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 New Year resolutions checklist for entrepreneurs

 By Ben Bierman, Managing Director at Business Partners Limited

 The beginning of a year is infamous for all types of aspirational New Year’s resolutions. However, the number of gym routines and diets that are abandoned by the first week of February are enough to make anyone cynical about these resolutions.

Entrepreneurs however should urge themselves to think differently about New Year’s resolutions for their business and strive to remain steadfast in pursuing these.

The lives of entrepreneurs differ from those permanently employed in the sense that their work is never done. There is always that idea that needs to be taken off the back burner, several pitches to prepare, neglected systems and processes to update and improve, the next contract to win, and an inbox that is never empty. In this relentless world of work that entrepreneurs face, it is perhaps opportune to pause, to reflect, to evaluate and plan and resolve afresh the priorities for the year.

The beginning of a new year is perhaps the ideal time for entrepreneurs to step back and revisit elements key elements in the business, identify priorities and to resolve address them. A checklist of important aspects to consider include the following five areas: into which business owners can delve as deeply as they need to:

1. Revisit your business mode

Evaluate your value proposition which, in essence, unpacks how you create, capture and deliver value in an ever-changing market. New technologies are developed, new competitors emerge, clients' preferences change, and demographics shift. What has appealed to your customer base in the past can become obsolete very quickly. Very often all that is needed are small changes and incremental improvements to the existing value proposition and operating model to sustain your relevance.

2. Check your control levers

This is the one New Year's resolution that business owners should pay attention to.  Ineffective control of your business is often directly related to the quality and use of your financial statements as a tool. The control you have over your cash flow and more importantly the liquidity (your ability to meet your payment deadlines and how you manage your creditors and debtors) is the key to survival. The profitability of your business and the trends in profitability is a key to informing you about pricing strategies, cost effectiveness or other issues that affect your financial performance and returns. 

3. Check your team

In owner-managed businesses, the entrepreneur is the single most important resource, but very often the growth and wellbeing of the business is constrained because the entrepreneur shoulders too much responsibility. It is therefore prudent to assess the distribution of work responsibilities between the entrepreneur and the team to ensure the business is managed optimally and can grow. While checking the team carefully consider your team’s potential and their strengths - providing challenges often inspires the team and retains them longer.

4. Connect and reconnect with your network

The large numbers of contacts that business owners build up, even if they don't network consciously, is enormously valuable but seldom mined effectively. A networking secret that should form part of your New Year’s resolutions is to reach out regularly to all your contacts. Social media can also be effective and efficient in nurturing the relationships and increasing levels of awareness.

5. Get your work-life balance right

Making a living is no excuse for not living”. Entrepreneurs often postpone the life priorities because of the demands of the business. Although difficult, it is critically important to balance the often conflicting priorities, and resolve to set aside a minimum time allocation for nurturing the relationships with family and friends, and also ensure that you are healthy and content with what life offers.

While many resolutions have been made for 2018, an entrepreneur’s plans will be different – Find the balance by setting realistic and feasible goals that will be achievable, but also result in an enjoyable and meaningful business journey in 2018.

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