Updated: Jan 5
Scene: Here we are entering 2023 with red eyes and mussed hair trying to figure out how we made it through the insanity of the past few years. Eyes shifting erratically to and fro with the confusion of what we should be expecting in the new year, given the recent track record.
End Scene: To the rescue Out of the Box Advisors rides! Gathering together some of what you should consider your new year’s resolutions to help you charge forth into the unknown of 2023!
Ever since the end of 2019, things have been a bit rocky for the average small business owner. Everything from lockdowns to extreme difficulty in hiring talent has given us more sleepless nights than the norm. Most of those hurdles were both unpredictable and unavoidable. As a silver lining, some of the craziness that happened in the past few years can help us predict and plan for items in the year to come.
Take the following small business resolutions and massage them to work for your small business. Each one should have a nugget that you can use for your specific business; or at the very least, shake some ideas loose that you can use to help you succeed in 2023!
1. Control the Recession – Don’t Let the Recession Control You
“I will take charge of my business’ financial strategy in preparation for a possible recession!”
We, the stoic small business owners, all know that there is a recession coming up on the horizon (or it’s already here!). This is one of those things we mentioned that we could predict was coming awhile back with the combination of spending and interest policies at the national level.
Those decisions can have an incredible impact on your growth strategy… which can be a frightening prospect.
Thankfully, through some strategic planning and research, you can grab the recession demon by the horns and wrestle control of your business’ success back into your capable hands. The alternative is that you’ll be spending all of 2023 being reactionary and never getting ahead of the problem.
Review your pricing strategy:
Take a serious look at your pricing strategy and compare that to your competition. During a recession, potential customers are going to be far more price dependent on their buying decisions. Make sure you take that into account and make any needed adjustments.
Review unnecessary expenses:
Take a good hard look at your P&L and see where there are opportunities. Things like “Food & Entertainment” should be at the top of the chopping block.
Review your competition:
Have new competitors entered the market? Which competitors are the least likely to survive a recession? (You could potentially acquire them or their market share!)
2. Set Clear and SMART Goals for the New Year
“I will set SMART Goals for my small business this year!”
This is the perfect time of year to craft your goals for the growth of your business. Goals help you measure the success of your business throughout the entire year. For example, as you conduct your mid-year review how would you know the trajectory of the year if not for comparing it to the established goals?
Goals are incredibly important, but they are also highly volatile beasts if not crafted correctly. They can be demoralizing if you’re falling far behind an exorbitant goal. Or they can invite complacency if you’re “meeting” your ridiculously-low-aspiring goals.
The key to this is to make sure that you craft your goals using the SMART goal method. We have already created a lengthy piece on both how to set SMART goals as well as a few examples for you to work from.
3. Nurturing Instead of Neglecting Your Finances
“I will make decisions that nurture the financial health of my small business!”
This resolution can turn into a web of complexity if we don’t refine it down a bit. While you should be reviewing the more nauseating aspects (Debt / Income Ratios, Depreciation on Assets, etc.) with your CPA or Business Coach on a regular basis, your new year’s resolution is more about the continued nurturing of your financial status.
How can you best execute this resolution?
1. Avoid flippant spending:
We already touched on this one, but it applies here as well. To follow through on this resolution, you could implement a process that checks the validity over each expense before you pull the trigger.
2. Cut down on waste:
Specifically, we mean the waste on the production side of the equation. Are you paying overtime for work that could be done in the normal business hours? Find ways to maximize your profitability by reducing waste.
3. Look at your personal finances:
Since we primarily write for the benefit of small business owners, your personal finances can have a massive impact on your business. Look at your compensation and even personal buying habits to find ways to improve your business.
4. Send Yourself Out into the World and Network
“I will work to increase the size of my network to enhance my small business’ reach!”
Like every small business owner out there, networking is likely a way of life. The caveat for this small business resolution is that you should be focusing your networking efforts on only those connections that advance your business. That mortgage broker could be an amazing person, but they are not likely to send regular business to your dental practice.
No one is saying you can’t also be close friends with the mortgage broker, but in terms of attending networking events or groups, you should exclusively spend your time on persons that enhance your business in some way.
There’s no point in investing hours upon hours of time attending these events only to connect with other businesses that would have difficulty passing leads directly to you via their own business.
Sure, the broker has friends and family that might need a dentist… but they only have so many friends and family. Make connections that can be lasting in terms of business.
5. Avoid the Ego: Stop Being So Stubborn and Ask for Outside Help
“Instead of trying to carry the load of business ownership myself, I will seek help growing my business!”
Since we are all small business coaches here at Out of the Box Advisors, we are a bit biased on this particular resolution. We absolutely want you to seek outside help because we do this precisely to help you grow. HOWEVER, that being said, we want to support the case for asking for help even if you don’t choose us. Regardless of who you reach out to for help in the coming year, you’ll be taking a step closer to success.
Let’s talk ego for a moment. One of the biggest resistance items for asking for help… is the ego. Most people are typically one of two types:
They are the smartest humans alive and know everything already; or
They think that asking for help makes them less of a business owner for some reason or another.
This simple truth is that both of those types are wrong.
Asking for help does not diminish your personal potential in any way. If anything, it can enhance them! A great example would be an electrician. They might be the best electrician there ever was, but their skills in marketing are limited at best. By asking for help in the marketing realm, it empowers them to put more energy into where they shine!
Examples and Food for Thought:
You need to make a massive business decision to either turn right or left. You’re pretty sure that you need to turn right, but you’re afraid that doing so will lead to failure. By asking for help, you can tap into the experience and logical thinking of another mind. Perhaps at the very least they simply confirm that turning right is the correct choice. Imagine the weight of stress off your shoulders and confidence gained by having your choice validated and supported.
You’re entering your third year of business and you’re getting to the point of success that you might want to open another location or otherwise expand. But you’re not sure on the best way to go about managing two locations, or perhaps you don’t know what changes to your business plan you need to make. Having a guiding light in all that uncertainty sure is handy.
You’re a startup and you know your idea inside out and backwards, but you’ve never run a business before. There are so many speed bumps along the way (even for long-existing businesses!) that having someone guide you away from those rookie mistakes could save your precious start up budget and increase success potential.
6. Focus on Others – in More Ways Than One
“I vow to work, build, and analyze the relationships surrounding my small business!”
Focus on Internal Relationships
The atmosphere within your small business can be the difference between success and failure. Spend some time checking in with your employees. See what you can do to be a better business owner in 2023. Do you need to make changes to the culture? How about the overall morale of your team?
If everything is great so far, then invest in creating a policy for detecting when things are out of alignment in the future. Make sure you review that policy at least quarterly throughout the year.
Focus on Supplier and Vendor Relationships
As a matter of practice, you should always be re-evaluating the relationships of your partners. This is something that often gets skipped year after year, which is why it makes a perfect new year’s resolution.
Evaluate the quality of deliverables. If you’re having defects or delays regularly, commit to resolving them or switching suppliers.
Make sure that you shop around vendor pricing. This is a regular way to find some easy cost savings to increase profitability.
Focus on Personal Relationships
We saved the most important for last. As a small business owner, we can sometimes lose sight of what is most important to us. The success of your small business could bring your personal relationships financial benefit, but that pales in comparison to time spent with loved ones. Commit to working on your work / life balance this year!
7. Don’t Skimp Out Now – Double Down on Marketing
“I will commit to investing and/or revolutionizing the marketing of my small business this year!”
This one is closely related to the first resolution above. Largely because in a boom year, spending on marketing is far easier to justify. Plus, it is the common tendency for us to cut back on marketing when we think things might be slowing down.
There are two distinct ways to accomplish this new year’s resolution:
1. Double Down on Marketing Spend
This would apply more to businesses that are more recession-proof, but not exclusively. The fact of the matter is that your marketing is what brings customers to your business. Even businesses like ours that relies heavily on referrals from existing clients still needs to be searching for the next client or customer.
When your competitors pull back their marketing for the same reasons you wanted to, you’ll now be poised to reach the potential customers they are giving up on finding.
2. Marketing Renaissance:
Alternatively (or preferably in conjunction), you can reserve the traditional marketing budget within outreach, but instead of pocketing it, you should spend it on your brand.
Invest in things like redesigning your logo and website. Increase the quality of your overall marketing so that even when you turn the spigot back on spending, the effectiveness of your marketing efforts is increased.
8. Get Business Intel Straight from the Horse’s Mouth
“This year I will make a concerted effort to determine how my business is viewed by existing and potential customers!”
The cumulative concept of your brand is how everyone outside of your business views you. The key to that statement is that how you view your brand can sometimes diverge from how everyone else, both inside and out, views your business.
It is not uncommon for a small business ownership to think they are a unicorn whereas everyone else thinks it’s a gas station burrito.
This small business new year’s resolution commits you to determining how everyone views your brand and then making changes based on what you learn. The answer to how you'll follow through on your resolution: Implement Voice of the Customer Surveys
At the end of any transaction (or within reason for high-volume repeat customers) you should be asking the customer about their experience. We prefer the Net Promoter Score method, but you can create any survey you feel meets your needs. While the positive feedback is great (and we will touch on this next), the primary goal is to determine negative trends.
Were you late more often than you expected to appointments, or was your quality of service not meeting expectations? Survey your actual customers to find out!
9. Reach Out and Get Those Coveted Shining Stars
“I will make a concerted effort to get more positive reviews for my business this year!”
Acquiring reviews has several obvious benefits. However, your primary motivations should be to increase your SEO and increase the likelihood of a positive buying decision by potential customers.
But first! This item ties in well with the previous one regarding customer surveys. This is where you can leverage those positive vibes from customers to your benefit! As part of your survey policy, make sure to include a function of asking customers who write positive comments to post them as a Google review.
In terms of your SEO, Google doesn’t outright say anything about the relationship between reviews and ranking. But it has been our experience with a multitude of clients that those who have many positive reviews tend to rank higher. To be fair to Google, this could be a correlation-causation issue and simply be a factor of people searching for the best businesses.
More importantly, improving your review count and quality can lean a potential customer your way and away from your competitor. If presented a choice between the competitor (who happens to be as good as you in this example) with no reviews and you with 50 5-Star reviews, who do you think they would decide to buy from?
10. Stop Obsessing So Much and Take Moments for Yourself
“This year I will change my routine to include moments dedicated just to me, my happiness, and my relaxation!”
There is a solid reason that we put so much emphasis on stress relief with our clients. Your ability to literally function as a business leader is directly tied to your emotional and cognitive state of mind. Browse our site here and just about every theme has some element about relaxing: the calming nature views, the multiple blogs about relaxing, etc. etc.
We put so much effort into improving client’s ability to take care of themselves because we know first-hand how a small business can take over your life. We often use the cliché of how a small business is not unlike a baby: It takes massive amounts of work, but it also contains pieces of your heart and soul.
This year, you are going to commit to taking some more time just for yourself. Plan some vacations throughout the year right now and make them mandatory. Block off an hour of time on your calendar every day or week just to go for a walk or some other personal time activity.
The benefits should be obvious, but if you want a more technical business case for doing so: When you are in a clearer headspace, you can make quicker, more intelligent business decisions. It varies by business of course, but it wouldn’t surprise us if you were to accomplish more in 35 hours than you could in 60 if you just spend some time on yourself.
Spend some time with those you care about. Almost guaranteed you will feel a reduction of stress, but also that’s time you can never recuperate. Work an hour less every week this year and take that time to throw a ball with your son or take your significant other out to dinner. Trust us, it’ll fill your soul and your business will benefit!
Now for the Hard Part – Following Through on Your Small Business New Year’s Resolutions
Just like ‘working out more,’ these resolutions will be just as hard to keep up with. Habits are incredibly hard to break.
With that in mind, our last bit of advice for setting these resolutions is to find an “accountabilibuddy”—someone to hold you accountable to them.
Form a support structure of one kind or another. One example might be to join up with several other small businesses and make a pact to meet once a month and hold each other accountable.
As business coaches, one of the primary functions we take with clients is that of an accountability referee. We don’t simply toss some advice your way and think nothing more of it. We are called coaches for a reason. Just like any other coach, we are here to stay on top of you, guiding you to growth through tasks and accountability.
And of course, we would love to be your rock for 2023! Out of the Box Advisors helps small business owners take their passion to the next level of success through our award-winning Business Coaching! Schedule your Free Consultation Today!