1996. He has published more than 12 books on the subject, including How to Sell Anything on eBay...and Make a Fortune, second edition (McGraw-Hill, 2006) and How to Make Money with MySpace (McGraw-Hill, 2008). His insight is actively sought within online, magazine, television and radio venues. Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.



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