It’s almost time for small business owners, freelancers, and startups to get excited for New Year’s Day. It’s the moment when everything seems shiny and fresh and perfect. A new year means tons of opportunities for your business to grow and change. It’s exciting, but it doesn’t usually last long. In 2017, challenge yourself to keep the momentum going all year with exciting business goals that you can really stick to. Here are 5 simple suggestions to get you started dreaming, then doing.
Stop having boring meetings
Don’t have them. Just don’t. If you don’t know why you’re there and what the meeting is going to accomplish from the moment you begin, then it’s a complete waste of time. By the end of your meeting, everyone should know what they need to do now and when it needs to be done. Being focused keeps things simple and quick so you can get going on projects that really matter.
If you’re a freelancer working all by yourself, this STILL applies to you. Maybe you’re not stuck in a room full of people sipping coffee and chewing the fat instead of getting things done, but you can have your own form of “boring meeting” whenever you set aside time to do something for your business that doesn’t really benefit it. If you’re having a boring meeting with yourself, there’s only one person who can change that (uh, YOU).
Become a philanthropist
Even small businesses can make a big difference when they choose to give. Many businesses inspire their customers with their commitment to do something good, no matter how small their effort may seem. Offering leftover baked goods to a homeless shelter, taking free photographs for military families with a parent about to deploy, or doing taxes at a deeply reduced rate for lower-income families are all ways that you can incorporate kindness into your day to day.
If you want to include others, find a way to make your business part of a larger community fundraiser to bring everyone together for a good cause — perhaps benefitting victims of human trafficking or an area that’s experienced a natural disaster.
Thrill your clients
Send out a short, simple survey to find out what they really want. What matters the most to them? What has caused them grief in the past when they’re trying to get the goods or services they need? Get someone to help you with the wording so that it comes across in a language they can understand. Then you can determine where the most valuable changes can happen for your brand, for your hiring process, even for the contracts you sign.
The last one may seem surprising, but when you both clearly communicate your expectations and you know what kind of resources you’ll to devote to each client, everyone can be on the same page and get what they need from the business relationship.
Plan to grow with the end in mind
It can be easy to toss out all kinds of phrases like “increase market share,” “be more innovative,” or “grow profits,” without really pondering specifics. The devil is in the details when it comes to actually accomplishing lofty goals, which is why you should make an annual road map with a clear picture of what your business will look like in the future.
You’ll want to take a hard look at your purpose and objectives and get it all down on one sheet of paper. This is such a valuable tool because when you’re considering what you need to do on a monthly, weekly, and even daily basis, you can ask yourself, “Is this going to help me get to where I want to go?” If it’s not, then it simply isn’t going to make the cut.
Develop something new
A new year means new products. If you’ve traditionally been a wedding photographer, maybe this is the year to try wedding videography, too. Maybe you’re a writer who creates web content and blog articles, but you’ve never really tried your hand at building a brand. You already have loyal customers who like your brand; why not offer them something new? This also allows you to reach customers who have needs you’ve left unmet in the past.
In addition, learning new skills keeps your business relevant. When you explore new options for what you’re capable of doing, you can help ensure that you won’t burn out. Variety really is the spice of life.