It’s only one week into 2017 and we’re already feeling overwhelmed. If you catch yourself slipping back into some of the bad habits that trapped you in 2016, don’t worry—it's definitely not too late to make New Year’s resolutions that will put you and your business on a path to success.
To save you from having to make your own list, we’ve put together a top 10 list of resolutions that we believe every entrepreneur needs to make this year. We’ve also included relevant apps and other resources that will help you get started.
In no particular order, here they are:
...You’re still there right? Ok, good. The word alone can terrify the most ambitious entrepreneurs. For a person who’s never hit the gym before, the thought of making a workout schedule can be intimidating. Even worse, starting a business can function as the perfect excuse to avoid working out.
Here’s some encouraging news, though: many of the most successful entrepreneurs and CEO’s, including Mark Zuckerberg, Tim Cook, Oprah and Mark Cuban, workout several times a week and have attributed their professional success to staying in shape. It’s no surprise then that exercise improves focus, productivity and perseverance — inside and outside the gym.
Tech savvy entrepreneurs may have written off pen and paper long ago, but it’s making a serious comeback with the rise of productivity journals. These journals are not your traditional diaries or moleskins — they’re specifically (and often beautifully) designed to help you focus on achieving your aspirations through strategic page layouts and questions that probe you to set goals and work towards them, one day at a time.
Take, for example, Stockroom’s own 10x Journal — made for entrepreneurs.
The popularity of productivity journals stems from research on the benefit of journaling, which shows it improves memory, comprehension and even physical health. The traditional use of pen and paper is also now known to hold advantages relative to digital notepads, since it eliminates distractions like underlined spelling errors. In other words, a journal can allow you to write unabashed about your wildest dreams.
Learn to Cook
Or, make an effort to prepare more meals yourself in 2017. An entrepreneur's precious time is usually reserved for working on their business, and leaves little time for meals. As we all know, any time allocated for meal preparation is often nixed in favor of quick and easy fast food.
The problem is that eating at home can save you serious money — money that can be invested back into your business if you’re bootstrapped for cash. On top of this, the health benefits of cooking at home instead of eating out are immeasurable. When you cook your own food, you can control your ingredients, and limit the ones that leave you feeling sick or lethargic. Even better, you can replace these mood-killers with proteins and nutrients that will help you be more productive.
Cookbook and website recommendations for finding easy, and efficient recipes in a pinch:
Find a Mentor
If you’ve already launched your business, make 2017 the year you find a mentor. When you have a mentor, you don’t have to go at it totally alone. Mentors are people who are more experienced than you are in one of the realms that is relevant to your business, and can serve a variety of beneficial purposes — from a sounding board for your ideas to a confidant when you need emotional support.
When trying to identify the perfect mentor, you’ll need to reflect and contemplate the area of your business where your skills are the most limited. This might be anything, from marketing to manufacturing or finance. Once you’ve figured out what it is you’d like to have a mentor for, use sites like Linkedin to reach out to people who have complementary experience. Searching google for startup accelerators or business mentorship programs in your city can also yield some great results.
Build a Partnership
If you’re looking to accelerate your business’ growth, “two brands are better than one” should be your mantra in 2017. Companies are joining forces on marketing campaigns more often in order to share their own network with like-minded brands, doubling their reach in a short period of time.
Because of social media and email marketing, working together is easier than it’s ever been. A common tactic is to create an email raffle competition with several participating brands. Customers can walk away with thousands of dollars in gift cards and each brand could quadruple their email list with the amount of entries.
An email giveaway created using ViralSweep.
To find partners to work with you can network within ecommerce Facebook groups like Grow & Sell or Ecommerce Entrepreneurs, or search Instagram for companies that target your audience by using similar hashtags.
Stop Comparing Yourself
This might be the toughest resolution to set for yourself, but if you accomplish this in 2017 it is psychologically proven that you can live a happier life. This is especially important for entrepreneurs, since they routinely need to monitor their competition.
However, there are steps you can take to keep this practice as strictly market research and not let it dig into your productive time or eat away at your self confidence. One strategy is to set boundaries for how much time you spend on social media sites like Instagram and Facebook: The most dangerous time-sucking black holes of comparison. Two apps, Moment (iOS) and Offtime (iOS, Android) monitor how much time you spend on your phone and allow you to set limits on distracting social media apps.
Seek Financial Guidance
With the availability of small business accounting software and online resources, it’s possible for any entrepreneur without a background in finance to manage their business’ money. However, there is a difference between managing your money passively and managing your money strategically. If you are are willing to spend a little bit in exchange for advice that can save you tons, I suggest setting up an annual meeting with a financial advisor to review your books.
During one meeting, a financial advisor can provide tax advice, delve into what is making you profitable, and highlight ways you can reclaim losses. Although it often comes at a premium, getting financial advice from a professional once a year could end up saving you from losing money and sleep in 2017.
Improve Your Work Space
Big companies spend hundreds of thousands to create fancy open-concept work spaces filled with healthy snacks, natural light and ergonomic workstations. Other than to impress prospective hires and inspire press coverage, designing these workspaces is also a productivity play.
The American Society of Interior Designers found that physical workplace design is one of the top three factors that affects an employee's performance and job satisfaction.
What does this all mean for small businesses or entrepreneurs without a Google budget? Well, you can take what large corporate offices are designing and apply the values to your own home-office or work space to capture some of that productivity magic. Start by focusing on improving these three key components:
Light Move your desk to a room with natural lighting or purchase SAD lamps.
Environment Introduce green space to your office with potted plants and line your walls with inspirational artwork.
Comfort Buy an ergonomic chair or adjust your chair to make sure you are positioned properly at your desk.
People often think of writing as laborious. This may be passed down from years of essays with due dates and grades in school, which transforms the craft into a burden rather than a pleasure.
However, as an entrepreneur, writing can be the perfect outlet for de-cluttering your mind. Writing forces you to try and clearly articulate your brand or business ideas for an audience, allowing you to take what’s inside your head and put it out in the world, creating room for new idea.
Writing is also a fundamental component of marketing. Even with the rise of image sharing and viral video, the majority of our communication still happens through text. This includes the story you tell about your brand, how you describe your products and most importantly, what you blog about. Focusing on becoming a better writer, and practicing your skills on your website can payoff in improved search engine results for your company, which can ultimately bring you more website traffic and increased sales.
For personal writing I suggest publishing on Medium or experiment with easy and anonymous writing on write.as. For business you can use your Shopify store pages, product descriptions and built in blogging platform.
Surprise and Delight Customers
Yes, doing all these things for yourself is important, but no list of resolutions would be complete without promising to do something special for others. And who is more valuable and deserving than your customers that support you? This year, make an effort to go above and beyond for your customers, or in marketing terms, “surprise and delight” them.
As a consumer, you’ve probably witnessed the art of surprise and delight at businesses you frequent— think of the last time you were given a free drink sample at Starbucks or you saw a movie theatre advertisement where patrons were surprised with free tickets. The halo effect of these small acts of kindness is huge.
Luckily there are easy ways to make your customers happy with random acts of kindness that won’t destroy your bottom line. Sneaking a free inexpensive gift into each order or waving shipping fees for a day will do wonders for customer loyalty. Even a handwritten note or email expressing your gratitude is enough to bring a smile to your customer’s face.
Jane's Resolutions and How Much Money we Made in 2016
In addition to this list, Jane recorded herself discussing her personal resolutions and big goals for the Stockroom in 2017. Watch this video to find out how much money the Stockroom made and what we're aiming for this year.