When you think of new year’s resolutions, you most likely think about your own list of self-improvement goals. Other than personal resolutions, you can use the same goal-setting strategy for your business and career. By setting resolutions for your company, or for your professional growth, you can create a positive path for the new year. It can also provide you a method for breaking old habits and creating forward movement that leads to growth.

We created a list of new year’s resolutions designed to help business owners and professionals make 2021 their best year yet. While your own list may be different, these following ideas can help you determine what areas you want to work on and even how to be successful in making your resolutions stick this time around.

General business resolutions

1. Embrace delegation
How good are you at letting others help manage tasks?  It can be tempting to do everything yourself, but delegation can make your life easier. Learn how to delegate tasks that can be done by others and do it more often. This requires you to trust your co-workers and staff, but when you use it effectively it gives you more free time. This allows you to focus on high-level work, planning and strategy. It can also help you create a better work-life balance

In practice:
Letting go of tasks on your to-do list can be difficult, but there are ways to make it easier. Start by assigning your tasks a level that corresponds to the amount of skill, knowledge and time needed to complete it. Next, consider your team’s abilities and bandwidth to determine who can help with tasks at select levels. For instance, someone that has limited time but is highly skilled might be able to help with mid-level tasks. Someone that is more junior can help with lower-level tasks. 

You can also set reminders in your calendar to check in on the progress of each task so that you can stay informed and catch issues early on, but still get the work off your daily to-do list.

2. Plan your time, but stay flexible
You often see people go two ways with planning, either they plan every day down to the minute or they skip planning and react to what comes in their inbox. This year try striking a balance between planning your time and being flexible. This will look different for everyone, but you might consider laying out your week’s goals and simply focus each day on taking steps that help you meet them.

In practice:
First, take your larger goals and break them down into weekly goals that must be achieved. Next, make daily to-do lists aimed at moving you closer to reaching each weekly goal. These become your daily action items. If something doesn’t get completed, add it to the next day’s list as a priority. Just remember, it’s easy to get lost and distracted when you’re working on large goals, so help yourself stay on track by putting everything down on paper.

3. Take a look at your processes
Lots of people get frustrated by office processes that just aren’t working right. Surprisingly, it can be difficult to recognize the signs of failed processes unless you step back from the day to day and look at the bigger picture. For instance, are projects always coming in late? Are you always right up against deadlines, like tax filings or finalizing payroll? These are signs of broken processes.  This year, no matter what it is for your organization, resolve to review and revisit your internal processes.

In practice:

Create a task force of key people that understand the processes and problems you face. Meet to determine which processes are a priority and to identify team members that can help you revise and implement improved processes. These team members become the change team for each process. It’ll be their job to look at the process, find strengths and weaknesses and propose solutions for improving. Depending on the size of your company, you might need to get everyone on board to successfully implement changes. This article offers advice on how you can introduce changes into any organization.

4. Streamline everything you can
Are there better ways to handle some of your cumbersome, time consuming tasks? Could there be software solutions that help your team do more, with less stress and time? Many small businesses become weighed down in manual work and admin tasks, too busy to do the work it takes to grow. This is especially true in smaller companies where a small office team is trying to manage a larger workforce. This year, look for ways to streamline tasks, reduce manual procedures and give your team more time to focus on work that helps you grow.

In practice: 
Chances are high that your team already has ideas on ways you can reduce manual tasks. They also probably have procedural changes in mind based on their daily experiences. Start by asking everyone for their ideas on areas you can improve. Make a list of suggestions and prioritize them by things that are easier to implement to those that will take more time. This can service as your action plan for improvement. If you need to explore software solutions for some of the suggestions, you’ll want to involve key people such as your IT support manager, department managers and anyone involved in making financial decisions.

5. Make learning a priority
The world is rapidly changing, and you have to be prepared to change with it. It doesn’t matter if you run a business, or work in a niche area of a large organization, you have to stay ahead of your industry. This requires an ongoing commitment to continued education but think bigger than you your area of business. Make this the year you expand your knowledge to new areas that are not directly related to your daily work. This can give you a more well-rounded outlook and may even open up new opportunities. If you’re in payroll, you could dive into the world of project management. If you’re a manager, maybe you can learn more about investments.

In practice:
There are many free resources for education, including personal and professional development. These are an easily accessible source of ongoing education for your team. A few places to check out include Coursera, FutureLearn and edX. Additionally, your local community college, chamber of commerce and the Small Business Association (SBA) may have additional resources.

6. Improve and enhance your company culture
It doesn’t matter if you work from home, from the office or somewhere in between, your work environment matters. Building a positive company culture will not only improve your overall working environment, it can improve productivity as well. This makes it worthwhile to make company culture a part of your 2021 business plans. You can do this in many ways, from looking for ways to incorporate your staff’s feedback, to arranging.

In practice:
To get started, create an internal survey to gauge everyone’s opinions and feelings on your culture. Ask people what they love, what they don’t love and their ideas for improving things. Create an email inbox for people to anonymously send their thoughts and suggestions as well.
This article has helpful tips on improving your company culture if you’re looking for ideas and guidance.

7. Focus on becoming a better communicator
With all the emails, text, social posts and direct messages people send, you’d think that everyone would be a master of communication. In reality though, these types of communications lend themselves to quick responses, not thoughtful conversations. These are also one-sided formats, giving people the ability to quickly share their thoughts without requiring listening or interaction. Fortunately, communication is a skill that you can improve with a little self-awareness and diligence

In practice:
To improve your ability to communicate, consider slowing down when it comes to responses. Give yourself time to create a reply that is clear and concise. Check your tone and use the mood of the original communication as your guide. Be extra aware that people reading your words don’t have the benefit of hearing your tone or reading your body language. This can make you seem impatient or rude if you’re not careful. Make it your goal to read books, blogs or even consider a communication course.

The material presented here is educational in nature and is not intended to be, nor should be relied upon, as legal or financial advice. Please consult with an attorney or financial professional for advice.