By Hanan Awaad
It is a new beginning and a great opportunity to take a step back and look at the big picture of our lives and businesses. Some of us lost their trust in new year’s resolutions, but some are still taking the time to critically examine their lives, spot the bad patterns and make decisions to change what is not working.
Before talking about the resolutions, let’s revisit the definition of the word first. The dictionary defines ‘resolution’ as[i]: “the act of resolving or determining upon an action, course of action, method, procedure, etc.”. The definition implies upon a process that we need to engage with before taking a decision. To me, this process is as important as the list that will result at the end. It requires scrutinizing the current situation and to pinpoint where the leaks are in our ship.
This year, I have engaged with my team in an exercise to come up with five business resolutions to reach new destinations and create a new path. Here I share those business resolutions with you. Feel free to use them, modify or change anything that will not work with your particular situation and your personal context.
WORK HARDER AND SMARTER
We heard it over and over, “work smarter not harder.” Everyday, we are bombarded with ads on a new business culture revolves around freedom, working less to gain more and to generate loads of money day in and day out. All these claims are claims. No business that creates a real value operates 4 hours a week. The idea of passive income is not new, many business people throughout the history created income streams that do not link revenue to hours of operation or trading time for money. Simply, they built firms that employed others and created supply chains connecting products and services to end-users.
With today’s severe competition, businesses have to work harder to understand the needs of customers, invest more effort to learn a new skill or more time to craft a new product or service offering. We also need to work smarter to identify what is not functioning in our processes, define bottlenecks and streamline our workflows, and search for new tools, new software or develop in-house solutions to improve the current system and make it more agile and efficient.
BALANCE YOUR FINANCES REGULARLY
In business, everything comes down to a monetary value. Your customer satisfaction will generate repeat business; your employee’s satisfaction creates loyalty to your company and a healthier bottom line. To always get the pulse of your business, keep your eyes on your finances. Your balance sheet is not just a fancy sheet to develop only when you go after funding; it is a monitor that tells you how healthy your business is. Make it a regular habit to visit your balance sheet and see how your expenses produce income. I recommend a monthly monitoring session. This will help you find those unnecessary expenses before they accumulate to a larger amount.
BE CREATIVE AND INNOVATIVE
We mistakenly use the two words interchangeably. Creativity is different from innovation. Creativity is to create a new idea or a new product, but innovation is presenting something new or different. So, in business, to be creative you need to invent or bring out something that you have not produce before. On the other hand, to innovate, you do not need to build something new, but to introduce something new to your clients or within your business. Note that to create something new; you can still work with what you already have, but in a new way.
To be more creative and innovative, you need to learn something new every day. Dedicate time to explore your industry and enable your team to do so. Brainstorm regularly and use mindmaps to discover new relationships between existing parameters and factors.
WORK UP YOUR RELATIONSHIPS
Building relationships are the heart of your business. Connecting with your customers always will give you insights to how to serve them better, and communicating with your team actually will help you as a leader to unify their vision and align their work and effort with the direction you set for your business.
On a daily basis, decide on at least one of your stakeholders to connect with. Your communication does not need to be so formal, in fact, you can learn a lot in a casual conversation more than reading a status report.
EMBRACE YOURSELF AND YOUR TEAM
We all desire to live happily, but we never will do while scolding ourselves always. When you feel the urge to blame yourself, ask yourself, haven’t I done everything I can do? How differently could I handle this situation?
Learn your weaknesses and challenges and set a plan to overcome them. If you need to learn something new, go and learn it; if you require to hire someone with a different skill-set than yours, hire them.
Moreover, encourage your team to live happily. Your team is your workforce, if they are not happy, your business will suffer. Listen to them and provide the support they need. Once you start to create such a culture of attentiveness, they will become more useful.
I believe that we fail in sticking to our resolutions because we develop them in isolation of our business purpose, and we do not take the needed time to link our resolutions to the bigger picture. Take your time and engage actively in a process to clearly define what your business needs and build a system without ignoring all those who are involved.