Can you believe that 2011 is less than a month away? For many of us, December is a time of goal-setting, resolution writing and figuring out how to make next year better than the last. This December, I encourage you to examine your small business habits. This piece is often overlooked as we enter a new year. We’ll set sales goals, marketing goals and even personal weight loss goals, but we won’t take a hard look at the business habits we need to kick before the new year rolls around. I encourage you to do that right now.
Here’s an exercise. Grab a piece of paper and a pen. On the left, make a column called “Keep.” This is where we’ll write down the habits we want to carry forward into 2011. Is there something that worked extremely well for your business? Write it there. Remember that we’re writing about behaviors, not specific marketing or distribution tactics. On the right, title the column “Leave Behind.” Every habit that held back our business in 2010 goes there. I’ve included some examples from my own list to get you started.
– Delegation and letting go. In 2010, I finally came to the realization that I am not Superwoman. I don’t even own a pair of red knee boots. Rather than believing I could handle every aspect of my business solo, I reached out to subcontractors, assistants and interns. It was one of the best decisions I made. Now, my time is freed up to focus on the aspects of the business I want to grow: coaching and empowering small business owners to take control of their marketing. If you find yourself overloaded with parts of your business, make 2011 the year you reach out for help.
– Networking (online and offline). I’ve met so many wonderful people in 2010. Some came through an in-person networking event, others came from personal referrals and still others came via my social media profiles. I’ll be partnering with these new friends on workshops, eBooks, and webinars in 2011, and it all started with one of us saying, “Hello.” If you’ve been stuck behind your computer screen in 2010, I encourage you to throw on some business casual attire and head outside in 2011. On the other hand, if you’re a social butterfly in person, consider being just as social online by setting up a Facebook profile or similar account.
– Taking action. The one thing I did this year that had the most results was take action. I’m a planner by nature and can craft strategies all day. However, I realize that strategy alone won’t advance a business. We have to understand that our final execution is the only thing our customers will see. All the planning in the world won’t help if you never release the book, launch the web site or distribute the product. Make 2011 your year of action.
If you find yourself doing any of these things, don’t bring them into 2011. They are not serving your or your business.
– Self-doubt and perfectionism. You don’t have to be perfect to start a business or to be successful. Make 2011 the year you build your confidence and let go of trying to be perfect.
– Workaholism. Taking action on your business is important, but you won’t be around to enjoy it if you run your body into the ground. Leave behind the urge to work 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week.
– Disorganization. With all the electronic gadgets available, there is no longer an excuse to be disorganized. If you are still a fan of paper and a pen, day planners are also still on the market. Make time to keep your business organized, or reach out to someone who specializes in keeping businesses on track.
Now that your list has been created, post it up somewhere you will see it everyday: next to your vision board, in your office, or on the refrigerator. It will serve as a daily reminder of what you need to be working on for 2011 and what you need to leave in 2010. I’d love to hear what you put on your “Keep / Leave Behind” list. Please share your thoughts in the comments.
I’d like to give a special thanks to the It’s Not Enough to Dream Women’s Small Business Circle for inspiring this article.