In this article, we explore the common trend of recent years, many business publications and influencer sites are recommending; New Years Resolution for Business…I will give you my take on this and the two reason to avoid them.
Approximate reading time: 12 minutes
Are you considering New Years Resolution…Yes. Resolution. This seems to be a popular trend. Many business social sites seem to be promoting the concept of a New Years Resolution for business.
I always like to look at definitions and defining their context.
What is the definition of a Resolution?
The definition of Resolution is varied but in the context of this article it is:
"A resolution is a formal decision taken at a meeting by means of a vote.“
Also in the definition,
“ If you make a resolution, you decide to try very hard to do something.”
“Resolution is determination to do something or not do something.”
(Ref: Collins Dictionary )
What is a New Years Resolution?
Traditionally a New Years Resolution is a Western custom (although now typically practised all over the world) which is centred around making some form of change to improve one’s life. This custom (according to Sarah Pruitt in her article on www.history.com ) dates back to Babylonian times around 2000BC and was in honour of the new year which coincided with the planting of new crops. Over the centuries this was taken up by religious orders as a means to reflecting on ones errors during the past year and resolving to improve or do better in the coming year as a promise to God.
In modern times, this custom has be adopted by most cultures. However, rather than making a promise to God, people now make a promise to themselves and focus only on themselves. Along this journey over the centuries, the transition from trying to resolve at a holistic level ( ie both internally and externally) has been shifted to a self-centred approach and influenced significantly by opportunistic capitalists wanting to put their hands in your pocket and depart with some of your hard earned cash during the process. The article references statistic reserach results also, and goes on to highlight that as a result, the success rate of achieve your self centred resolution is not that great. With only about 8% of people who make New Years Resolution actually achieving them.
Over recent years, making a New Years Resolution have filtered through to the business and corporate space. December into early January seems to be filled with industry website articles, blogs and vlogs on this topic and how a New Years Resolution is critical for business success. These are the type of headlines you have probably seen:
Top New Year's Resolutions for Small Business Owners in 2018
Reference - Inc.
8 Entrepreneurs Share Their New Year's Resolution
Reference- Business New Daily
4 New Year's Resolutions for Small-Business Owners
Reference - Entrepreneur
These articles are informative and they provide some good insight, suggestions and recommendations on what business leaders /owners or entrepreneurs should be doing to prepare for the new year. These suggestions include:
- operating budgets
- record keeping
- work life balance
- training and development
- plan ahead
- competitive analysis
- manage cash flow
- find better payment options
On a softer level, suggestions also include:
- find time for your passion
- be authentic
- focus on what is important
These recommendations are all positive and encouraging and I am sure the articles, blogs and vlogs were written or compiled with every good intension to add value. The problem is they are all too closely related to the classic New Years Resolution the modern day person has become accustom to. And here is part of the problem. In fact, from my perspective, I really have two issues with business related New Year Resolutions, which are:
- Having a New Years Resolutions….Full Stop
- The stigma associated with January 1 or the New Year.
1. Having a New Years Resolution:
I understand the concept of a New Years Resolution…I really do. As a youngster in my late teens, I did it a couple of times. I consider myself to be a person who is honest, strong willed, committed, disciplined, and follows through on promises. It’s a reflection on how I was brought up. But talking about honesty…And if I am truely honest, I didn’t achieve my New Years Resolution. Sure I was young at the time and perhaps one might conclude that my age had something to do with the success or lack of success. Maybe it did. But when you look at the statistics on New Years Resolutions, it is clear that success ( or achievement ) is not too successful.
Based on a survey (from a different source) conducted for last year (2017) only 9.2% of people felt they were successful in achieving their New Years Resolution. In a paper published in the American Psychologist, authors Janet Polivy and Peter Herman said “New Year’s resolvers typically report making the same pledge for five years or more before they manage a six-month success, and of those who fail this year, 60 per cent will make the same resolution again next year,”
This is my issue with recommending business leaders and entrepreneurs to make New Years Resolutions for their business. We ( i.e. people ) don’t have a great track record at keeping them and the statistics along with the research supports this. In many cases, the resolution decision is made very late with not much consideration of what is needed to succeed. We are unclear on what we want to achieve and that is usually accompanied with a lack of focus on the things needed to be done. This can be made worse, because when you consider the purpose, you continually swing from it being a new years resolution to something you are trying to achieve….very confusing. When dealing with the change and the challenges associated with all this as well as the challenges of life getting in there too, quite often the New Years Resolution are not taken all that serious. And when you don't take something serious or to be important then it doesn’t get any attention. Or in simpler terms, it doesn’t get done.
Circling back to my issue with recommending the business community to make New Years Resolutions. Given;
- we don't have a great track record at succeeding with New Years Resolutions and
- for one reason or another we don’t tend to really take them serious,
it really isn't the right message that business needs.
"Serious", is the keyword here. What I mean by this is that business needs to be taken serious. Yes you should enjoy yourself and yes it should be fun and enjoyable. Like everything else in life, it will have its ups and downs. But, all that aside, business is a serious matter. It impacts you, your employees, your suppliers and of course your customers. If you are going to embark on something which is to improve an aspect of your business, then it needs to be taken serious, planned well and given the necessary support or resources to be executed successfully.
2. The New Year Stigma:
Let’s get to the point. What is so special about January 1 that you could not do on December 1 or November 18 or any other day of the year?.
The concept of putting it off until the new year, isn’t a good business practise. Good businesses which are successful, are so because they are based on good practises with strategic intent. These strategic actions are formulated to answer the big “Why” of the business. In my opinion, the only factor which would delay an action is a resource constraint. In other words…Taking action whether it be an improvement or opportunity related should be constrained by resources ( time, manpower and budget) and not the new year.
It all comes down to common sense. Take action when it’s needed. Don’t put it off until after the first working day back in January. Yes it is important to improve. And yes it is important to reflect on what you can do better. But not package it into a New Years Resolution and throw it into next years basket of things to do because that is the trend…Or even worse, that is the recommendations plastered across many industry influencer websites. This is not how business is run or works.
Ok... So What should you do:
It all comes back to basics. Keep things simple. Every business needs to have a business plan and business strategy. It needs to have clarity, focus and purpose so its big “Why” is defined. If you have tried to do this and it still feels a little wishy-washy or ambiguous, get some help to sort this out. Check out this free eBook which will help you get on the right track. Because, if you can’t define your big “Why” ( = Clarity, Focus and Purpose), then how will you know what you need to do to make your business or idea or opportunity a success.
To be clear. Every business needs to have defined their “Why”. What it is they are all about. What they are in business for. What their objectives are. When this is done, you can plan the actions need to deliver success or the outcome you need.
If you are past this phase and confident that it is well defined. You need to do the following:
- establish the cycle, the period or time frame your business plan covers
- have periodic reviews ensure your initiatives are heading in the right direction.
Reviews of your business are important. In the event you need to make changes because of new information or changes in circumstances.
- This process or behaviour or activity must occur continually.
It needs to happen continually, so you can keep your finger on the pulse of your business or project or what ever it is you are working on. It is not hard to do. It is simple. Actually, it is one of the most simples and most effect means to achieve success but in reality is quite often overlooked especially in the SME space.
Successful business enterprises do this like it’s second nature ( without even raising an eyebrow) . It’s part of their business systems and processes. And for you small business owners who believe this is only for the corporates who can afford to do this…Well, you need to change your beliefs. I have worked for successful global multi billion dollar organisations and I have worked for small Australian business and the only real difference is scale. The larger organisation do things on a larger scale because they need to. Having a robust business model defined, along with robust systems are applicable and are necessary whether you are:
- a company of 1 or many
- operating from a single site or multiple sites
- a multi-billion dollar revenue company or a sub-million dollar revenue company
Getting back to “What should you do”
- Have a Business Plan and Business Strategy
- Have Robust and Effective Systems to run and support your business
- Have Clarity, Focus and Purpose within your business
- Work on developing and improving your People and Processes
- Have continuous improvement as an active and integral part of your business and business culture.
The development, improvement and execution of your product or service will happen by default if you have the above five elements nailed.
The Wrap Up.
Forget about New Years Resolution for business ( and really for yourself) because they come with a bag full of statistics and history which don’t lend themselves to leading you to success ( in most cases).
Don’t put off until the New Year what you should be and are capable of doing sooner.
Your business needs to be driven by your big “Why” and as such your must have a business plan and strategies to define the objectives and the actions you need to undertake to be successful.
Having robust, simple and effective systems in place will drive good planning and decision making and enable you to take calculated risks to improve, scale and grow your business and succeed.
What do you think?
Principal - ANBA Solutions
Andrew Baldacchino, is a business coach, mentor, facilitator and speaker. He applies his global industry experience to help product manufacturing, trade and professional service providers be more profitable, time effective, organised and competitive so their business simply works. Develop your people, processes and purpose so you can improve, scale and grow. Progress is impossible without change.