your business

By Rieva Lesonsky

Do you want 2017 to be a more exciting, inspiring and profitable year for your business than 2016? If you want different results, you need to do things differently. Here are 10 ways to transform your life and your business for the coming year.

  1. Update your technology. There are great deals to be had on tech tools this time of year; why not take advantage of them for your business? Assess what technology would help you do business more effectively in the coming year, whether that’s tablet computers or a software upgrade.
  2. Get organized. Start 2017 off fresh by cleaning out your office. Purging piles and files of paper will make you feel lighter and more focused. Try scanning and saving important documents in the cloud instead. In addition to saving space, cloud storage makes it be easy to access and share what you need.
  3. Take a lesson. Learn something completely new, like how to use Instagram for marketing your business, or delve deeper into a subject you already know something about so you can become a real expert. There are dozens of ways to educate yourself these days, from online tutorials and courses to in-person workshops and conferences. (SCORE offers plenty of each.)
  4. Get outside your comfort zone. Try something that truly challenges you, whether that’s public speaking or skydiving. Yes, skydiving—stretching yourself in your personal life will translate to increased confidence in your business, too.
  5. Broaden your connections. Reach out to someone you admire and invite them to coffee to pick their brain. Reach out to someone you want to do business with to share ideas about how you could work together. Create an advisory circle of other businesspeople and professionals and meet once a month to get advice and inspiration.
  6. Create a BHAG (big, hairy audacious goal). This year, don’t settle for just getting by — dream big. What’s your wildest dream for your business? Write it down; then plan out how you could really achieve it. Even the biggest dreams can become reality when you break them down into small, manageable steps.
  7. Raise your profile. As a small business owner, you are your own best marketing tool. Whether you’re a B2B entrepreneur whose “community” consists of a particular industry, or a B2C entrepreneur whose community consists of your town, get out there and make a name for yourself. A B2B entrepreneur can contribute to the community by speaking or chairing panels at conferences or contributing to others’ blogs. A B2C entrepreneur can contribute by sponsoring local events or getting involved in local charities.
  8. Share the burden. Small business owners have a tendency to take everything on themselves. But no one can “do it all” without burning out in the end. Think about what you can delegate, whether to employees or independent contractors, and do it. Let go of the small stuff so you can focus on what you enjoy doing and excel at.
  9. Take care of yourself. If you’re not healthy, your business will suffer. As a busy entrepreneur, taking care of yourself is easier said than done, but you can do it by making small changes. Get a little bit more sleep, eat a little bit healthier, and move your body a little bit every day.
  10. Get a grip on your finances. Create sales and financial projections for the coming year, and use them to assess whether you might need business financing. If you think you might, start investigating your options now. Check your business’s credit rating and take steps to improve it if necessary. Talk to your bank about what type of financing they offer, and look into alternative financing solutions if you need to.