The New Year is a fresh start.
The person you were last year no longer exists. All that matters is who you are on New Yearís Day and who you become by the end of the year.
January 1st is a perfect time to make a personal change, but itís also a perfect time for entrepreneurs to make big changes to their businesses.
The 12 resolutions below are for entrepreneurs hoping to help their business thrive in 2012.
#1 Resolve to Finish Every Project You Start
Iíve written previously about how most entrepreneurs have so many good ideas, that it can be difficult finish one project before starting the next one.
Donít make that mistake this year. If you decide to develop a business, commit to seeing it through completely.
#2 Resolve to Start Charging Your True Worth
When trying to get your business on its feet, sometimes you have to charge less than your product or service is actually worth. Itís a good way to gain clientele and experience. But itís not a good way to get rich.
Eventually, youíve got to start charging clients for the actual value that youíre providing.
If youíve been working for less than youíre worth, then 2012 is the year to make a change.
#3 Resolve to Keep a Clean Work Space
Itís hard to be productive in an environment thatís cluttered and disorganized.
Look around your work space right now. If it isnít clean and controlled, then make a commitment now to maintain a focused work space for the next year.
#4 Resolve to Improve Work Systems
When Henry Ford implemented an assembly line in his factories in 1913, he completely revolutionized the automobile industry. By making the production system more efficient, The Ford Motor Company was able to produce more vehicles for less money Ė and profits went through the roof.
A business is only as efficient as the systems it employs.
Some systems are simple, like the way you organize your inbox. Others are very complex, like your step-by-step approach to completing a project over the course of a month.
We often create systems without much thought and then take them for granted once theyíre established. As long as a system works, whatís the point in meddling?
But this is one thing where you really need to put in the extra time and make sure youíre doing things right. Take a step back and look critically at the systems you implement regularly with your business.
Systems are so important because their effect is cumulative. If you improve a system one time, that improvement continues to benefit you every time itís implemented.
If you haven’t paid much attention to your systems lately, then make a point to focus on them in 2012.
#5 Resolve to Be Authentic
People are spending more time online than ever before. By now, theyíre pretty adept at recognizing whoís being genuine and who isnít.
2012 is a great year to tune out the voice in your head that tells you to pretend to be someone youíre not. Instead, communicate online with your authentic voice. People will take notice and respond.
#6 Resolve to Keep Track of Your Hours
How many hours are you putting into your business a week?
Itís not necessary to have a set schedule or to work eight hours every day. Thatís part of the joy of being your own boss. But it is important to be aware of your work hours Ė and four hour days arenít going to cut it (at least not at first).
When you begin to keep track of your hours, you start to understand where youíre time is going and how you could use it more effectively.
If youíre doing freelance work and youíre being paid by the project, this will also help you in pricing your services.
A Time Tracking Tool
There are many applications out there that help you keep track of how youíre spending your time on your computer.
Rescue Time is free software that automatically tracks which programs and websites youíre using throughout the day. Over the course of a few weeks, you begin to get a clear picture of how efficient your computer time is and how it compares to the work habits of others.
At the end of the month, take a look at the data. You may be surprised to realize how much of your time goes to work that doesnít actually you earn you any income (like answering emails or being active on social media).
#7 Resolve to Redesign Your Website
Even if youíre website is up-to-date now, it wonít be in six months. The Internet keeps changing and the most successful online companies will continue to change with it.
Donít risk becoming outdated. Make sure you update and improve your website at least once this year.
#8 Resolve to Eat Right and Exercise
Okay, okay Ė I know these are the two most clichť resolutions in the history of New Yearís. But they’re clichť for a reason.
Eating right and exercising are great resolutions for anyone who operates their own business. It will give you more energy and focus to make the most of your work day.
Of course, it will also make you healthier and it may even help you look better in the bathroom mirror.
#9 Resolve to Spend 20 Minutes Actively Learning Each Day
Solo entrepreneurs must be proficient in many different fields. In any given day, you may work as a designer, marketer, salesperson, and writer.
Thereís not always time to master each of these skillsets. When youíre just starting out, sometimes all that matters is that the task is completed. Whether or not itís completed perfectly is beside the point.
So entrepreneurs tend to become jacks of many trades, masters of none.
The good news is that means thereís a ton of room for improvement. And even if youíre getting by with your current ability-level, honing your skills will make for better and more efficient work.
Thatís why itís such a good idea to spend 20 minutes actively learning every day.
Ways to Learn
This is a great learning solution for the time-crunched entrepreneur. Maybe youíve got a full-time job, run your business on the side, and you donít have 20 minutes to spare.
Pop in a pair of headphones and start learning while involved in an activity that doesnít require your full attention. Suddenly riding the bus, doing the dishes, and exercising are opportunities to become a smarter, better entrepreneur.
While audio is a great learning tool, actually seeing something is often the most effective way to understand it. Thereís simply no substitute for watching a pro as they complete a task, talking you through every step of the way.
In the last few years, a huge number of quality video tutorials have been posted on YouTube. Simply search for a subject, press play, and start learning.
Video isnít the best if youíre just looking for a few bits of essential info. You canít skim a video like a written tutorial. But theyíre an ideal method when you need to sit down and learn a process from front to back.
Ink and paper may be old-fashioned, but a big ďhow-toĒ book is still one of the best learning resources available.
Even if all of the information within its pages is available online, thatís no replacement for having it right there in your hands. You wonít have to search the web for quality instruction and you can take it with you wherever you go.
A 500-page tome can set be pretty expensive, but the cost is small when you think of it as an investment in your business. Check out your local bookstore or Amazon to find a compendium on whatever subject you want to master.
Refresh, then Rest
If you really want to get the most out of your daily lesson, revisit it for a few minutes right before you go to sleep. If you read an informative article, skim through it again. If you learned a new technique in Photoshop, create something simple with it.
Not only will this reinforce what you learned the first time around, the new knowledge will sit at the fore front of your brain as you prepare for sleep.
Sleep is your brainís opportunity to organize and store all of the knowledge it gains throughout the day. So you stand a better chance of actually remembering your daily lesson if you revisit it before you call it a day.
If you resolve to devote a little bit of time to learning every day for the next year, you’ll be see a huge improvement in the quality and quantity of your work by the end of the year.
#10 Resolve to Keep Your Resolutions
Every January, people across the world make resolutions to change the way they act.
Every February, many of those resolutions have been broken or forgotten.
Itís only over the course of the whole year that a change can have any real impact. But if you do stick to your resolutions, they will eventually become habits that will improve your life (and business) for years and years to come.
So, the most important resolution you can make is to really stick with whatever changes you decide to make this year.
Whatís Your Resolution?
Let us know how youíre going to make 2012 the best year yet.
Nick is an American writer, musician, and entrepreneur.
He creates web videos for Income Diary as part of Next Level Ink.
Read about Nick Scheidies here.