Ah, the paradox of time! As many craft their New Year’s resolution checklist for small businesses, it becomes evident how peculiar our perception of time truly is.
We often find ourselves ensnared within the vibrant embrace of festive celebrations, lights flickering, and the hum of holiday melodies. This makes it seemingly impossible to cast our thoughts towards the impending New Year.
It’s as if the present’s burstiness overshadows the future’s anticipations. Yet, paradoxically, amidst this very whirlwind of festivity, the crisp dawn of January 1 beckons, just a breath away.
This transitional juncture, tinged with the perplexity of endings and beginnings, offers a pristine moment, not just for personal introspection, but a deeper contemplation on the avenues and strategies to enhance and nurture your business ventures in 2024.
As the saying goes, “In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you.” And in that stillness, lies the potential for growth.
Small Business Deals
Wearing the dual hats of small business owner and solopreneur, I’ve journeyed through the maze of entrepreneurship, with its twists, turns, and hidden pitfalls. The struggle is real – how does one even carve out time to think about business expansion?
Some days, our minds and hands are tied, engrossed in the present demands, be it client requests or the never-ending flurry of emails.
Those grand aspirations, those visions of contributing profound thought leadership articles, of courting the dream client, become obscured, like stars lost in the city’s glare.
It’s a constant juggling act, a delicate balance where even a moment’s distraction can cause the entire structure to wobble. It’s in this chaos that I’ve discovered a valuable trick, learned through trial and error, successes and failures.
Managing the incessant “background noise” of day-to-day operations isn’t just about perseverance; it’s about smart strategy.
Leveraging free or low-cost apps and services has been a game-changer, a method to filter the din and focus on what truly matters.
This approach doesn’t just bring clarity; it breeds efficiency, enabling you to steer your ship through the storm with greater control, navigating towards your goals with precision and intent.
This year, resolve to minimize stress and make your life that much easier. Get started with this handy New Year’s Resolutions checklist for small businesses:
Resolution #1: Do More with Social Media
Have a Facebook account but rarely use it? Wish you had time to actually respond to customer tweets or finally get your Instagram up and running?
Take the pain out of social media management with Hootsuite Pro. Designed specifically for small and medium-sized businesses, Hootsuite Pro is packed with intuitive features that make it simple to manage, engage and measure your social media activity without losing a huge chunk of your day to the Twittersphere.
- Problem: Limited social media engagement despite having accounts.
- Solution: Hootsuite Pro – A platform for easy management and effective social media engagement tailored for small and medium businesses.
Your to-do: Getting active on multiple social media channels at once can be overwhelming. Start by focusing your attention on one network. Sign up for Hootsuite’s free, 30-day trial.
Use the service to schedule your posts in advance and hone in on relevant conversations about your brand.
Analyze campaign performance: which posts resulted in the most follower engagement? How can you use this feedback to strengthen your social media activity?
- Focus on one social media network initially.
- Sign up for Hootsuite’s free, 30-day trial.
- Schedule posts and monitor brand-related discussions.
- Review and adapt based on the engagement metrics.
Resolution #2: Stop Wasting Time and Money on Ad Hoc Accounting
This is a big one, folks. Do you find yourself scrambling for receipts come tax time? Are you still manually tracking expenses in a Google doc or Excel chart?
Do you promise every year to finally get a better system in place but never seem to get around to hiring an accountant?
Put an end to the bookkeeping madness with affordable (or free!) accounting solutions. Both Wave and Freshbooks are simple and intuitive to use with thousands of satisfied small business customers.
- Problem: Inefficient and outdated accounting methods.
- Solution: Use modern accounting software like Wave and Freshbooks.
Your to-do: Get started with either Wave or Freshbooks (I’m a fan of both). These cloud-based accounting solutions are built specifically to make life easier for small business owners, helping us stay organized and get paid.
Track time, log expenses, send automatic client invoices, and more. Plus, both Wave and Freshbooks offer credit card processing for even faster payment.
- Pick Wave or Freshbooks to handle your accounting.
- Use the software for tasks like tracking time, logging expenses, and auto-invoicing clients.
- Integrate credit card processing for swift payments.
Resolution #3: Get a Leg Up on the Competition with Continuing Education
Continuing education is a must for small business owners, but unless there’s a certification renewal required for our jobs, most of us put these classes off on the back burner.
The result: from accounting to marketing, we keep doing things the same way we always have– oftentimes missing out on better, easier solutions.
From public speaking to grant writing, make this the year you conquer a professional fear, learn a new skill, and grow your professional network while doing so.
- Problem: Neglecting the value of ongoing education.
- Solution: Engage in continued education to enhance skills.
Your to-do: What skill would you most like to improve? What is your weakest spot as a small business owner? Maybe you’d like to brush up on your accounting basics, take an industry mastery class, or finally master the basics of online marketing.
Start by committing to learn one new skill. Sign up for a class at a local community college or enroll in an online training course. Challenge friends or colleagues to expand their skillset by taking the class with you. It’s great to have an accountability partner!
- Identify a skill or area you wish to develop or strengthen.
- Enroll in a local class or an online course.
- Collaborate with peers or colleagues for mutual accountability in learning.
Resolution #4: Put an End to Project Collaboration Woes
When your small business team of freelancers and telecommuters is spread out over several time zones (and not several cubicles), minor project miscommunications can snowball into major problems, throwing the entire team off track.
This year, resolve to get everyone on the same page from day one with an easy-to-use project collaboration platform. Two of my personal favorites are Wrike and Trello, both of which make the on-boarding process a piece of cake.
- Problem: Challenges in coordinating with a dispersed team.
- Solution: Project collaboration platforms like Wrike and Trello.
Your to-do: Get the whole team set up from the beginning of January to use your preferred project management app. Set priorities and monitor your team’s progress.
Review and approve completed tasks and assign new ones. Use the real-time workspace for document sharing and dynamic collaboration.
Stay on track with a birds-eye-view of your team’s workload and deadlines, so you know weeks out (rather than hours out) if a delay will affect an on-time and on-budget project completion.
Happier clients and happier team members make for a much more enjoyable work environment.
- Onboard your team to a chosen project management tool at the start of 2024.
- Assign tasks, monitor progress, and facilitate document sharing.
- Utilize the platform’s overview features to foresee potential delays and ensure project timelines are met.
To help you monitor your progress throughout 2024 and ensure you’re staying on track with your resolutions, here’s a handy checklist-style table. Feel free to print and tick off each implementation as you tackle them:
|Expand Social Media Presence
|Modernize Accounting Methods
|Adopt Modern Software
|Prioritize Continued Learning
|Enroll in Online Courses
|Streamline Project Collaboration
|Use Project Management Tool
|Enhance Email Marketing Efforts
|Adopt Marketing Tools
Remember, every step forward is progress. Best of luck with your business aspirations in 2024!
In 2024, my business resolution is to improve my bookkeeping process, put more focus on email marketing, and help a new charity/nonprofit. What are your professional resolutions for 2024? I invite you to share them in the comments section below.
New Year’s Goals Photo via Shutterstock
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