By Rieva Lesonsky

Have you ever tried to start a fitness regimen and not been able to carry it off? That’s happened to a friend of mine for, oh, decades now. She constantly talks about getting in shape and starts new fitness plans, but nothing ever really “took.”

Recently I ran into her and was amazed to see she looked totally different. Finally, her fitness efforts had paid off. When I asked her how she had finally succeeded, she told me she had made one little change: Instead of planning to work out at the end of the day, she started working out first thing in the morning. That one small change made all the difference.

What she said made a lot of sense to me. As most of us entrepreneurs know, it’s easy to have good intentions about doing something at the end of the day. But once you get into your workplace, it’s one thing after another. You’re so busy answering questions, dealing with customers, talking to your team and putting out fires that you lose track of time, and before you know it, the day is over. It’s no wonder my friend rarely made it to her workout. But by making one little change, she was able to ensure she got in some exercise every day—before anything else got in the way.

It’s the same way with your business. Often, making one small adjustment will have huge results. Even if you don’t have a business yet, but are just thinking about entrepreneurship, making one little change might be all it takes to make 2012 the year you really start your business (instead of just talking about it for another year).

What small changes could you make that will have huge results? Here are some ideas for startup business owners:

  1. Take the time you normally spend watching TV each week (sorry, American Idol) and dedicate it to researching your business idea, writing your business plan and moving ahead with your goals.
  2. Wake up an hour earlier and spend that time working on your business idea.
  3. Commit to taking one small action a day toward your business dream. That could be something as simple as looking up where you need to go to get a business license. The key is to take one step every single day.

And here are some ideas for existing business owners:

  1. Spend an hour each week thinking strategically about your business goals and assessing your progress in achieving them.
  2. Start following up on overdue payments the day they’re overdue and making a plan for how and when those clients will pay you.
  3. Commit to learning one new business skill a month, whether it’s how to use Twitter or how to read your financial statements. Then put that skill to use in your business.

Is there one small change you can make in your business that will make a big difference for the New Year?