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Dec 30, 201309:02 AMSmall Business, Big Ideas

with Jean Willard

How to follow through on New Year’s resolutions for your business

(page 1 of 2)

As 2013 draws to a close, we clear our desks, prepare to celebrate with friends and family, and enjoy our holiday traditions. As the holiday season winds down, however, we set our sights on the new year — with new resolve and hopes for higher profits, healthier and happier employees, and fewer stresses.

Want to know how I tackle New Year’s resolutions? I forget about the old resolutions. Most of us want to lose weight, read more, exercise more, and enjoy life. But what do we do to follow through?

Many years ago I smoked cigarettes. I realized it was bad for me. I hated the smell and taste. But I loved the habit. The habit was the problem. Once I found a strategy to quit smoking that worked with my personality, the quitting wasn’t that hard. Did I take a misstep and go back to that habit? Of course, but I kept remembering what I needed to do to make the change.

So how does that relate to business? I have found in 30 years of working with people that we are all creatures of habit. People tend to bring their taxes into our office within three to five days of the date they brought their taxes in the year before. The lesson to be learned here is that our businesses can always be run better. We can be more attentive, more organized, closer to paperless. Look at the habits you are following without thinking. Can something be done differently? Better?

Resolve in the new year to change just one major thing that you have identified as a weakness in your processes. If it is poor hiring, do some reading to learn about generational differences. Learn what motivates people. Understand the differences between personalities and put some of those strategies to work. You won’t always be right or better, but if you are somewhat astute, you will recognize good ideas by how they affect the productivity and happiness of your employees. Resolve to make the change. Then make the change and circle back to evaluate the effect.

If your weakness is a bad spending pattern, budget your expenses for the following year and don’t just stop with the exercise. Instead, follow through to find out how your expenses were higher than budget and decide how to get them in line. Be critical of the process to determine how to improve profitability, and if you can’t think creatively, ask a trusted professional to give you some ideas. Read articles on the subject. Reach out to your trusted CPA or financial planner. Go to a reliable source like the AICPA, which has a number of financial resources. Follow through on the change; or at least make an effort.


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