COMMENTARY| Every December I hop the New Year's resolution bandwagon. Like personal goals, I set goals for me and my husband's distribution business. However, as I wind down my nineteenth year as a small business owner, I've learned that crafting relaxed business resolutions work best for me.
Each year I focus on one to three goals. I don't waste energy preparing a list of fantasy goals I know in my heart I, nor the company, can carry out. It's still fun to dream, though.
'Less' is 'More'
When our outdoor play systems' business was in its infant stage, my New Year's goals took up three or four notebook pages. I listed everything from doing a couple million dollars in sales each year to owning a grand building that would serve as our warehouse and main office.
Nineteen years later, our company still rents a warehouse, several stores, and offices. The price of commercial real estate in New England is ridiculous. A few years ago when the U.S. recession began, sales plummeted; we were thankful we didn't have the huge expense of a commercial mortgage payment hanging over our heads.
Many small business owners get in financial trouble because they believe buying a dazzling storefront will grow their business. Many companies fold because of unnecessary debt.
My resolution to own a building turned to a new goal of unearthing good landlords and reasonable rents. Big goals are great, but manageable goals are better.
Reworking a New Year's Goal
I recall one goal: I'd had enough with demanding customers who intimidate me. So, I decided I'd view "every" shopper as my dream customer. All my customers would be easygoing, understanding, friendly, patient, and I threw in; willing to spend money. I spent endless hours affirming this noble but disappointing goal.
That December, I adjusted the goal: I resolved to stop taking customers' rude behavior as a personal assault. Viola! Sometimes I work too hard on wording a goal. Create simple resolutions.
Resolutions - Not a Business Plan
My New Year's resolutions for the company aren't a business plan. While our annual business plan is fundamental and elaborate, I like to keep my resolutions on the lighter side. It's not that I stopped dreaming big: I still plan to own a grand building and see annual sales in the millions. For now, I'll start taking a walk during my lunch break at work; that sounds like a reasonable resolution. Happy New Year!
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