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New Year’s Resolutions for Small Businesses

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The New Year brings new plans, new energy and a fresh take on our old ideas for individuals and for small businesses. NerdWallet surveyed small business owners to bring you their New Year’s resolutions and how exactly they plan to accomplish these lofty goals.  The secret to success for these entrepreneurs is constantly striving for improvement.  For inspiration for your business’s own goal setting, look no further than these 19 New Year’s resolutions from successful small business owners.

Table of Contents

1. Employees: attract, train and retain talent
2. Improve office culture: invest in and listen to your employees
3. Increase profits and efficiency
4. Use more technology
5. Reflect: evaluate what works and what your customers want
6. Give back

Employees: attract, train and retain talent

1. Hire more employees

Kristin Beauchamp of Sarge’s List, a veteran-owned portal for free military classifieds and lifestyle information

“Our New Years resolution is to continue to expand our hiring in the coming months. In addition to our company’s corporate hiring goals, we have partnered with Simply Hired and CareerBuilder/EmployVets to feed job listings to our site.  We are also actively committing work to fight the misconceptions that are attached to hiring veterans and military spouses.”

Billy Morrissey of Merchant Solutions Group, a company that provides alternative financing options to businesses

“2012 was a year of significant growth for our company. Our team has been successful in finding truly talented and dedicated employees, and I resolve to bring even more of that talent into our office in 2013.

2. Develop existing employees

Mike Oeth of OnSIP, an Internet-based communication service provider for small businesses

“In the new year, we pledge to do more employee development. In the beginning of 2012, we had grand plans for employee management training and further employees development. Unfortunately, very little of that took place. We understand that not fostering employee development can lead to attrition. We need to do a better job in that department come the new year.”

3. Show appreciation for your employees

Kelsey Meyer of Digital Talent Agents, a full-service professional branding firm

“I recently wrote personalized Thanksgiving cards for each of our 24 employees telling them why I am thankful that they work with us. I didn’t think much of it but the response was amazing. It made me realize that small things like this can really make a difference in employee happiness.

My New Year’s resolution as a startup-cofounder is to show appreciation to each of our employees more frequently. I will measure this by planning out at the beginning of each month something I can do for each person. It will range between simply sending a nice email thanking them for working hard to taking someone out to lunch to congratulate on a work accomplishment, so praising them in front of the team. I’ve seen that showing appreciation raises employee morale, work ethic, and even performance because they have more confidence. I hope that this resolution to be more purposeful in these acts will help our team continue to grow!”

4. Offer more trainings for employees

Steve Brewer of CovalentWorks, a web-based service for exchanging Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) business documents

“One of our most important resolutions for 2013 is to implement more cross training of our employees. During 2012, we experienced increased demand for faster service. Consequently, we implemented “One and Done” which is our way of saying that we do our best to quickly and completely answer a client’s question on the first call or email. Cross training to support “One and Done” is a strategic initiative because we want to continually develop the skill sets of our employees and ensure that our clients receive fast and high-quality service whenever they need it. Having employees fulfill multiple roles makes their jobs more interesting and challenging in a very positive way.”

Improve office culture: invest in and listen to your employees

5. Build up the company culture

Nicole Buergers of TopSpot, an internet marketing company

“We will be building our internal company culture and we’ll be showcasing what an awesome place this is to work.  We want to continue to attract and retain the best talent.”

6. Invest in your employees

Donna Gary of ClientTickler, an app for small businesses that manages their tasks and relationships with their clients

“Speak with your employees about how you can help them be more efficient, how can we all step up our game and be an A+ business. Send your employees to seminars and continued education to improve their job skills and help them grow professionally. Remember that if you invest in them, they will invest in you!”

7. Use an employee-selected benefits plan

Lena Requist of ONTRAPORT, the provider of the comprehensive business and marketing automation platform OfficeAutopilot

“Each year, our staffing demographic changes based on the people we hire and where they are in their lives. At ONTRAPORT, we want to provide benefits that our employees’ value and will take advantage of, so each year we issue a survey to all of our staff asking them to rate with benefits they would like to see on next year’s plan. The survey includes more vacation days, retirement plans, increased coverage on health insurance, fitness classes, training sessions, parties, etc. Based on this year’s survey, we’ll be adjusting our efforts in 2013 to offer paid time to support volunteer efforts, include a salad bar option in our daily lunch plan, and offer a retirement or savings plan.”

Increase profits and efficiency

8. Increase revenue

Andrew Anderson of Easy Anderson, a consulting group

“Our new years resolution again will be to get rid of the bottom 80% of  our clients in the first 30 days of the year, and concentrate on the top 20%. The Pareto Principle is indeed correct. By getting rid of the bottom 80% and taking the time you spend on them and spending it on the 20%, you drastically increase profitability and cut expenses.”

Joel Gross of Coalition Technologies, a Los Angeles and Seattle-based web design and marketing firm

“I would like to increase revenue in 2013 by 50%. We will accomplish this by retooling our sales process to make it more client focused, and by refining our best practices for our industry, which is constantly changing. I have also added to my management team, which will meet regularly and give updates and projections. I have also dedicated significantly more time to the hiring process so that we hire qualified, driven individuals that will aid in the success and expansion of the company.”

9. Keep better records

John Singh of J2 Communications, a firm specializing in publicity, media relations and communications programs

“I am going to resolve to keep an accurate log of mileage on my car by carrying a small notebook with me and recording each business trip.  Every year, I get chastised by my tax adviser for not keeping better records.  As a sole proprietor/consultant, I drive a lot for work but after four years, am still learning that it is incumbent upon me to keep accurate records.”

10. Cut costs—only buy what you need

Shannon Cherry, a creative relationship marketing expert

“Only purchase items I know I need at the time I need them. Any time I see an offer via email, I am using a program to file it away for a week. If during that week, I can see all the options for the plug-in during the week by the time the email pops back up as a reminder, I will buy. Otherwise, I will delete.”

11. Keep up on your paperwork and billing

Jennifer Maguire Coughlin, PR expert

“In my public relations work, I’m often juggling several projects at once – including client and media deadlines. Billing tends to fall behind. My resolution is to streamline my client billing process. I’ll do this by dedicating and designating a half-day each month to uninterrupted client billing, no matter what!”

Use more technology

12. Expand your online presence

Kristen Elmer of Silk and Cyanide, a line of womenswear

“Our number one Business New Year’s Resolution is to substantially grow our e -commerce store and no longer offer wholesale to small women’s boutiques. We are currently listed on Amazon and eBay, and are going to work with ad placements on Amazon and Google to increase our traffic. Being located in NYC allows me to work closely with stylists and bloggers that’ll increase our exposure to our customer base. Between the two, we’re hoping for greater customer reach and sales.”

13. Expand the website to include online resources for customers

Thomas Oriol, CEO of SalesClic, an online sales analysis application

“In 2013, we will create more online resources for customers (how-to blog articles, inventory) and optimize the language for search engines.  We will also create and manage a proper sales process.”

14. Develop a mobile app

Grant Hosford of DinnerDate, a dating service

“For the first half of 2013, DinnerDate will be focused on expanding to new cities across the nation based on what we learned during our extensive beta tests in San Diego and Orlando. The second half of 2103 will be focused on developing and launching our mobile capabilities which we believe is critical to full national expansion.”

15. Use social media

Andrea Correale, owner of Elegant Affairs, a catering company

“In today’s day and age, it is most important to have an organized social networking development leader. A good New Year’s resolution for a small business owner is to invest some time in finding someone who knows how to use the internet to the small businesses advantage to create a bigger audience, gain business and create a healthy social media image.”

Reflect: evaluate what works and what your customers want

16. Reflect and learn from the previous year

Deborah Sweeney of MyCorporation, a document filing service

“To succeed in 2013, you need to be a bit introspective – to look back at 2012 and evaluate what worked and what did not. In the New Year, businesses have an opportunity to capitalize on that which was the most successful in the prior year. The beginning of the year is a great time to reflect on which marketing strategies were most successful (and which were not), which capital investments yielded the highest ROI (and which did not), and which strategies were best received by customers.”

17. Listen to customer feedback

From Tomer Dvir, CEO of Soluto, a creator of PC optimization software

“In 2013 I want to spend more of my own time directly talking to our business customers and hearing first-hand feedback.”

18. Get out of your comfort zone

Amber Hawkins of Your Computer Needs of Toledo, a computer training service

“My resolution is to move more outside of my comfort zone. Risk is always involved when it comes to growing a business. That means that if it means going into a market I don’t want to go but the profit potential is there, then that will have to be done.”

Give back

19. Support charitable organizations through your business

Adrena Martin of CreationZ from a Dove, a handmade jewelry store

“I resolve to bring more awareness to the Women’s Empowerment Organization, which is an organization that helps homeless women get back on their feet. Even before starting my business, I always knew that I wanted to help people. Once it was started, I begin to look for organizations to work with for my business. I really felt like this would be a good organization to donate some of my products because these are women who are coming from nothing to something. My jewelry could be that extra boost of self-esteem to keep them moving forward. I would like for other people to know about this wonderful organization and once I have the funds to do so, I would like to promote and give back to them a lot more.”

Small store image from Shutterstock