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5 New Year’s Resolutions to Take Your Business to New Heights in 2020

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Regain Your Time by Learning the Art of Saying No

New Year’s resolutions are good for more than personal growth. If you want to grow your business in 2020, now is the time to set goals for the new year. Simply putting your goals on paper makes you 42% more likely to achieve them.

Growth comes in many flavors. Whether you want to give your culture, marketing, sales, or something else entirely a facelift in 2020, consider making one or more of these New Year’s resolutions for your business:

Resolution No. 1: Extend the holiday cheer.

The holiday season makes people happy. Unfortunately, the boost to workers’ mood and motivation doesn’t always last. If leaders don’t make an effort to maintain that environment, team members quickly reacclimate. Soon, stress seeps back in.

Leaders need to promote workplace harmony to keep tensions low and spirits high. Set out a box so colleagues can make cultural suggestions without worry. Review them at an all-staff meeting, and decide together which to implement. Give gifts and encourage gratefulness year ‘round, not just around the holidays.

Resolution No. 2: Be more transparent.

If there’s one resolution every company should make, this is it. Transparency plays an underappreciated role in productivity. Workers who feel included and understand company goals are more willing and able to achieve those goals. 

Make revenue and expenses an open conversation. Map out the business strategy for everyone to see. Encourage top-down, bottom-up, and peer-to-peer feedback. Use tools like Slack and processes like weekly updates to keep people in the loop.

Resolution No. 3: Manage time methodically. 

Another great way to boost productivity is to improve your time management skills. It’s easy to get caught up in daily distractions and busy work. Ask yourself each day, week, month, and quarter: What needs to get done, and where will it fit?

Start by implementing a zero-based calendar. Fill every 15-minute block with something, even if it’s merely meditating or responding to emails. Encourage your team members to do the same, and be sure to share calendars so everyone can see what others are working on.

Resolution No. 4: Set Sales Goals.

A business is nothing without sales. If you don’t have specific targets set for 2020, take a moment to do so. Think in percentages: You might want to increase revenue by 10% compared to last year, for instance.

To get there, you need a plan. Ask salespeople about kinks in your pipeline. Interview current customers about high and low points in their sales experience. If you haven’t already, invest in sales tools to automate outreach.

Resolution No. 5: Get more attention online. 

Digital channels are how most companies get business these days. If you buy billboards or newspaper ads, shift that spend to more modern tactics. Research suggests that organic and paid search, as well as social media and email marketing, have the highest ROI of digital channels.

Social media, in particular, allows you to create virtual customer environments. Online groups and forums are nearly free to set up. Beyond their branding benefits, they allow you to provide support to customers who might not be willing to call in.

Resolutions are powerful because they help you hold yourself and your team accountable. Think about where your business needs that discipline the most, and set your 2020 goals to suit. 

7 Lessons Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Holiday Traditions

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7 Lessons Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Holiday Traditions

For entrepreneurs, the holidays mean more than an annual sales bump. They’re a season to reflect on what holiday traditions can teach us about business.

Everyone celebrates the holidays differently. Some people are happy to enjoy the season sitting in front of a Christmas tree or yule log. For others, all that matters is spending time with family. Still others spend the time attending bake-offs and holiday parties.

But however you celebrate the holidays, you can learn a few things from common traditions:

1. Enjoy others’ lights, but don’t be blinded by them.

As an entrepreneur, it’s important to take stock of what others are doing. But just as you shouldn’t drive around all day just to look at Christmas lights, you don’t want to focus so heavily on other companies that you neglect your own.

Take the time to hang your lights. Differentiate yourself, and keep in mind that every budget is different. It’s all well and good to be inspired by others, but it would be pretty lame to copy someone else’s lighting scheme.

2. Do something nice for your neighbors.

Reach out to other businesses in your metaphorical neighborhood. Seeing other companies in your industry strictly as competition can cause you to miss out on key mentorship and partnership opportunities. 

Start small: Reach out on LinkedIn, and share content that you think might be helpful. Offer to get lunch in order to discuss ways you might be able to lend a hand in the new year. 

3. Reconnect with family and friends.

There are two major holiday letter-writing traditions: Christmas cards and thank-you notes. Both are a means for staying connected with the people you care about.

Just as important as establishing good relationships is maintaining them. Check in with the people that care about your business and express appreciation for their support. This includes not only customers and clients but also colleagues and suppliers. Don’t be that person who only reaches out when you need something. 

4. Give yourself something to look forward to.

Advent calendars are used to count down the days until Christmas and meter out daily treats. Start each business day by checking your calendar and scheduling something fun for yourself, like a lunch out or leisure activity after work.

Be flexible, but set boundaries for when you will and won’t be working. Effective scheduling can save time and make the time you do spend working more productive. 

5. Throw a party. 

The centerpiece of most holiday traditions is a party or celebration. Family and friends gather for food, fun, and good company. Bring everyone together by hosting a similar year-end party at work.

Celebrations have business value: They build trust, deepen relationships, and release stress. Tension in the office can be culturally destructive, and periodic parties are a great way to alleviate it. 

6. Make yourself a wish list. 

Remember how, as a kid, you’d jot down everything you wanted from the new year? Pick that habit back up as an entrepreneur.

Creating a wish list helps you make your desires more concrete. Create two of them: one that’s aspirational, and another that is more practical. Know the differences between what you want, what you actually need, and what you can afford. 

7. Take time to rest. 

Both at work and at home, the holidays are busy. Although it’s good to celebrate, it’s just as important to give yourself a break. Taking a break is a great way to boost your productivity down the line.

Give yourself some grace: You’ve worked hard this year. Don’t beat yourself up for spending a few days away from work, taking a midday nap, or lounging around on a wintery day.

Enjoy the holidays, but remember what they stand for. When you get back to business in the new year, you’ll be that much more ready to reach for the next rung.

4 Inspiring Books for Entrepreneurs to Read in 2020

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5 Ways to Encourage Reading at Your Workplace

Did you read the books you wanted to this year? Whether you conquered your list or barely touched it, you’re about to get the chance to start fresh.

If you want to be the sort of entrepreneur who stands out from the crowd, it’s important to choose reads that inspire and challenge you. Whether you want to increase sales, learn the art of stress management, or start a new company altogether, books can help you get there. 

1. “The $100 Startup” by Chris Guillebeau

Not every new business idea costs a lot of money to turn into reality. The New York Times bestselling author Chris Guillebeau shows you how to lead a life of adventure, meaning, and purpose — and earn a good living along the way. 

Guillebeau explores case studies in which people with no “special skills” discovered how to monetize their personal passions. In each case, Guillebeau shows how the person restructured his or her life to live a life of greater freedom and fulfillment.

You don’t need to be rich or have previously founded a company in order to succeed, Guillebeau shows. All you need is passion, a product or service, people willing to pay, and a way to get paid.  

2. “How to Win Friends & Influence People” by Dale Carnegie

In case you haven’t read this classic, add it to your list for 2020. One of the most popular self-improvement books in American history, Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends & Influence People” has sold more than 30 million copies.

Carnegie’s book isn’t simply about expanding your circle of friends. Negotiation, sales, marketing, HR, and leadership skills all get some love within it’s pages. Dig in to learn to close a partnership, take the focus off of price, and provide a better customer experience in 2020. 

3. “Dare to Lead” by Brené Brown

Brené Brown, another New York Times bestselling author, is looked up to by leaders everywhere. “Dare to Lead” is a thought-provoking book born from the years Brown spent at enterprises, startups, and companies of every size in between.

What did Brown find? She learned that leaders not just in business, but at nonprofits and civic groups all ask the same question: “How do you cultivate braver, more daring leaders, and how do you embed the value of courage in your culture?”

Courage cannot be built in a single day, or even by reading a single book. Brené emphasizes empathy, patience, and helpfulness as key ingredients for leading workers into an unknown future.

4. “That Will Never Work” by Marc Randolph

Netflix may be a behemoth of a company now, but it has come a long way. This book covers the previously untold story of how Netflix went from a concept to a Blockbuster-beating enterprise.

Marc Randolph, the company’s co-founder and first CEO, is exceptionally open in his telling of Netflix’s history. From early-stage conversations about cash flow to employee disagreements, Randolph walks the readers through his choices in a calm yet amusing style.

Not every entrepreneur will found the next Netflix, but bear in mind as you read this book that Randolph’s company could have crashed and burned. It didn’t because Randolph persevered, took care of his team, and had the courage to ask whether an existing model needed an overhaul. 

Entrepreneurs have no shortage of good read to choose from, but these four are great choices for the new year. Make the most of chilly weekends by curling up in your favorite chair, grabbing a book, and keeping your notepad close at hand. You never know what ideas you’ll stumble upon, or just how much they’ll help your company grow in 2020. 

4 Tips to Start the New Year Strong

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4 Tips to Start the New Year Strong

If winter weather gets you down, remember: Each new year offers an opportunity to create the company — not to mention the life for yourself — you want. Prioritizing your goals ensures that you make progress on those critical projects.

Those projects may feel endless, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a jump on your list. To start out the new year strong, make these four changes now:

1. Rethink your morning routine.

Starting your day right is one of the best ways to make it productive. Nothing is worse than waking up late, missing breakfast, and putting yourself behind schedule for the rest of the day. Crafting a morning schedule that promotes physical and mental health is a skill that will help you in 2020 and beyond. 

Start every day with something physical. Run, ride your bike, or work in the garden — whatever works for you. Be sure, too, to eat a healthy breakfast. If you’re not taking care of your body, you can’t hope to take care of a whole company. 

Mental health is often overlooked but is equally important. As an entrepreneur, you will experience moments of fear and doubt. One of the best ways to improve your mental health is by practicing grounding habits, such as meditation, reading, or writing, in the morning. Not only do these activities kickstart the brain, but they give you time to address personal issues that would otherwise weigh on your mind throughout the day.

2. Map out your day — but be flexible.

For many entrepreneurs, their planner and calendar are their most important tools. Before you ever arrive at the office, map out your day. Things can change quickly, though, so build in breathing room. That way, if a colleague ropes you into an unexpected meeting, your whole day won’t be thrown off.

Breaking your day in 15-minute blocks is a fantastic way to see work get done while also building in time for things like responding to emails and calls. If you use a digital calendar, set it so that you receive notifications 15 minutes ahead of time. Then, when it’s time to switch tasks, you’ll get a notification.

3. Write out the “why” behind major tasks.

If you’re going to spend a significant number of those 15-minute blocks on a project, you need to be clear on your reason for doing so. In a single sentence, write out your larger goal behind each of those tasks.

To slot those tasks into your schedule, think about the goal associated with each. Order them not by the difficulty or the size of the task itself, but by the goal behind it. Even if finding that next salesperson takes time and is less important in the moment than other tasks, you might prioritize it because boosting revenue is your biggest goal for the new year. Good things take time.

4. Learn your natural rhythm.

Knowing when you are most productive, when you tend to slow down, and when you want to be around people is key for entrepreneurs. The better you know yourself, the better you’ll be able to make use of your time. 

Start with standard business hours. If you are most effective with sales and relationship development between 8 a.m. and noon, schedule your appointments in the morning. If you struggle to get work done between 12:30 and 2:30 pm, schedule this time to respond to phone calls and emails.

Think about your after-hours productivity as well. If you have some clean-up work to do later in the evening, should you do that around 7 p.m. or 9 p.m.? Make sure to leave ample time for family, self-care, and personal development as well. And don’t forget about your commute time: Could you respond to proposals or reach out to leads during that time?

2020 will be here before you know it. Re-evaluate how you’re spending your time, think back to your goals, and know when you’re best equipped to tackle each task. The more changes you make now, the easier next year will be. 

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