2021 is now well underway – which, sadly, means we aren’t too far away from the time when many New Year’s resolutions are given up on. These resolutions always start well and with good intentions – but they almost inevitably fade away after a few weeks.
This is because we often set goals that are too vague or not easily measurable. We then lose interest, become disheartened, and go back to the ways we’re more familiar with. But if you want your business to really grow, you’ve got to clearly articulate your goals and sketch out your path to achieving them.
When it comes to your business, especially if it’s a small business, the beginning of a new year is an important time to refocus and recalibrate. It’s the perfect time to renew your efforts to grow your company by using what you learned last year, and also trying new ways to level up your game!
To help you nail Q1 of 2021, we’ve compiled a list of simple, effective tips and habits to help small business owners better utilize their time and resources personally, professionally, and in their inner circles and communities.
Implementing these habits can help you feel less overwhelmed, and provide you with more energy to put back into your business. They’ll also make you a better leader, both in the office and in your wider community. Combine all of this, and you’ll be well on your way to setting yourself up for success.
Where (and when) better to start than at the very beginning!
People traditionally see January as a month full of post-holiday blues. But, it can actually be the most exciting month of the year!
The new year brings us a chance for renewal and limitless potential. There really is no time like the beginning of the year to make plans and set specific, measurable goals for the months ahead.
Those goals will differ from company to company, but there are some overarching principles that hold true for nearly all of us.
We hope these tips will help get your Q1 off to the most productive start yet:
#1: Define Your Work-Life Balance
Make 2021 the year you really show up for your family, your friends, your colleagues and yourself.
With so many people now working remotely, it’s important that you make time to log off and be fully present in the life you have outside of work. This doesn’t necessarily mean strictly working 9-5. It means working out the right balance so you can prioritize food, sleep, exercise, time with family and friends, and time for yourself.
A great way to define your balance is to leverage tools like calendar blocks. If you need to be offline to make your kid lunch or take your cat to the vet, then take that time and let your team know you’re stepping away. Adapt to more flexible hours if feasible, and most importantly, ask for help when you need it. Remember, many of us may be working remotely, but that doesn’t mean that we have to go it alone!
#2: Take Care of Your Body
It has always been important to exercise regularly – but maybe now more than ever. With so many people forced into working remotely, many of us have lost out on our daily walk to work or our post-office gym visit. Step counts are likely at an all-time low.
In order to reach any of your goals, you must first pay attention to your own needs. Regular exercise not only gives you obvious physical benefits, it also improves concentration, enhances mood, increases creativity and minimizes stress.
Exercise looks different for each of us – so whether you want to get out for a walk during lunch, go for a pre-dinner run, or do a home workout in the morning – be sure you set aside enough time to make it enjoyable and worthwhile.
#1: Make a “First-Things-First” List
Research shows that focusing on high value tasks gets you to your goals faster than busywork.
Making a list of the most important things that you want to do allows you to identify your high-value deliverables and work towards them. Sticking to this list will keep you from getting distracted by less important tasks like checking social media, reading articles and so on.
Successful business owners know how to turn off distractions and zoom in on the work with the highest payoff first.
There are so many things to do when running a small business, that it’s easy to fall into thinking YOU need to do all of them. This inevitably leads to you becoming tired, frazzled and with no time to do anything else.
Keep an eye on where the majority of your efforts are spent and make sure you concentrate on your most important tasks. Do you have the luxury of a team? Be sure to leverage it!!
Delegation is the key to an energized team and healthy work-life balance. A good leader understands the value in giving their team stretch goals and growth opportunities. This won’t just give you back more time to tackle those big rocks, it will also help your team to upskill and excel.
“Founders are always taking on new things, but I find that the more I delegate, the more I enable my team to learn new skills. Meanwhile, I gain back time to focus on growth.”
– Sandeep Todi (CoFounder, Remitr)
#3: Invest In “Deep Work”
We’ve all had days where we’ve worked long hours without a real break, only to end up feeling like we’ve achieved less than we’d hoped. If your approach to work focuses only on hours spent being busy, this can lead to slower progress and greater frustration. In 2021, let’s leave those days behind!
The most successful teams and leaders prioritize deep work. This means spending uninterrupted time focusing on the task at hand. To achieve deep work, you’ll have to block out time for your priorities, turn off notifications and make yourself unavailable. It can feel difficult initially, but trust us – you can do it.
Deep work isn’t just for you. It can also benefit your team immensely. You can set them up for success by making clear the priorities and tasks required of each of them. When these have been outlined, it’s then crucial that you enable them to focus on executing those tasks.
Provide your team with the tools and the time to do what needs to be done. This will improve the quality of their work output, and produce a motivated team with a higher level of accountability and ownership.
#4: Make Your Meetings More Productive
Before you schedule that meeting, set an agenda. Then, when you’re in the meeting, do your best to stick to it!
When you stick to your agenda, you help to prevent one of the biggest progress killers around: scope creep. There’s nothing more demoralising to a busy team than watching a single, clearly articulated deliverable turn into five vaguely sketched out to-dos.
An agenda lets everyone know exactly what’s expected, when, and for how long. This helps both you and your team to come prepared with questions, solutions, and requests for feedback.
Once you’ve begun practising deep work, you’ll find it puts a premium on your time. And using your time efficiently benefits both you and your team.
Inner Circle & Community
#1: Join a Networking Group
There may not be many in-person gatherings in Q1 of 2021 (thanks, COVID), but that doesn’t mean you can’t get yourself out there and network.
Whether it’s a group on LinkedIn, Facebook, Clubhouse, or through an organisation in your city – there’s a networking group for you somewhere. Find it, and join – you won’t regret it.
Not only can joining a networking group help you find other owners to learn from, it’s also a great way to get out of that echo chamber and meet potential new customers, partners and employees!
“Not being able to meet people face to face is an opportunity to network far and wide and build more authentic relationships – not less!”
– Kanchan Kumar (CoFounder, Remitr)
#2: Give Back to Your Community
Nothing grows goodwill for your business quite like supporting your local community. Plus it’s a responsible and personally rewarding thing to do.
Make this the year that you join a committee, serve as a mentor, volunteer, or make regular donations to the groups in your community that make the place you live better.
Find a cause that matters to you and give what you can, whether it’s a donation or time spent volunteering.
There are other ways to get behind your community too – like shopping local!
A strong January is a great start , but it’s vital you continue to stay on top of things as we move into February and closer to achieving that awesome Q1.
Check back soon for more tips to ensure you keep the momentum going – or sign up for our newsletter and we’ll make sure you don’t miss a beat.
February – Coming soon…!