Many of us view January 1st as the next chapter. We reflect upon the year that was, contrast that to where we would like to be, and set goals to close the gap between the two. And as any entrepreneur knows, goal setting is essential to progress. New Year's resolutions (albeit a bit arbitrary) serve as an excellent opportunity to construct such goals.
In an effort to help you make 2014 a truly breakout year, I reached out to a handful of entrepreneurs to share their own New Year's resolutions and to include why their resolution (or similar type goal) is important for all entrepreneurs. Their responses are below. Cheers.
22 New Year's Resolutions for Entrepreneurs, from Entrepreneurs
1) Put a higher value on your time
My resolution: I realize this may sound harsh, but my resolution is to FINALLY stop taking meetings where I share my expertise and ideas and am not compensated for doing so.
Why this is important for entrepreneurs: There are several reasons why this is a must including that it devalues your offerings, cheats your existing clients and customers who are paying for such a benefit and takes up valuable time that could have been spent on more pressing activities.
– Susan McPherson, Founder at McPherson Strategies
2) Be more customer-centric
My resolution: Spend more time talking to customers.
Why this is important for entrepreneurs: we often get too focused on building cool products, but that doesn't matter if we don't build what customers want. The only way to ensure we are building truly valuable products is to talk with our target customers and learn what problems they'd pay to have solved.
– Jeff Martens, Co-Founder & CEO, CPUsage
3) Seek inspiration abroad
My resolution: To travel to a new place/country in hopes to be inspired by a different way of life and new individuals.
Why this is important for entrepreneurs: People outside of our routine help inspire entrepreneurs. It’s important to always think outside of the box but also to give yourself some time to recharge and take a moment to yourself. This will help further your work and your business.
– Amanda L. Barbara, VP and founder at Pubslush
4) Find healthy alternatives to manage stress
My resolution: Don't use stress as an excuse for developing unhealthy habits.
Why it is important: From my experience, eating clean and working out led to one of the most productive times of my life. After choosing to go crazy working day and night I got pretty unhealthy, to the point where it affected my performance at work. We can all make excuses for a quick meal at BK or skipping on physical activity while building a company but at the end it comes with a price.
– Juan Bermudez, CTO at NightPro.co
5) Set realistic goals and milestones
My resolution: Instead of setting my ultimate goal on something I am working toward (like taking over the world, muhahahah), my resolution is to break my goal down into achievable milestones.
Why this is important for entrepreneurs: Every step forward becomes another small victory and helps entrepreneurs keep going.
– Jamie Walker, CEO and founder at SweatGuru
6) Spend more time with loved ones
My resolution: My girlfriend has negotiated one weeknight and one weekend day per week that we are doing something together with me not on my computer. As much as I love to work, she is way more cute and charming than I am so I've got no choice but to comply.
Why this is important for entrepreneurs: That time away from direct work is important to maintain relationships with the folks who matter the most. And actually almost every time we step away for the day, something awesome happens with the company, so there's some sort of karmic balancing going on.
– Misha Leybovich, CEO at Meograph
7) Measure success
My resolution: I resolve to follow the lean startup principle of build, measure, learn.
Why this is important for entrepreneurs: As entrepreneurs, it's easy for us to feel too busy to build proper feedback loops into our products, but without ways to measure our success, we are doing little more than shooting in the dark.
– Karim Varela, President at SocialTagg
8) Optimize, not maximize
My resolution: My new year's resolution is to remember that sometimes it is best to optimize, not maximize.
Why is this important for entrepreneurs: We get caught up in “more, more, more” mentality as entrepreneurs and its important to remember that there are some areas in life where maximization is the wrong tactic. From our personal lives to our health sometimes we should remember that less is more.
– Julie Fredrickson, cofounder at Minimum Viable Fitness
9) Connect with your team
My resolution: Spending a day a week where I don't touch my computer in the office. I will spend time with my team instead.
Why this is important for entrepreneurs: When I became an entrepreneur I realized my inbox went up to hundreds of messages daily. It is easy to be absorbed by these and ignore your most important asset – your team.
– Ioannis Verdelis, founder and COO at Fleksy
10) Delegate and encourage
My resolution: I will do more of what I do best, while supporting and encouraging my teammates to do what they do best. And I'll stay out of their way when they're doing it.
Why this is important for entrepreneurs: People will always be much more productive — and much happier — when they feel they are making a meaningful contribution. From a teaming perspective, ‘fixing' weaknesses has a very low ROI when compared to teammates blending their strengths. This is especially important for entrepreneurs because consistent high performance can be a matter of life or death to a startup.
– Dr. Janice Presser, CEO and architect of Teamability
11) Dominate 2014
My resolutions: Fly a plane. Go Paleo. Write 1,000 words per day. Move to San Francisco. Define my belief system. Read 52 books. Give away $3,000,000 in value.
Why this is important for entrepreneurs: Don't waste 2014. We put off fun and adventure for security and comfort, but success finds you when you find yourself.
– Steve Corona, Head of Platform API at Life360 (previously CTO at Twitpic)
12) Learn from the best
My resolution: To read one biography on a successful historical figure (business, politics, scientist) per month
Why this is important for entrepreneurs: Historical figures like Rockefeller, Ford, Carnegie, Tuft, Churchill, Caesar among others were amazing problem solvers. Entrepreneurs can learn from their experiences.
– Aksh Gupta, Founder at Occasion
13) Make memories, everyday
My resolution: To make 2014 the most memorable year of my life, by doing two things: Pushing myself to do a lot of new, adventurous, and challenging things. Using my 2x USA Memory Champion expertise to memorize the following for every single day of the year: (1) One world news event (2) Three significant life events (3) My location and the weather
Why this is important for entrepreneurs: Life can often become forgettable and move at lightening speed. All of a sudden it will be 2015 and 2014 will feel like a blur. I want to prove to myself (and the world), that it is possible to remember what you did every single day of a complete year by making the effort to care and by making life purposefully more interesting. This is an attempt to inspire others to value their memories and to realize that every moment, no matter how big or small, is worth remembering because it will define us as we age.
– Nelson Dellis, CEO & founder at Climb For Memory
14) Live in the now
My resolution: When I'm not working, don't work!
Why this is important for entrepreneurs: As an entrepreneur I'm always working, or thinking about work, even when I'm trying to relax or socializing with friends. When I not working, I should pay attention to things around me, girlfriend, friends, family, the beach etc, and enjoy being in the moment. Work will always be there.
– Mark Okoh, cofounder at Fingertip Maestro
15) Treat yo' self
My resolution: I want to contribute a fixed percentage of my paycheck weekly to a personal fund that will be used by me to treat myself to something fun or nice every week.
Why this is important for entrepreneurs: I work a full-time job in order to fund my startup. I put my own living expenses and personal needs second to my company—at one point, I was sleeping on a couch in a friend’s living room to cut costs even though I had a salary that could afford me a condo in downtown San Francisco. While giving up luxuries is often necessary to allow your startup to grow, neglecting your own well-being and personal needs is unhealthy and will have negative affects in the long run, such as creating resentment and unhappiness with your company. You burn out quicker, and your startup fails as a result. I think it’s ok to be selfish sometimes. I find that when I’m healthy and happy, I work better.
– Natasia Malaihollo, CEO at Sooligan
16) Don't lose sight as to why you became an entrepreneur
My resolution: 1. Do not lose sight as to why I started this business 2. The reason better not be self-serving, but for customers 3. Refine, repeat and reaffirm (1) and (2)
Why this important for entrepreneurs: Too many entrepreneurs start companies for the wrong reason. Focus on solving a problem for a group of customers and getting them real value.
– Sudy Bharadwaj, cofounder and CEO at Jackalope Jobs Inc.
17) Read, read, read
My resolution: As much as I want “getting my body in shape” to be my goal for 2014, this year I'm going to challenge myself to get my mind in shape for 2014. “How do you get your mind in shape?!” Easy. You read, read, and read some more. I set a pretty easy goal for myself this upcoming year to read at least 5 books, but I hope to blow that out of the water.
Why this is important to entrepreneurs: This quote serves to be more than enough of a reason to put down the TV remote and pick up a book instead: “In my whole life, I have known no wise people who didn't read all the time — none, zero. You'd be amazed at how much Warren(Buffett) reads — at how much I read. My children laugh at me. They think I'm a book with a couple of legs sticking out”.” ― Charles T. Munger
– Shahzil (Shaz) Amin, CEO at Blue Track Media
18) Celebrate the team
My resolution: This year, I'm going to make sure to tell my team how happy I am to be working with them. It's easy to forget how lucky we are and only focus on the challenges.
Why this is important for entrepreneurs: Because to get to the goal, it's equally as important to celebrate the ‘wins' as it is to recognize the ‘losses' and the only people that can truly celebrate are the people who have experienced both with you.
– Ben Hindman, CEO at Splash
19) Mind your cash flow
My resolution: I resolve to manage cash flow like water from the Sahara.
Why this is important for entrepreneurs: This is important to entrepreneurs because cash flow management is a vital aspect for the health of every company. Cash is king in the Internet business and positive cash flow management will speak volumes when presented to investors, customers, and partners.
– Jonathon Lunardi, CEO and cofounder at Military JOB Networks Inc.
20) Implement block tasking
My resolution: Start block tasking–in other words, allocate specific days and blocks of time during the week for creative work versus email management, versus meetings, etc.
Why this is important for entrepreneurs: I saw a Harvard economist speak recently, Sendhil Mullainathan, on the topic of scarcity. For people who are not impoverished (literally, and I don't mean broke entrepreneurs), the item that is scarce is our time. We multi-task or so we think we can, but ultimately, the best way to spend our time and get the most out of effort and selves is through block tasking. So, I resolve to carve out larger chunks of time (even days) for different types of tasks, rather than think I can do everything back to back in the same day. I'm hoping understanding my biology will lead to a more beautiful and productive, inspired life.
– Erica Berger, Chief Curator at Mileage (media) and freelance journalist
21) Have more tough conversations
My resolution: My resolution is to have a difficult conversation once a week. This doesn't mean I'm going to pick fights. But I've learned that running a small business requires a willingness to have the tough conversations: with your team, with clients, with peers, and even with the blogosphere. The good news is, the more I do it, the easier it becomes, so in 2014 I'm not going to shy away from confrontation, conflict, or uncomfortable conversations. I'm going to tackle them head on.
Why this is important for entrepreneurs: If you can't face what makes you nervous or uncomfortable, how can you possibly grow a business? Having productive difficult conversations is a learned skill, even a sort of muscle worth training. Think of the toughest work conversation you've had this year. Imagine if you could just walk away from it, learn from it, and move on. That's a powerful and worthy goal for any entrepreneur.
– Morra Aarons-Mele, Founder at Women Online
22) To-do, tomorrow
My resolution: Over year-end margaritas, my friend Leslie Zaikis told Anna Curran and me about an experiment done at Ford back in the 1920s that radically increased performance. At the end of each day, workers wrote down the three most important tasks for the following day. That's it. We raised our glasses and said: “Let's do it!” And for the first month, Anna, Leslie, and I are emailing our lists to each other every night, to hold each other accountable and turn this resolution into a habit.
Why this is important for entrepreneurs: Seriously, what do entrepreneurs love more than increased productivity? (We toast to it with margaritas!) Getting friends involved to cement it into a habit just sweetens the deal.