Small Business: Making New Year's resolutions stick

Making resolutions for improving business in the new

Making resolutions for improving business in the new year is the easy part. Getting them to stick takes determination and accountability, experts say. (Credit: iStock)

Jamie Herzlich

Newsday columnist Jamie Herzlich Jamie Herzlich

Herzlich writes the Small Business column in Newsday.

bio

It's New Year's Eve and by now many entrepreneurs have already made their list of resolutions for the coming 12 months. For most, the list starts off very ambitious but quickly falls short as soon as the New Year begins.

Making resolutions is the easy part. Getting them to stick takes determination and accountability.

"Commitment is a very big thing," said Rita Maniscalco, a Huntington career, life and business coach and past president of the Long Island Coaching Alliance, which provides support, continuing education and professional development to local coaches. "It has to start all the way from the top."

Creating a list of goals and resolutions is no good without incentives and a strategy to implement them, she said. The entire team needs to be engaged.

1. Motivation and a plan. Creating a financial-incentive program for staff is one of the best ways to motivate them. Establish monthly goals, quarterly goals and an ultimate annual goal. Once they achieve each goal, they're given a financial incentive, said Maniscalco, noting there should also be a "stretch goal" so people don't become complacent once the goal is reached. "They [the goals] should be challenging but achievable," she said.

Each employee also should be paired with an accountability partner who could be a source of brainstorming and support, Maniscalco said. There should be clear deadlines as to when certain goals should be met and action items that need to be accomplished in order to achieve those goals, said Andrea Feinberg, president of Coaching Insight Llc in Port Jefferson Station, a business-coaching firm targeting professional women shifting from employment to business ownership.

And emotions should be engaged, she said. "You want to feel the highs of achievement and the depression of not getting it done," said Feinberg, who works with entrepreneurs on goal-setting and achievement.

If you achieve the goal, think about what you'll be able to do that you weren't able to do before. And if you don't achieve it, what will it prevent you from doing, she said. Look at it both from an emotional and financial standpoint, she said.

2. Articulate reasons for goal. Be able to tell a compelling story on what the achievement of that goal means to all those impacted, said Mary Lore, author of Managing Thought (McGraw-Hill; $24.95) and chief executive of Managing Thought Llc, a Michigan business consultancy.

For instance, if your goal is to hit $1 million in sales this year, how does that make a difference in the lives of the organization, employees, customers, suppliers, investors, community? And be able to articulate that, she said.

"It's key your resolutions and goals are inspiring," said Lore.

Also keep them in the present tense and make affirmative statements. Instead of saying, "I hope to reach $1 million in sales," say, "We are reaching a million in sales," she said. That moves it into the present tense and an intention, Lore explains.

When you catch yourself thinking, saying or doing something contrary to your goal/resolution, don't blame, judge or criticize yourself, she said. Instead, simply rethink, re-say, or redo it the way you intend, said Lore.

3. A steady pace is key. And don't try to tackle too much at once. "I think I would lean toward fewer goals" than a whole laundry list, said Roger Kahn, president of Champion Office Suites in Garden City, which offers virtual office services and executive office suites.

Khan makes resolutions/goals at the end of each year and this year was able to accomplish a few, including signing a sublease to take additional space in Garden City. "I put together an outline of my goals for the year and break them down into quarterly actions," said Kahn, who also assesses what he needs to do weekly to meet each quarter's goals.

As each goal is finished, he may add a new one, he said. "The key is constantly revisiting them," he said.

Making SMART goals

S for specific

M for measurable

A for achievable

R for realistic

T for timeframe

Source: Rita Maniscalco