Forget New Year’s Resolutions, Use a 3-Word Plan for 2013

Toss your new year’s resolutions. You probably won’t stick with them.

top new years resolutions

I’ve been getting lots of email newsletters with tips on how to plan for 2013. I’ve found that Chris Brogan’s 3-word annual theme is by far the best approach. It’s simple. You just have to remember 3 words. And each of the words you pick will have meaning to you.

I expanded my list of 3 words to have one set for my personal life and one set for my business. Here are my personal growth words for 2013:

Declutter

My old boss used to say that gravity is the most powerful force in the universe. Over the years, everything gravitates to the storage room in the basement. My storage room has been cluttered for too long. During the holiday break, my wife and I got rid of the junk we collected. It appeared to be a daunting task when we started so we took it one section at a time, removing unwanted objects to haul off. By the end of the day – and it was a long day – our storage area was completely cleaned out. Everything was on shelves and fully organized. The best part: it decluttered our minds. I’ve got lots of other areas at my home and office that could use a clean-up so the term “declutter” to me in 2013 means to work on something every weekend until I’m satisfied. This week, the target was my email inbox, which is now fully decluttered. My goal is to be completely decluttered by March 31.

Run

I try to exercise regularly, but sometimes I allow myself to slip on my routine. I’ll then feel guilty about it so it’s a no-win situation – I might as well just do it. Between managing work and a family life with young kids, time can easily escape. Of all of the different types of workouts I’ve done, I’ve found running makes me feel the best. It also provides me with the best return for the time invested. Every time I jog, I feel like I cleaned my body from the inside. I breathe better, have a stronger focus and bubble with creative ideas. It makes me happy and productive. Run has a dual meaning. When I set my eyes on a goal, I want to make sure I don’t put obstacles in my own path or subconsciously slow down. So, “run” in 2013 to me means two things: 1) physically run every week, 2) keep pushing myself hard until I achieve a goal I set.

Read

I love reading. It’s the fastest way to building new skills. I read magazines and blogs all the time and pick up a lot of new ideas that help in growing my business. I find that I do most of my book reading over the summer. My weekends are slower then and I enjoy going out on my deck in warmer weather to relax with a tasty beverage and a good book. So I got to thinking: if I enjoy that feeling so much, why don’t I do more of it year-round instead of in the summer? It prompted me to put “read” to round out my top 3 words for 2013.

Here are some other words and possible meanings that you can use as you develop your own 3-word plan for 2013:

  • Start – stop just talking about starting a company, do it
  • Analyze – evaluate detailed metrics for my business so I make informed decisions
  • Content – write articles to share my knowledge with clients and have a long lasting impact that showcases my expertise
  • Publish – write a book and get it published on Kindle
  • Fund – pitch investors and get financing to grow my business
  • Mingle – join an online dating site to meet my match
  • Laugh – throw at least one party every quarter to enjoy a glass of wine with my friends
  • Hawaii – save for and plan a vacation to Hawaii
  • Participate – find out about openings on local boards or commissions in my county and apply to become a member; plan a strategy to run for a local political office

So forget your new year’s resolution. Create a theme instead. It’s only 3 words so it will be easy to remember. Paste your words on your bathroom mirror so you are reminded of your theme every morning and night. Want something a little longer? Read my big list of sample goals. You will have an amazing 2013!

Confidence is Up: Most CEOs are Bullish About 2012

Vistage, an international CEO group that I belong to, just released their latest quarterly CEO Confidence Index.  I took part in this survey of executives which gauges their optimism for the upcoming 12 months.  They ask questions like how many jobs are you planning on adding and when, are you projecting sales growth, and other things that check the pulse of what’s going on in executives’ minds.

This time, even with the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) continuing its slide, the CEO Confidence Index is trending upwards.

This means that most CEOs are optimistic about the next 12 months. That’s excellent news for job seekers because it reflects the fact that executives are projecting better times ahead.  Couple this with your new years resolutions and you’ll have a very lucky 2012!

5 New Years Resolutions That Will Grow Your Business

You can bring a tremendous amount of luck to your life and business in 2012. The new year is an excellent opportunity to align your tactical and strategic priorities. Here are 5 new years resolutions that every small business owner should make:

1. Increase revenue by 20%. new years resolutions

If you are not planning for growth, outside forces will drive your company to shrink. You should strive for at least 15% growth each year. This can come in the form of new clients or additional business from current clients. This level of revenue increase can usually accommodate fluctuations in the market place, pricing pressures, and new expenses such as higher salaries due to giving raises, changes in payroll or unemployment taxes and increases in healthcare premiums.

2. Reduce fixed expenses by 5%.

To grow, you often need to re-invest your profits.  This can result in increased variable expenses.  That said, you can usually trim a bit off of your fixed expenses.  Start by evaluating your technology since most companies can become more efficient just by computerizing some processes. Renegotiate your lease to take advantage of lower rates. Look at cheaper options for your phone or Internet services.  You can find efficiencies in many places. Find out how other firms in your industry manage their operations. Evaluate the cost/benefit of outsourcing some of your activities. What might seem like a large investment up front may end up saving you a significant amount of cash over time.

3. Communicate with all of your customers at least once a month.

To get more business, stay in touch regularly. The adage “out of sight, out of mind” holds true. Your competition is trying to steal your clients away from you. Don’t get blindsided. Send your customers educational information that can help them with their business. Things like case studies, trends, mistakes to avoid and information about what you have done for other clients will position you as a trusted source and make you top of mind. The goal of this strategy is to become the first company your clients think of when they need to solve a problem that you can help with. For most businesses, a monthly touch will work wonders towards building stronger client relations.

4. Identify at least one opportunity for innovation.

Brainstorm with your team, your spouse, your friends to come up with a new product or service idea, a new way to streamline a process including collecting receivables or scheduling payables, a better way to manage inventory, a clever way to attract customers or be unique in your clients’ eyes. Dedicate time on your calendar to look for ways that your company can do something that hasn’t been done before or do something common in an uncommon way. Companies that do not innovate often get left behind by those who do.

5. Delegate at least one of your tasks.

As a business owner, your time is the most precious in your company. if you spend it doing tasks that other, less expensive workers can do, then you are actually losing money. It prevents you from working on more profitable activities that will have a much stronger impact on your bottom line. Choose your personal work wisely. Let others do the work that you don’t have to do or like to do.

Making these resolutions will help you see how to expand your business and achieve the growth you envisioned the day you decided to start your company. Here’s to an amazingly successful 2012!

How to Plan for 2012

It’s time to plan for 2012.  The slow time between Christmas and New Years often gives me an opportunity to reflect on the past year and figure out where I want to be one year from now. This goes well beyond making New Years resolutions.

Here is the process my company uses to plan 2012.  This works well for setting personal goals, too.

  1. List accomplishments and shortcomings of the past year. This provides a good baseline as we develop our 2012 plan.
  2. Review our core values.  What is important to us colors how we look at new opportunities and decide which goals to pursue. The problem never lies in having too few opportunities. It is in narrowing down the best ones. This often overlooked step causes people to pursue activities that are scattered.
  3. Create specific goals. We break this down by category like new products and features, infrastructure, marketing, sales.
  4. Prioritize goals. The outcome of this dialog is in an ordered “to do” list for next year. It is a key element of our 2012 plan.
  5. Identify who will do what and by when. You can have the best plan in the world. It only works if have accountability. Take the time to create milestones and identify everyone involved. The more detailed your 2012 plan, the better your chances of success.

No plan goes without course corrections along the way. We build in quarterly reviews into our process so we can see what is on track and what needs to be adjusted. Sometimes, we abandon activities that we were initially very excited about because we find out that they will not get us to where we want to be financially. The review process helps keep us from drifting.

Try to apply this simple 5-step process at work or in your personal life to create your plan for 2012.  The result will be a more satisfying year full of accomplishments.

For further reading, check out this free ebook: The Naked Business Plan: How to Strip Your Idea Down to the Bare Essentials