10 Small Business New Year’s Resolutions You Should Plan To Keep In 2015

2015New Year’s resolutions seem a little silly don’t they? What is it about January 1st that’s magically going to make you eat more kale?

Nothing, that’s what. Hence why most New Year’s resolutions are completely abandoned by the time we get to St. Patrick’s Day. And while writing down your goals is proven to help, if the goals don’t have more of a payoff than being able to say, “See? I’m actually eating more Kale!” then you won’t have much motivation to get them done.

But in your business, those resolutions can have a major payoff. And by major payoff, we mean cash. So it may be well worth your while to set some. Here are ten resolutions for 2015 that if you can keep should show some serious benefit to your bottom line.

1. Learn to delegate

If you’ve got a “If you want a job right, do it yourself” mentality, take this one to heart. The key in learning to delegate isn’t learning to give more work to other people. It’s training your employees so that you can leave work to them and trust it will be done correctly. Take the first few months to do this, then work on delegating out more tasks.

2. Communicate better

Unless your office manager is named James Van Praagh and your phones are manned by Miss Cleo, your employees aren’t psychic. Which might be why you think they can’t do the job you think is so simple. Make sure you’re communicating as much as humanly possible with your employees, which means not only spending more time in their same physical space, but asking for them input and then actually LISTENING to what they have to say. You’ll be surprised at how much better everyone feels.

3. Start a company blog

We told you already that creating more content is one of the top new trends for 2015. You’re going to need to be on top of that, which means resolving to start a blog, then keep on top of it. Update it regularly, respond to comments, and create content people want to read and might share. And if you don’t have time, outsource it. It’s not horribly expensive and the investment is worth it, if only in saved time.

4. Discover a new segment of customers

Has your restaurant been banking on sporting events and holidays to make its money? Is your hair salon big with women but haven’t seen a male customer over the age of 8? Find ways to reach out to new market segments without losing your best customer base. Ideas like special dinners, promotions aimed at non-traditional audiences and looking at other ways what you do can appeal to people will help.

5. Learn and maximize SEO

That’s “search engine optimization,” if you’re not cool with the tech-speak. See these search engines have algorithms that determine who tops their search results, and there are plenty of people out there who are happy to teach you about it for a price. Do it. It’s worth the investment and once you come to realize how to get your content SEO maximized, you’ll really start seeing the payoff of that blog.

6. Get on top of your taxes

This sounds about as exciting a new year’s resolution as “buy new socks.” Then again, at least then you’d get socks. Here you just get to fill out incredibly complicated paperwork. But, you do avoid the stress of doing it up against a federally-mandated deadline, which makes all that paperwork seem even MORE complicated. So while taxes are never fun, having them done early certainly is.

7. Forge and improve customer relationships

Much like your mother, we’re completely dumbfounded at how anyone could not like you. But it happens, so this year strive to make customer service even better that it has been. And for your existing customers, make sure they feel appreciated by giving them special deals, unannounced discounts and the occasional freebie. And if you have time, hand-written “thank you for being a loyal customer” notes go a surprisingly long way.

8. Lead by example

Some small business owners think this means work 20 hour days and expect your employees to follow suit. And they will, right up to the time they find a job that doesn’t require working 20 hour days. Just make a conscious effort to exude the values, creativity and commitment to service that you expect from them, and they will understand that is how the organization is expected to behave.

9. Make new partnerships

Much like you find new customers, find other businesses with whom you can partner. Conferences are a great place to do this, but even going around the neighborhood and meeting other small business owners to brainstorm about how to partner for upcoming holidays is good. Or guest blogging on each other’s’ blogs. It doubles your exposure and gets you someone else’s insight to grow your online audience.

10. Take time for yourself

It’s simple see, just get yourself one of those magic Harry Potter wands, go outside on a sunny day, chant “Dias Elonogarus,” and BAM! You’ve got a 28-hour day. Or, if you don’t possess magical powers, figure out what things you don’t really need to be wasting your time on – like calling on customers who are a low-percentage shot or anything without a good potential for upside – and cut it from your schedule. Then replace it with something you actually enjoy, like not eating kale.

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Matt Meltzer

Matt Meltzer is a professor of business communication at the University of Miami. He is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps and holds a bachelors degree in business administration from UM, as well as a Masters of Mass Communication from the University of Florida.