As an entrepreneur, you might think you’re pretty good at setting goals and planning for the future. But do you have the resolve to change daily habits and make changes stick in 2015? You can make resolutions and positive changes any time of the year, but January 1 is extra motivating for people. Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs make what are essentially wishes to themselves that are sometimes impossible to keep. When they fail, their business can suffer. Others don’t make resolutions challenging enough and get lulled into a false sense of success.
It’s time to sit down and map out some resolutions that are challenging yet achievable, and that will help both you and your startup grow. There are many ways to make those positive resolutions stick. However, get started by taking note of the worst resolutions entrepreneurs often make so you know what to avoid.
1. Make X amount of money.
This isn’t a totally unreasonable resolution as long as the amount you give yourself represents manageable growth from last year’s revenues. You may want to pick a range. Depending on the business, a good goal could be anywhere from 1 percent to 4 percent revenue growth. However, having such a clear, black-and-white figure looming over you can stress you out. There are economic factors that are largely out of your control. Managing operating expenses within your means will probably always help you in this area. While Time and other media outlets are reporting the economy isn’t as bad as many think, things change quickly, and there’s still no telling how your startup may fare.
Related: How to Set Sales Goals for Employees
2. Get onto a certain “best of” list.
Whether it’s a specific 40 Under 40, the Entrepreneur of the Year award from this very publication, some website list or a local business award, you might be setting yourself up for disappointment here. Almost every writer, famous or not, has had their manuscripts rejected in the early years (check out Buzzfeed’s list). You simply cannot, at any time, make someone else's approval the holy grail of your existence. Also, just because you’re not winning awards, that doesn’t mean your business doesn’t have merit. Don’t worry about any kind of outside validation, other than customers buying your product or businesses using it.
3. Somehow having more hours in the day than everyone else.
So you've been struggling to find work/life balance this past year. Of course, it’s healthy to try and develop it next year, but you only have so many hours in the day, and things pop up. Don't think you can make massive changes all at once. Perhaps for a single day you might be able to work 12 hours, make your boot camp class or yoga, attend your child’s recital and still somehow have a romantic homemade dinner with your other half. It's impossible to keep such a schedule, though.
Be reasonable and know that Rome wasn't built in a day. If you want to tackle a number of new work/life balance projects in the new year, good for you, but schedule them out in a reasonable way. Learn to be satisfied with incremental improvements.
4. Wooing an angel investor.
They’re called angel investors for a reason (they’re a miracle and some people swear they don’t really exist). If you’re in need of capital, seed money, investors, etc. then remember that "slow and steady" wins this race. This is especially true if you're living outside of Silicon Valley or a major American city with a startup ecosystem, and you aren't often exposed to these nebulous, legendary figures.
It is often said that angel investors will find you if it’s a good match, so focus on more traditional means of funding in the meantime. Work steady and hard to improve your network so that an angel might come closer to entering into your sphere of friends and work acquaintances. Also, consider a KickStarter campaign or crowdfunding if you want to try something new this year.
5. Making a profit.
Even shooting for this goal may be setting you up for disappointment at the end of the day. Many small businesses lose money for several years before they ever start earning. Your priorities should be paying your employees, if applicable, being frugal with the nest egg you hopefully saved up before starting your business, and keeping an eye on analytics to make sure you’re on the right track. Jeff Bezos of Amazon famously lost money for nearly a decade, so don’t get discouraged (but also take off any rose colored glasses).
Being an entrepreneur isn’t easy, and it’s most likely going to be a thankless job. Hopefully you got into the small business sector out of passion and you have ambition to spare. The upcoming year might not be "your year" (or it might), but it can easily be the year you move in a more positive direction. Be reasonable and don't give yourself goals that are really just unrealistic "wishes." Where will your resolutions lead you?