Every year, I create a list of my small business New Year’s resolutions. I think of these as a way to focus priorities for the coming year. I invite you to join me as you and your small business face 2022.
Before I drew up this year’s list, I went over some of the lists I made in prior years. In particular, I looked back 20 years – to my intentions for 2002.
“The word for 2002 is unpredictable,” I wrote 20 years ago. If you’re old enough, you may remember that a mere three months before the U.S. had been attacked on 9/11, the U.S. economy was still reeling and a recession had set in. In fact, I named my list “Rhonda’s resolutions for an unsettled time.” Seems appropriate now, doesn’t it?
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Certainly the word “unpredictable” applies to 2022. We’re still deep in the midst of a world-shattering pandemic. We see inflation on the horizon. We’re not even sure if workers will come back into offices or customers into stores or restaurants.
Chins up, fellow small business owner. We entrepreneurs are optimistic – we got through the tough times of 2002, and we’ll get through these times, too.
Here’s a list of New Year’s resolutions for my and your small business – first the ones I’ve added this year – and then ones from 2002 which are still applicable today:
Support small businesses. That’s top of my list because it’s so important. All of us have to stick together as we face increasing competition from gargantuan online retailers or rapacious internet platforms that take ridiculously high percentages of sales from small restaurants or suppliers. Put your money where your heart is and support your local small business.
Do the most important thing first. This is one of my most important personal resolutions. Like most small business owners, I’m overwhelmed by all the different things I have to attend to in a day. So I resolve to identify my highest priority each day, and tend to that first thing.
Get even better at technology. If the past two years have taught us anything, it’s that every business depends on tech. E-commerce took a giant leap forward – you have to jump with it. And remote work is now the norm. You need to know – or hire people who know – how to best use technology.
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Remember the important people in your life. Do something nice for the people around you: Thank employees, referral sources and suppliers more often. Take your spouse, family member, or friend to a thank-you dinner. Spend a special weekend with your kids as “honored guests” to recognize the sacrifices they make for your work.
And the 2002 New Year’s resolutions that are still critical today?
Watch your cash. That’s was critical in 2002, and it has to be top of mind today. Nothing makes you more secure, more able to respond to changing conditions than money in the bank. Send out invoices promptly, be careful about expenses; cut back on nonessentials.
Stay in touch with customers. One of Rhonda’s Rules: “It’s cheaper to keep an existing customer than to find a new one.” Make sure you’re communicating directly with customers regularly. It’s easy to spend a huge amount of time on social media, but that may not be the best way to nurture relationships. Send out newsletters, drop key customers an email, make calls, take important customers to lunch.
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Cut down your energy use. In 2001, the cost of energy had skyrocketed. Back then, this suggestion was primarily offered as a means of saving money. Now, it’s to save our planet. In 20 years, we’ve seen more devastating effects of climate change – more hurricanes, wildfires, sea levels rising. Even small businesses must do their part to reduce energy consumption and waste.
Prepare for emergencies. Because of climate change, you’re more likely than ever to face a weather-related emergency. But COVID-19 showed that emergencies can come out of the blue. Prepare your business to be able to operate in most any emergency, by using cloud-based applications, backing up data, having disaster plans. And keep good financial records! You’ll need them if you ever need to seek government help.
Whatever resolutions you make for your own business in 2022, I wish you a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year!