10 Tactics for Sticking to Your Small Business Resolutions

New Year's Resolutions 2016

Hello treadmill, it’s been a while.

The resolution-crazy masses are swarming the CrossFit gyms, and kale sales are through the roof. It’s January: the official month of good intentions.

Resolutions aren’t just for your thighs, though. For entrepreneurs, a new year can be just the incentive you need to give your business a refresh. What missteps did you take in 2016? What can you learn from them? Use the calendar reboot as an opportunity to start over and get things right in 2017.

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Statistically speaking, however, you’re going to fail. Whether your resolution is to become data literate, increase sales, or achieve a healthy work-life balance, you’re likely to abandon your goals if you don’t have a strategy.

We’ve compiled a list of 10 tactics to help your business resolutions stay fit and active. 

Let’s do this.

1. Define success

Make your resolutions measurable and meaningful. “Run a pop-up shop” might be on your list for 2016, but how can you gauge success? A lemonade stand on your front yard technically qualifies, but I’m guessing that’s not what you meant. Consider revising your wording by adding measurable specifics: “Run a X-week pop-up shop by X and sell X”.

2. Break it up

Digest resolutions more easily by slicing big goals into bite-sized pieces. If your resolution is to quit your day job and start a business in 2016, convert it into smaller steps. Maybe January's goal is to establish a budget, source a product, or set up the basics of your online store. Each month is broken up into manageable (but scary, ambitious) tasks that culminate in your December resignation letter. 

3. Write it down

I’m a pen and paper gal myself when it comes to lists; my iPhone has yet to replicate the satisfaction of striking out a completed task. For you, perhaps the whiteboard is your medium, or maybe Google calendar reminders would do the trick. There are several excellent task apps, too, which leads me to #4.

4. Use apps to stay on track

Mint for money, MyFitnessPal or CARROT Fit for your butt, Any.DO for lists, Zapier for cloning yourself, Trello for tracking and planning, Rescue Time for focus and productivity, Pomodoro Timer for procrastination, Xero for small business accounting. The list is endless.

Check out the Shopify App Store for even more tools to help with your business. What are your favorites?

5. Make it a habit

Bad habits are hard to break, and good ones can be just as difficult to form. For every person and habit, the length of time and steps needed can vary greatly. If your resolution is to stay on top of your expenses, success may rely on some habit-forming. Perhaps consider adding it to your morning routine, setting reminders, or employing the help of an app like Habitlist or a tool like Pavlok.

“Motivation is interwoven with the goals you make and the habits you plan to form in order to achieve them.” – Gregory Ciotti 

6. Crowdsource your motivation

There’s no 'i' in team! The gym-buddy concept can be applied to any resolution. Getting others involved in your process adds a level of accountability and provides extra inspiration when your own has run dry. Try getting a mentor, joining an online community of entrepreneurs, or using an app like Stickk.

7. Stay energized

Your personal resolutions can support those related to your business. If you’ve added “go to the gym” to your list for 2016, you’re not just helping your physique—your brain will thank you, too. Regular exercise gives you more energy to "get shit done" and more brainpower to make faster, smarter decisions.

8. Treat yo’self

Dinner begets dessert—it’s the oldest motivation trick in the book. I’m employing this tactic right now: if I finish the first draft of this blog today, I will allow myself 20 minutes of Pinterest indulgence.

Bonus: try a “mindful” respite through yoga, adult coloring, or even video games designed for this purpose. Not only can mindful activities reward progress, they can also help with stress and sleep.

9. Walk hard

Step away from daunting projects and to gain clarity and perspective.

“Spending time away from work is important to helping you maintain perspective on the challenges you face, and thus to the future of your company.” – Richard Branson

10. Hold yourself accountable

This is a tough one, but we’re here to help—share your business resolutions in the comments below! By writing them down in a public place you'll be much more likely to follow through.

Your (my) sparkling New Balance trainers are wasting away in your (my) closet after last year’s failed attempt at self-improvement. There, there. It’s another year, and yet another opportunity to be better. Resolve with abandon! 

What are your tricks that help you stick to your guns? Share them—and your business resolutions—in the comments below.