Perhaps it’s cliche, but at the close of every year it is natural to look back on your wins and losses and wonder how you can improve on your record for the following year. With that in mind, I’ve created a list of 5 New Year’s resolutions for entrepreneurs, complete with tips and tools to help you achieve these resolutions. Let me know in the comments if you can think of any additional tips and tools.
1. Increase your productivity.
If you’re an entrepreneur, you’ve probably got a lot on your mind all the time. But focusing on the right things will get you where you need to go a lot quicker. For me, that means knowing how I’m spending my time while I’m online. I use an app called RescueTime which logs the time I spend anytime I’m at my computer, and at the end of the week it tells me what my efficiency is, and by looking at the data, it’s easy to see where all your time disappears. A great tool.
2. Promote yourself online.
You know you have to do it, but if you’re like me, you’re probably looking for a shortcut. The bad news is, there is no shortcut. You simply have to commit a certain number of hours each day or week, and in that time, spend it on whichever form of media you choose. For me, I go with Twitter, blogging, and leaving comments on relevant blogs. If you spend five hours a week on this (an hour a day) over the course of a year, you’ll be amazed at the difference you see in your traffic, especially through longtail keywords (if you’re blogging anyway).
3. Increase your efficiency.
Not to be confused with productivity, efficiency is doing the tasks you can do better than anyone else, and delegating everything else. For some, this means hiring a personal assistant (or an online personal assistant, as Chris Hardwick showed us in this Wired article). You can follow Tim Ferris’ lead and cut the time you spend doing busy work way down, as he shows how in the Four-Hour Work Week.
If you own a service based business, there are a lot of tools out there. We’re going to toot our own horn here, as OpenCal is a great option for businesses that sell their time. Online booking means you are open 24/7, it frees up time spent on the phone and increases your visibility online, all in one go.
4. Analyze your customers.
I learned this one from Duct Tape Marketing by John Jantsch. No matter your business, you can make it better if you understand your customers and know why they chose you over the many other available options. If you’re in a business that’s based offline, it can be as simple as getting out a map and dropping pins on it to see what you can learn. If you’re online as we are, try going deeper than Google Analytics (which is a great, free tool to start). We use Sunny Trail to track conversions but there are a lot of great options out there such as KISSmetrics or HubSpot.
5. Follow the money.
Building on the last resolution, the more you know about your cash situation the better. Depending on the type of business you’re in, you can use tools like InDinero to get a better idea of where you stand and to know about the health of your business. While it’s great to have the somewhat specialized financial knowledge of an MBA, I learned a lot of very relevant metrics from Joel York’s Chaotic Flow, particularly from this post. If you’re using a SaaS model, you need to know these kinds of numbers to know where you are and where you’re going.