December is one of the hardest months to get through for a small business. Everything seems harder as the days continue to get shorter, deliveries are affected by snowfall and bad weather, and the Christmas week always means that you’re short staffed for part of the month. That’s why you need to think about gearing up the New Year now, rather than on December 31st.
If you’re in the goal setting business mindset, you can think of posting these aspirations for January (and beyond), while if you’re more of the traditional kind, then think of these ideas as small business resolutions to help you re-energize your client base in the New Year:
Get back in touch
It’s easy to let relationships slide in the run-up to the holiday season, especially with your longest standing partners. While you’ve probably sent out company Christmas cards, January should be the time to pick up the phone and check in with everyone. You’ve got an automatic conversation starter in “Happy New Year!” and you can use that time to re-establish communication and make a plan for your partnership for the new year.
Update your website
Think of the New Year as a time to clean up and update your website. There’s sure to be items and pages that have sat in dusty corners for longer than they should have. It’s also a good time to make sure that your offers pages are up to date, to add in some new customer testimonials and to give visitors a preview of what changes are coming in the new year.
- If your social media game is on point, and you have accounts across all big platforms, use the New Year to update your profiles, set new pictures and make a medium plan for the content that you’ll publish. You should also set a resolution for reaching out to your followers and likers in a more interactive way each week – think a poll, asking open questions or set up a picture competition. These active engagement activities will increase your fan base as well as serve to energize your existing clients.
- If you rarely use social media, set your small business resolution to set up accounts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. If it’s not in your wheelhouse, find the person in your company who is familiar with these platforms in their personal lives and have them work on these accounts or consider hiring a professional social media manager. Your social media presence should include directions to your stores and website, as well as posting news items, pictures and special offers to help you find new customers or to connect more deeply with existing clients.
Using the New Year as a motivator for increased client communication is a great way to build work motivation, as your staff will feel the buzz of new and exciting change around the building. However, the adrenaline will quickly wear off if you don’t attend to the needs of your staff. Part of your getting back to work after the holidays should include some time focusing on your people:
Everyone works better when they know what the plan of action is. As a small business leader, it’s your job to make sure that every employee has bought into your vision of where the company is going, and what their role is to make that vision become reality. Sending out emails often feels impersonal, so you should set a goal to meet face to face with your staff more frequently to share important updates and to get their feedback.
In the small business world, it’s easy to take on all the responsibility as a leader as it’s your baby and you know how you want everything to work. However, this practice disengages your team, as your more ambitious members will be disappointed that there is an opportunity for growth that never comes. Take some time over the holiday period to reflect on the strengths and potential of your staff and find areas where you could ask someone to step up and take something off your overcrowded plate or look into hiring a Virtual Office Assistant. This will allow you to concentrate on the more important goal of growing your business. Not only will your own work/life balance improve, but you’ll see an increase in their motivation as they take on the extra responsibility.
Nobody wants to be the hard taskmaster who has to crack the whip to get people to work. Instead, flip the paradigm and set up a rewards system for productivity. Give your employees an extra boost by allowing them to choose their goals and their rewards, such as paid time off or small office perks. Be sure to reflect with them as they meet this milestone, and to have reflection time as a whole team towards the end of January about how it feels to work in a highly productive setting.
Whatever your small business resolutions, the keyword is accountability. Just like setting a fuzzy goal to lose some weight or drink less in the New Year, all of these intentions will be for nothing if there’s no process in place to check in on them.
Set SMART goals
S = Specific
The goal has to name a particular behaviour or action (e.g. clearing out website content)
M = Measurable
The goal has to be written in terms that you can measure it (e.g. clearing out website content that is dated 2017 or earlier)
A = Achievable
The goal has to be something that is possible to be done (e.g. don’t set a goal of attracting 1000 new clients if you only procured 15 in the last calendar year)
R = Relevant
The goal has to relevance to your overall mission and vision (e.g. I will post to our social media pages weekly with new offers and deals)
T = Time specific
Above all, you need to attach a time scale to the goal (e.g. I will clear out the website content before the end of January).
With your resolutions set as SMART goals, you and your team will be ready to get back to work after the holidays and have a productive and successful 2019.