As the calendar flips to January and another new year begins, a new year brings hope and new possibilities. Now is the perfect time to reevaluate your business and establish goals for 2023.
With that in mind, here are my top ten New Year’s Resolutions for Small Business Owners in 2023.
1. Do Not Let a Recession — or Fear of It – Alter Your Growth Plans
If your business is on a growth trajectory, don’t let the recession stop you. Entrepreneurs, by nature, are risk-takers, after all. You may have to be willing to endure some short-term pain, however. If you plan on taking out a small business loan for growth, you will encounter higher interest rates, thanks to the Federal Reserve’s tightening monetary policy. But if you believe in yourself and your company, the short-term pain could produce long-term gain.
2. Don’t Cut Back on Your Marketing
Research has repeatedly shown that companies that maintain their marketing expenditures during recessions emerge stronger once the tough times are over. Thus, it is advisable to continue marketing during an economic slowdown in order to be poised for higher long-term ROI. During tough economic times, business owners often respond by first cutting their marketing expenditures. While it be tempting to scale back on advertising and promotion, history shows brands that maintain their marketing budgets are less likely to experience a sales decline… and more likely to bounce back quicker afterwards!
3. Find and Retain Good People
While unemployment remains near historic lows, that could change if a recession occurs. Whether we are in a bull or bear market, it is important to find, hire and retain good people. Owners of young, growing companies are often tempted to do everything themselves, but eventually find that route is not sustainable over the long haul. Thus, small business owners should make recruiting talent a priority in 2023.
“Leaders of small businesses need to become outstanding recruiters. They need to understand the career goals and objectives of their current team — from the hourly workers to the executive suite,” said Tom Johnston, a managing director at global talent management firm ZRG. “The key is to keep the great talent you have. Keep them happy and fulfilled so that when recruiters call them, they will politely explain they are not interested but could identify others who might be.”
If you are looking to add employees, understand that great candidates have options and the market for good people is very competitive.
“When speaking to potential employees, a clearly defined ‘Why Statement’ is important,” Johnston says. “Articulate why the candidate should consider joining your team.”
4. Create a Positive Work Environment
Nearly two years removed from when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, workplaces are still exploring what the “new normal” should and many are still having trouble establishing their post-pandemic work environments. Frequently, business owners want their employees back in the office full time. However, members of their staff might have other ideas, whether it be continuing to work fully remote or establishing some type of compromise. Flexible work schedules solve the problem.
Workers, for the large part, established that they could indeed as productive, if not more so, at home. The flexibility and reduction of commuting time and costs became quite desirable and may be a lingering impact of the pandemic. Small business owners must be open to flexibility and work to strike the right balance in 2023. Creating a positive working environment can help keep workers happy and productive, thereby reducing the likelihood that they will look elsewhere for satisfaction.
5. Update Your Business Plan
A business plan is not just a document written at the startup phase in order to obtain seed money. Rather, a business plan provides a roadmap for your company to stay on track to reach both long-term and short-term goals. Revisit your business plan periodically and consider it a living document that is meant to be continuously updated. The beginning of the year is a good time to take a look at your business plan and determine if any changes should be made to it or to the way you are conducting your business in 2023.
6. Focus on Networking
While it may not have immediate affects, networking is a useful tool in growing your business. Making and keeping connections throughout the year can benefit you and your business later down the road. Set a goal of making and connecting with at least one new contact each month. Building relationships with people in your network could be what takes your company to the next level in 2023.
7. Apply Technology to Streamline Processes
Use technology to make your company more efficient. There may be aspects of your business that can be automated to make things run much smoother and keep better track of your expenses. Automating processes can save time and money. For example, during the pandemic, when branches were closed down, banks digitized their lending processes to enable small business borrowers to fill out loan applications online. Some institutions were not ready to do so and had to quickly partner with fintech firms to automate the SMB lending process. Now these banks are less reliant on the branch system and enable customers to fill out applications at their convenience (nights, weekends) and upload their documents safely and securely.
Further, tools like Zoom, enable companies to schedule meetings efficiently while cutting down on travel expenses. While Zoom meetings cannot replicate the synergy of in-person meetings and the bonding such meetings establish between team members, they still have the potential to be more productive than conference calls and group emails in effectively communicating ideas.
8. Continuously Build Your Brand
Understanding your target audience and who you are as a company are great ways of building your brand. Even if you do not consider yourself tech-savvy, there are likely others in your firm who are. Consider using social media, including LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, and even TikTok to build your brand – especially if you are trying to reach a younger demographic. If you don’t have the skills to do this, don’t worry. There may be young members of your staff who are already well versed in social media and would be quite interested in utilizing their expertise to make you grow your business. If you don’t have anyone internally, then consider hiring a public relations firm that has those skills.
9. Focus on Others
If you are interested in hiring or marketing to members of Gen Z, remember that this generation places high value on causes and is more socially conscious than Gen X (the generation born between 1965 and 1980) and Millennials (born between born between the early 1980s and the late 1990s, who now in their 30s). Gen Z is the first generation to never know a world without the internet. They place value diversity, social justice, and their own unique identities.
Gen Z has proven to be more socially conscious and politically active than previous generations. They are using their voices and social media influence to bring attention to issues such as climate change, gun control, and equality. They typically prefer companies that support causes — financially and through volunteer efforts — that they believe in.
10. Focus on Yourself
The pandemic taught everyone, particularly small business owners, that it is important to focus on what’s important outside of work. People realized that spending time with family, building in down time, and focusing on health are as important as reaching sales goals.
Yes, seemingly every list of New Year’s Resolutions includes losing weight, quitting smoking, drugs or alcohol, and getting into better shape. These elements are important for both physical and mental health. Identify and manage the stressors in your life, at work and at home. Take time to enjoy what you have accomplished in the business world and try to maintain a health work-life balance.
Happy New Year, everyone!