The Only New Year's Resolution Entrepreneurs Should Make This Year
Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox
Want your resolutions to stick? Don’t make them. Honor your entrepreneurial spirit (and say “Bye Felicia” to 2020) by setting intentions instead. Setting intentions allows you to align your goals with your mindset then refine those goals as you achieve them or evolve in a new direction, without losing your passion or drive. Here are three intentions to help put you on the path to a successful year and a more balanced life in 2021.
Intention No. 1: Cut out the crap
A writing professor in college used to say this routinely. For his students – myself included – that meant deleting unnecessary adverbs and filler words that didn’t move the story forward. For entrepreneurs, that means getting rid of extraneous noise and distractions that don’t move you forward – in business or in life. That’s not to say that anything that doesn’t drive revenue is ‘crap.’ If you volunteer for a non-profit or cause close to your heart, that’s certainly worthy of your time. But perhaps other things aren’t.
Social media rabbit holes. Do you wile away hours on Twitter reading political commentary? Set time limits.
Junk email purgatory. Do you spend time sifting through dozens of ‘junk’ emails getting to the ones you need? Unsubscribe.
New business pitches clearly out of your scope. Stick to opportunities that are best suited for your core capabilities and expand from there. If you’ve worked exclusively with B2B tech brands up until now, for example, but want to delve into new markets, try B2C tech brands, or consider B2B brands in the XaaS market.
Recurring subscriptions. Take inventory of the products and services your business pays for: are there overlaps? Could any be consolidated? When 2020 dealt its first blow back in March, many businesses raced to onboard immediate tools for remote working, e-commerce, and virtual communication and collaboration. Now that you've had a chance to settle in, cut out the crap by looking for a longer-term solution that allows all of your tools to communicate seamlessly.
Real estate. If your hipster office space has been sitting idle for the past nine months, consider subleasing or sharing the space with other entrepreneurs to cut costs.
Intention No. 2: Go public
Write your goals down where you can see them daily, and then share them with those you trust. When I started writing professionally, my biggest goal was to get published – anywhere. I started sending out query letters in 2005 and shared lines from rejection letters with family and friends. My break didn’t come until 2007, but when it did, those I’d told celebrated right along with me and continued to cheer me on as I published articles, poems, and short stories in a variety of regional and national publications. Once I became an entrepreneur, I didn’t think I had time to pursue writing for myself anymore. But the desire never left me, and eventually, I decided to combine what I’d learned from publishing for a consumer audience with what I’d learned over six years of running a business and writing content for Fortune 500 brands.
Identifying and sharing your goals is great, but that doesn’t mean you can sit back and wait for things to happen. What steps can you take to get there? Make a list of connections you can reach out to for help and another list of thought leaders or industry experts with whom you’d love to connect. I used LinkedIn to connect with editors, subscribed to magazines that catered to my target audience, and started keeping notes on potential topic ideas. My first Entrepreneur article was published this past October. Letting those you trust in on your goals not only helps to hold you accountable, but it provides you with a personal cheering section when you realize a goal (and a cheering up section when you don’t).
Intention No. 3: Make space for big ideas
Our best ideas typically come to us in the car, in the shower, or in our dreams. This is when we’re most relaxed and allow our minds room for new thoughts. You don’t have to take a shower, a nap, or a drive around town to make it happen; any space you give yourself will work.
Still, entrepreneurs are not known for doing a great job of balancing work and life. In fact, we tend to go all in on one, often at the expense of the other. I firmly believe the Apple Watch’s stand and move goals were inspired by entrepreneurs like us who hunker down behind a computer screen for countless hours, only lifting our heads to look for coffee. And that is no recipe for cultivating creativity. It may sound like a bunch of yoga-inspired fluff, but making self-care a priority isn’t just good for your health, it’s good for your business endeavors.
Be intentional about making space for yourself—to take a walk, practice a little yoga, or dust off an old musical instrument. Yes, it takes time away from your desk but not necessarily your work. The creative process isn’t linear and scheduling structured time to think of new ideas is rarely effective. Think of self-care as part of your entrepreneurial creative process and you’ll end up getting so much more than that, not the least of which is better health, a lower heart rate, and the ability to focus. Let you mind wander to something else, and see where it takes you.
2020 has been a year of challenges we’d sooner forget, but it has also given us the space to adapt and prioritize. If you take anything with you into the new year, let it be that space. You’re more than a business owner; you're an entrepreneur. That means you’re a visionary – you don’t just settle in and ride out the highs and lows. Allowing yourself the space to adapt, evolve and create can make a tremendous difference in your ability to focus and innovate in the new year.