As the calendar moves to January and another new year begins, a new year brings hope and new possibilities. Now is the perfect time to re-evaluate your business and set goals for 2023.
With that in mind, here are my top ten New Year’s resolutions for small business owners in 2023.
1. Don’t let a recession – or fear of it – change your growth plans
If your business is on a growth trajectory, don’t let the recession hold you back. Entrepreneurs are risk takers by nature. However, you may need to be prepared to put up with some short-term pain. If you plan to a small business loan for growth you will have to deal with higher interest rates, thanks to the tightening monetary policy of the Federal Reserve. But if you believe in yourself and your business, short-term pain can pay off in the long run.
2. Don’t skimp on your marketing
Research has repeatedly shown this companies that maintain their marketing spend emerge stronger during recessions once the tough times are over. So it is advisable to continue marketing during an economic slowdown to be ready for a higher ROI in the long run. During tough economic times, business owners often respond by cutting their marketing spend first. While it may be tempting to advertise and promote less, history shows that brands that maintain their marketing budget are less likely to experience a sales decline… and recover faster afterwards!
3. Find and keep good people
While unemployment remains historically low, that could change if a recession hits. Whether we are in a bull or bear market, it is important to find, hire and retain good people. Owners of young, growing businesses are often tempted to do everything themselves, but eventually find that that route is not sustainable in the long run. That’s why small business owners need to make talent acquisition a priority by 2023.
“Small business leaders must become excellent 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 general manager of a global talent management firm. ZRG. “The key is to keep the great talent you have. Keep them happy and satisfied so that when recruiters call them they will politely explain that they are not interested but can identify others who might be.
If you’re looking to add employees, understand that great candidates have options and the market for good people is highly competitive.
“When speaking to potential employees, a clearly defined ‘Why Statement’ is important,” says Johnston. “Describe why the candidate should consider joining your team.”
4. Create a positive work environment
Nearly two years from when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, workplaces are still exploring what the “new normal” should be and many are still struggling to set up their post-pandemic work environment. Often entrepreneurs want their employees to work full-time in the office again. However, their employees may have other ideas, whether it’s to continue working completely remotely or to make some kind of compromise. Flexible work schedules solve the problem.
For the most part, workers found that they could indeed be just as productive, if not more so, at home. The flexibility and reduction of commute travel 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 work environment can keep employees happy and productive, reducing the likelihood that they will look elsewhere for fulfillment.
5. Update your business plan
A business plan is not just a document that is written in the start-up phase to get start-up capital. Rather, a business plan provides a roadmap for your business to stay on track to achieve both long-term and short-term goals. Review your business plan regularly and think of it as a living document that is meant to be constantly updated. The beginning of the year is a good time to review your business plan and determine if any changes need to be made to it or the way you do business in 2023.
6. Focus on networking
While it may not have an immediate effect, networking is a useful tool for growing your business. Making and maintaining connections year-round can benefit you and your business later on. Set a goal to meet and connect with at least one new person every month. Building relationships with people in your network can take your business to the next level in 2023.
7. Apply technology to streamline processes
Use technology to make your business 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, as branches closed, banks digitized their lending processes so that small business borrowers could fill out loan applications online. Some institutions were not ready for this and had to act quickly partnering with fintech companies to automate the SME loan process. Now these banks are less dependent on the branch system and allow customers to complete applications at their convenience (nights, weekends) and securely upload their documents.
Furthermore, tools such as Zoom, enable companies to schedule meetings efficiently while saving on travel costs. While Zoom meetings can’t replicate the synergy of in-person meetings and bonding 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 business are great ways to build your brand. Even if you don’t consider yourself tech savvy, there are likely others in your company who are. Consider using social media, including LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebookeven TikTok to build your brand, especially if you’re trying to reach a younger audience. Don’t worry if you don’t have the skills to do this. There may be young members of your staff who are already well versed in social media and would be very interested in using their expertise to grow your business. If you don’t have anyone internally, consider getting one public relations firm that has those skills.
9. Focus on others
If you’re interested in hiring or selling members of Gen Z, remember that this generation is highly charitable and more socially aware than Gen X (the generation born between 1965 and 1980) and millennials (born between born between early 1980s and and late 1990s, who are now in their thirties). Gen Z is the first generation to never know a world without the internet. They value diversity, social justice and their own unique identity.
Gen Z has proven to be more socially aware and politically active than previous generations. They use their voice and influence on social media to bring attention to issues such as climate change, gun control and equality. They generally prefer companies that support causes – financially and through volunteering – that they believe in.
10. Focus on yourself
The pandemic has taught everyone, especially small business owners, that it’s important to focus on what matters outside of work. People realized that spending time with family, building in rest time and focusing on health are just as important as hitting sales targets.
Yes, seemingly every list of New Year’s resolutions includes losing weight, quitting smoking, drugs or alcohol, and getting in 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 your achievements in the business world and try to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Happy New Year everyone!