Making New Year's resolutions for a small business is easy. What's hard is actually accomplishing these goals during the year. I have found that I can increase the odds of success by taking a few specific steps, including the following.
Make Resolutions Realistic and Challenging, Then Take Them Seriously
When it comes to making New Year's resolutions work for my business, my priority is that they be realistic, challenging and meaningful and, therefore, worthy of being taken seriously. On a personal level, resolutions often are made with good intentions, but they aren't pursued with serious intent. For my business, I don't want to fall into that trap. Instead, I want make sure that achieving a New Year's resolution will have a real and positive impact on my business's success and, therefore, that it will be worthy of serious attention.
Set Specific Goals
Many business resolutions are broad-brush goals, such as increasing sales or improving customer service. That's fine, but setting more specific, measurable targets related to each resolution gives me a way to judge progress during the year. For example, if my business's resolution is to accelerate sales growth, I might set a growth target of 20% for the year. In addition, I would set short-term goals, such as monthly or quarterly sales objectives, which, if achieved, can be stepping stones and confidence builders as I move toward the ultimate goal.
Identify Specific Strategies
Setting goals is great, but devising realistic strategies to achieve them is just as important. In particular, I focus on finding strategies to reach short-term goals that I can build on to make progress toward my long-term target. If double-digit sales growth is the annual goal, a new targeted marketing campaign or personal calls to existing customers might be good ways to generate incremental sales near term.
I try not to put off implementing strategies to achieve New Year's resolutions. After all, accomplishing a resolution by yearend will be easier if I give myself as much time as possible. Therefore, my first mini goal is to make some progress toward the full-year goal in January, no matter how modest that progress might be.
I find that tracking progress on New Year's resolutions should be done regularly. I like to evaluate where my business stands in relation to these goals at least quarterly, if not monthly. This is critical because it increases the odds of success by allowing me to determine which strategies are working and which aren't and to make adjustments quickly.
Finally, I try to be persistent in making progress toward accomplishing my business's New Year's resolutions. I know that it is likely that there will be setbacks during the year and that I won't always be able to give these goals the attention they deserve, but I try to be persistent in moving towards them, even if it is by fits and starts, so that I have a realistic chance of achieving them by yearend.
*Note: This was written by a Yahoo! contributor. Do you have a small business story that you'd like to share? Sign up with the Yahoo! Contributor Network to start publishing your own finance articles.