Written by: Kevin Gardner
There's no better time than the new year for fresh starts and new ideas. Maybe you've had plans on the back burner to change up a few things in your business. If so, now is the perfect time to put those plans into action. It's likely that your employees have fresh beginnings on their minds, too, and may also be inspired to help you. These five tips can help you make your business thrive in the new year.
1. Try a New Tool Every Month
New digital tools are created every day, and some of them might be just what your business needs this year. For example, you may discover that a GPS time clock helps you track employees in the field more efficiently than your current method. Perhaps a social media manager saves you time by letting you post to all your accounts from one place. Project management software may be what your team needs to improve communication and track assignments more efficiently.
Think of areas in your workflow that could use some improvement, and research tools that are designed to help. Many are available on a free trial basis, so you might be able to test the app to see how it works for you before making a financial commitment.
2. Track Your Numbers
Keeping records of everything helps with consistency. Each day, set aside some time to look at your numbers and see what they tell you. Base decisions accordingly. Is your sales team stretched too thin? Did your utility bill go up this month? Would you save money by closing early on Saturday? Consistent data records will help you answer these questions, train employees accordingly and show you where your efforts need to go next.
3. Keep Your Plan Flexible
Creating a plan is essential. That said, adjusting your plan is equally important. If life throws out some curve balls this year, you don't want to have a plan that is set in stone. Employees come and go. The economy changes. Even weather patterns might affect your business. If you have to throw out your original plan for this year and start over completely, that's not a sign of failure — it's a sign of flexibility and willingness to adapt to changing circumstances.
4. Listen to Others
Sometimes it's hard to set ego aside and take advice from advisors or peers. After all, no one knows your business better than you, right? A different perspective, however, is sometimes just the thing your business needs. Advisors can give pointers you haven't considered in the past. They can hold you accountable for your goals and ensure you follow through on your promises, even when it's hard. Good advisors can also listen to your ideas and act as a sounding board.
Remember to keep your emotions out of your business decisions; it's tempting sometimes to act on feelings, but clear-headed choices are almost always the best ones.
5. Remember to Delegate
Some business owners struggle with micromanagement, especially in a small business where they often have to wear multiple hats. Taking control of every aspect, however, when you have employees is usually not the best strategy. Giving your staff clear direction on what is expected of them and empowering them to do their work is the primary job of a manager. When employees feel you trust them and have confidence in them, they will likely do their work to your satisfaction. They may even exceed your expectations and provide better results than you anticipated. If two heads are better than one, you have lots to gain from the added value of different ideas and perspectives.
Sometimes, carrying out new plans takes time — maybe months, or even the whole year. Other times, small and fairly painless changes can make a difference. Let the new year inspire you to move forward with your plans, and you can enjoy the satisfaction of watching your ideas in action.