Roughly 41 percent of Americans make an annual New Year’s resolution, with commitments ranging from losing weight to saving money to giving up smoking.
Some even look beyond personal development and focus on improving their professional lives. For example, they may learn new business skills such as coding, accounting or public speaking — but why stop there?
This year, you could resolve to improve your entire business and start exploring ways to grow your profits.
What kinds of business-related New Year’s resolutions can help with these goals?
Here are some suggestions to get you started.
1. Eliminate Distractions
Even in professional offices, there are plenty of unnecessary distractions that can get in the way of productive work. Social media is an obvious one, and you can use browser extensions such as Chrome Nanny or StayFocused to prevent yourself (and your team) from wasting time on Facebook and similar sites.
However, there are less obvious distractions such as email clutter and long meetings. Consider implementing some or all of the following:
- Restrict internal emails to 50 words. The success of Twitter proves that you can fit a lot of information in a small amount of space.
- Encourage batch processing of emails. You don’t have to check your inbox every time another message arrives. However, this strategy only works if you turn off instant notifications. That gratifying “ding” is just too hard to resist.
- Limit meetings to 30 minutes tops, and always have a clear agenda already set. Otherwise you’re just wasting everyone’s time — including yours.
- Even better — eliminate meetings altogether. Most issues can be resolved through group emails or person-to-person exchanges.
2. Adopt the 80/20 Rule
Also known as Pareto’s Principle, the 80/20 rule states that “80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.”
When applied to the business world, this means that:
- Eighty percent of your profits come from roughly 20 percent of your customers. Thus, you should focus more of your attention on these disproportionately lucrative clients.
- Eighty percent of your problems also come from just 20 percent of your customers, so you should consider eliminating this deadweight.
Pareto’s Principle is a proven strategy for boosting productivity, and it is most effective when revisiting the 80/20 formula on a monthly basis. This allows you to keep trimming the fat.
3. Flextime and Telecommuting
Want to boost productivity and morale? Allowing your team to follow a more flexible working schedule could be the answer. Studies have shown that in offices that adopted flextime policies, employees:
- Produced more output
- Missed fewer days
- Worked longer hours
- Were happier overall
Similar trends exist with telecommuting. When employees can work from home, they may end up being more productive and satisfied.
4. Go Paperless
Maintaining and processing paper documents is time-consuming and expensive.
It’s also bad for the environment.
In 2018, you should start the process of digitizing all your records and moving to a truly paperless work environment.
This transition takes time.
Once you’re done, though, you’ll end up saving money and countless hours. You can also use your paperless pledge to win more clients. Customers increasingly prefer doing business with those who care about the environment.
Making Business New Year’s Resolutions That Actually Stick
Remember that earlier stat — 41 percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions?
Here’s another one.
According to Business Insider, 80 percent of those resolutions fail by February.
If you want to join the 20 percent of resolutions that succeed, you will need a game plan:
1. Set Smart Goals
The reason most resolutions fail is that they aren’t specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused and time-bound. In other words, they aren’t smart.
For example: Pledging to lose weight is too generic, but pledging to lose 2 pounds within 30 days by eating salad every lunch is smart.
The same applies to going paperless. It’s too generic. Yet pledging to scan 20 documents every Monday at 10 a.m. on the third-floor scanner is smart.
2. Do Group Brainstorming
Some of the strategies listed above use a top-down approach, meaning it’s the management (i.e., you) that is setting the policy.
However, you’ll receive a lot more buy-in if others can contribute ideas. As a group, decide what you want to achieve — and why.
This inclusion not only creates excitement and interest, but it also weaves social accountability into each resolution. With team members reinforcing one another’s behavior and providing encouragement, you all stand a much better chance of sticking to those resolutions as the months go by.
Making 2018 Your Happiest and Most Productive Year Ever
In theory, a New Year’s resolution is supposed to be a reward in and of itself. Losing weight, ditching smoking and growing profits are all intrinsically satisfying goals.
Achieving those goals, however, can be tough, but it doesn’t have to be.
With the right approach, your business can join the 20 percent of New Year’s resolutions that succeed (instead of the 80 percent that fail).
Here’s what that approach should look like:
- Sit down with your team and start brainstorming. You can even use the suggestions above to get the ball rolling.
- Define realistic goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused and time-bound.
- Choose one or two of these smart goals, and make sure everyone is on board. The more group buy-in you have, the more likely you’ll be able to succeed.
Finally, adding a few external rewards never hurts.
Consider sprinkling incentives along the way. For example, if the move to flextime working schedules does boost productivity, think about adding more employee perks — such as pizza lunches or extra vacation days.
We at BluePay hope 2018 is your happiest, healthiest and wealthiest year ever!