A new year’s resolution isn’t only helpful as a personal promise — the sentiment can and should extend to your small business. By making business-wide resolutions, small business owners, entrepreneurs, and managers can promote growth, increase the bottom line, and improve company morale.
Now it’s time to decide which small business new year’s resolutions to prioritize. Here are the most common new year’s resolutions for small business owners (or startups that are making their debut) that can help create your business’s most successful year yet. Consider this your to-do list for 2023.
1. Ensure Your Business Structure Is Right for Your Business
The type of structure you choose for your business is foundational — it holds up all of your operations, makes sure you’re operating legally, and may bring tax benefits. Many small business owners start off as a sole proprietor since it’s easy and quick to establish, but if you have been running your business for a while, it might be time to consider transitioning to an LLC, partnership, or corporation. Registering your business makes it easier to establish healthy relationships with vendors, gives you tax perks, and gives you better protection from personal liability. It also allows you to establish and build business credit scores.
If you’re not sure where to begin, you’re in luck: A business formation service guides you through the complicated registration process. Working with a formation service streamlines the confusing process of registering your business and makes sure it’s done correctly.
2. Get Better Organized
Being organized in your business allows you to tackle new opportunities easily. This includes financial organization, physical organization for your inventory or documentation, and digital organization of files, photos, and marketing materials. Starting with one thing at a time can make the process less overwhelming — even taking a few minutes to delete old files is progress. It might help to make a list of the areas of your business you’d like to organize and include the steps for each improvement.
Also, update your business plan to make sure your business strategy reflects your goals for the coming year.
3. Try Outsourcing
Bringing on help is a fantastic way to let you as a small business owner focus on bigger picture tasks. Outsourcing can look like many different things for different businesses. But we recommend outsourcing your most difficult tasks — whether that’s bookkeeping, accounting, taxes, payroll, or all of the above. You can also hire administrative support or marketing support if those tasks are taking up too much of your time.
4. Use Better Technology to Run Your Business More Efficiently
Most small business owners don’t prefer to spend hours upon hours on the administrative tasks of running their business. Luckily, there are countless software programs created for small businesses that make running your own business a lot easier. You can use software to streamline and automate bookkeeping, accounting, invoicing, payroll, sales, and more. Some of these options are free, but the extra services you can get with paid plans may be worth adding a line to your business’s budget.
5. Invest in a Better Accounting System
A fantastic goal for this year is improving the process of managing your business’s accounting system. Your time is limited, and spreadsheets may not function well enough for you anymore. Use accounting software to improve your process by automating many of the steps involved. Accounting software can automatically pull in sales and expense information so you don’t have to enter it by hand, as well as run financial reports so you can track your business’s progress at the click of a button.
6. Get Your Payroll Processes in Order
Paying your employees on time and the right amount is necessary for keeping talented staff around to help your business thrive. Rather than entering numbers by hand, there are many payroll services to choose from that ensure accuracy and timeliness. Payroll software allows you to calculate taxes and benefits automatically, run online payroll quickly, and file your payroll taxes. Choosing the right payroll software for you using Nav is the fastest way to get your payroll in order for the coming year.
7. Try Tax Planning
If in past years, you hustled to get your business taxes together last minute, try something new this year. It’s time to improve your tax season by using tax software to make filing easier. Many tax software options will import your business costs and revenues automatically and allow you to store your tax documents and forms. Some options will also check for any missed deductions to make sure you get the most back on your taxes.
8. Create a Customer Journey Map
A customer journey map is a visualization of every point that your ideal customers interact with your brand. Before you can start marketing, you need to know exactly who you’re reaching, where, and how. It’s important to walk in your customers’ shoes to make sure you work out any kinks in your customer onboarding process.
9. Invest in Marketing and Advertising
Your best new customers are waiting to find you, so making your business easy to come across via a revamped marketing strategy is essential. You may focus next year’s marketing efforts on digital marketing, like social media marketing (Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram) and email marketing. Or you might want to run marketing campaigns using printed ads or physical mailers.
You could also work with a marketing agency if you don’t have time to run your own marketing campaigns, but it’s not essential for many small businesses.
10. Connect With Your Employees
Owning or running a business comes with a unique set of challenges and responsibilities, many of which are fundamentally different from those that your employees will encounter over the course of a year. And while the job titles and responsibilities may be different, connecting with your employees on some level is essential if you want to have a successful year.
Hold a semi-regular “all-aboard meeting,” host company activities, or simply be present to show your employees that they’re valued, that you recognize the effort they put in, and that you’re accessible and available to them if needed. Employees who recognize these values in their leaders are more likely to take pride in both their position and the company.
11. Become a Better Delegator
Learning to effectively delegate (and avoid micromanaging) is a challenging task for individuals in leadership positions. However, it’s also a sentiment that should be embraced. Not only does delegation free up time, energy, and mental space for other tasks, it also works to develop and hone the skills that your employees will need if you want your business to run smoothly.
12. Focus on Education and Development
Learning a relevant new skill will make you a more efficient leader, and the same is true for your employees. By focusing on education and growth throughout the year, you can improve operational efficiency, increase product/service quality, and foster an innovative and creative environment. Further, the opportunity to improve or develop new skill sets can translate to employees who are more confident and satisfied in their current position.
13. Understand and Improve Your Finances
Knowing your business’s finances might not be the most exciting part of running a business, but it is essential for meeting your goals. If you’re in the habit of scanning your business’s financial statements, you’ll be better prepared to pivot when your sales aren’t meeting your expectations or to focus on well-performing products before you order too little inventory. The beginning of the year is the perfect time to evaluate things like your credit score and spending. Doing so will empower you to make important and impactful decisions about future efforts, improving your year-over-year financial report.
14. Increase Your Business Credit Card Limit
The pandemic and the inflation that has followed it has been a big challenge for small businesses across the country. Business credit cards are a valuable tool to help business owners manage their expenses. And now that products will likely cost more than they did even last year, having a high credit limit is especially useful. Having more credit available doesn’t mean you have to max out your credit cards, but access to more credit can allow you to navigate challenges easier.
15. Consider Applying for a Grant
Business grants are like loans, except you don’t have to pay them back. (It’s not too good to be true.) Some business grants are created for specific types of businesses, like women- or Black-owned businesses, so the pool of qualifying applicants is smaller. Even still, grants are competitive and usually more difficult to get than small business loans or other funding.
16. Make Energy Conservation a Priority
There are a lot of costs associated with running a business, and though there are many ways to cut down on spend, one variable expense that often goes unaddressed is energy. By focusing on energy efficiency, business owners can cut unnecessary spending while creating a more conscious workplace. This is also something that can improve your brand perception over time.
Conservation can be as easy as working with employees to create an energy efficiency plan, or, if your budget allows, replacing outdated equipment or making structural changes that decrease usage.
17. Make Every Meeting Count
Love them or hate them, meetings are an essential part of any successful business. However, poorly run meetings (or too many meetings) can affect productivity. Look at existing meetings and determine their overall efficiency and effectiveness. You may find that some meetings are simply unnecessary, while others are necessary but should be more structured.
Depending on the size and structure of your business, you may not be involved (or even know about) every meeting, and so it’s important that this resolution trickles down to your management team.
18. Become a Better Communicator
Effective communication strategies are important for small business owners. Your ability to communicate directly impacts both internal and external relationships. Clients, vendors, and partners rely on your ability to communicate needs, wants, and expectations, and the same is true for relationships with your employees.
When implemented as a business-wide goal, improved communications will lead to stronger employee and interdepartmental relationships. As such, teamwork becomes more efficient, goals are achieved, and positive change takes place. In fact, each of the resolutions you make will become much easier to keep when communication is improved.
19. Redesign Your Website
Your online presence says a lot about your brand, and if you’re running the same website you created when you first started, it may be time to update it. Maybe you want to re-brand, start an e-commerce store, or prioritize search engine optimization (SEO) on your website. Upgrading your website can bring more (and better) customers to your business as well as increase sales. You can either update your website on your own or work with a web professional, depending on your time and budget limitations.
20. Conquer Burnout
It’s good to work hard, but everyone has limits. You and your team members need work-life balance to overcome and avoid burnout this year. This comes in the form of offering a good amount of paid time off and sick leave to all your employees as well as incentives. Offering gym membership discounts or mental health support can also help with burnout. But remember: prevention is better than cure. Work to create a work environment where employees don’t get burnt out in the first place.
21. Participate in Community Service
It’s a good practice to focus some energy outside of specific business goals in the coming year — like getting involved in local communities and giving back. You can start a food drive at the office, give employees a few hours every quarter to volunteer, or plan a larger volunteer event involving the entire company. Bringing employees out of their day-to-day routine can help them feel good about giving back and bring a larger sense of purpose to their work.
Start the new year off right by seeing it as an opportunity to make a fresh start. Take the time to review your company from a cultural, financial, and operational standpoint, and identify where you can make positive improvements. With those insights, you’ll be well equipped to make new year’s resolutions for small businesses that focus on the goals and values necessary to move you forward over the coming year.
This article was originally written on February 7, 2023.