As we settle into 2015, it’s the perfect time for small-business owners to re-evalute old processes and implement new ideas for a happier and more productive year ahead. Here are four goals that every small business owner should set this year:
1. Focus on your employees.
Focus on taking better care of your employees for the year ahead. Keeping employees happy at your company is not only important financially, but it also influences overall office morale. If your employees enjoy coming to work, they’ll be more productive, and that attitude is contagious.
Related: Adopt 4 tactics to turn 2015 into a launchpad for productivity
Ask your employees where they see themselves several years down the road and do what you can to accommodate their desires and goals. Maybe you need to rearrange job titles or project assignments. Additionally, re-evalute your office culture. Look into offering occasional happy hours or team-building activities so your employees can get to know each other better on a personal level.
If you have working parents at your company, consider offering more flexible hours or bring-your-child-to-work policies. Lastly, consider offering or increasing other benefits such as health insurance or even gym memberships.
2. Talk to your customers more.
Customer needs and wants continuously change over time. Your company’s product or service might be on target right now in terms of customer demand, but don’t get too comfortable. This year, make it a goal to talk to more customers. Whether it’s one-on-one conversations, focus groups, or surveys, try to get a better understanding of where the customer mindset will be in the next year.
Once you’ve taken the time to understand your customers better, re-evalute your product or service. Maybe it’s time to make a few small changes to stay ahead of your customer demand. Consider testing new products or services in addition to those that are already working. Maybe offer discounts to get customers to try something new.
Don’t make extreme pivots that will take your business off track. Make sure you’re still able to focus on your core offerings that make your business successful.
Related: The one New Year's resolution all business owners should keep
3. Evaluate your stress levels.
As business owners, we’re always on the go. We rarely work ‘regular’ nine to five hours, and have poured our heart and soul into our companies. But, this constant work mindset can have a negative effect on your personal well-being over time. Evaluate your stress level and consider personal initiatives to make sure that you’ll still enjoy running your business several years down the road.
It’s easy to want to please everyone, but sometimes it’s important to take some time to yourself. Mark off one to two hours a day on your calendar for ‘planned work time’ and stick to it. Don’t schedule any meetings or calls during this time. This gives you a few hours a day to clear your mind and focus on tasks you may have put off in order to help others. Other routines such as lunchtime walks, morning workouts or completely disconnecting for several hours each night can also help you rejuvenate.
As a business owner, even when you are ‘not working’ your mind is still working. By taking time to work out, spend time with your family and making sure you do not burn out, you will start to notice that sometimes you solve your toughest problems on that morning run, or while lying in bed with your 2-year-old as she falls asleep at night.
4. Plan ahead financially.
Of course, it’s always important to plan financially for the year ahead. Without a solid plan that includes a budget, forecast, and goals, it’s difficult to increase sales and revenue over time. Determine where you see your business in six months, one year, and/or three years down the road, and set benchmarks along the way that you need to meet in order to achieve these goals.
Once you have a plan in place, be sure to constantly track your progress. Monitoring key performance indicators daily will help you understand if your financials are on track. If you’re consistently meeting your goals, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that everything is working well. If you’re not meeting goals, constant tracking will help you catch it soon enough to make changes or pivots before your business heads too far off course.
As a business owner, it’s easy to get caught up in the daily operations and tasks that keep your company running. Take some time to re-evaluate your processes and consider changing the status quo. Make resolutions that you can keep and are right for you. A few small changes can really go a long way when it comes to happiness and productivity in the year ahead.
Related: What you celebrate about 2014 can tell you what to focus on in 2015
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This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editor.