The beginning of a new year is a great time for self-reflection, which applies equally to your professional life and your personal life. So as you enter 2016, consider these five questions about your work as a small business owner. Hopefully they can lead you to some insights that will help take your business to new heights!
How can I keep learning?
It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in business, you should always continue to learn. Asking yourself this question at the beginning of the year will help you plan ways to do so. Are there classes or training programs you can take? Are there workshops or conferences you can attend? Can you establish a relationship with a mentor? Or even just create a list of books to read about your industry or entrepreneurship? Think of which methods of learning will work best for you and create a plan to act on them!
How should I grow my business?
This one may seem like an obvious question business owners should ask themselves, and it isn’t specific to the beginning of the year. Nonetheless, it’s probably the most important question an entrepreneur faces, so it’s important to address. Specifically, you may want to examine whether your business is in a situation to apply for a small business loan or line of credit to expand your operations. Are there new opportunities out there that you shouldn’t wait to seize? Keeping a big picture focus on growth is important for you as an owner, while you let your management team(s) focus on day-to-day operations.
What are our goals, objectives and top priorities for this year — and how will we measure success?
This question has a few pieces to it, but is especially important to determine. It’s not uncommon for business owners to think their original business plan is sustainable over the course of the business’ lifetime, but as businesses evolve, so should its goals and objectives. Establish what you what to accomplish this year up front, as well as how you will measure success. Be as specific as possible!
How can I grow my online presence?
As technology becomes increasingly ingrained in our everyday lives, it’s important for your business to adapt. Identify the ways in which you can expand your business’ online presence this year. Can your business benefit from growth in social media? Are there social media platforms that your company doesn’t have a presence on that it should? Does your company’s website need to be updated? Can you be making more of your sales online? Only you and those who know your business very well can identify these answers, but now is the time to think about it.
What should we stop doing?
There’s a natural tendency for entrepreneurs to focus on what they should start doing — and sure enough, each of our previous four questions help to identify such things. But the hardest question you will face is about what you’re willing and able to eliminate. It can be difficult to decide to stop doing things — especially if those things were once successful. But by taking a fresh and objective look at your business, you should be able to identify practices and programs that are taking up more valuable time and resources than they’re worth. Consider what else might be more deserving of these resources — then make it happen!