Entrepreneurs should urge themselves to think differently about New Year resolutions for their business and strive to remain steadfast in attaining in achieving these, says Alison Lungu, Country Manager at Business Partners Zambia (BUSINESS/PARTNERS).
“The lives of entrepreneurs differ from those of employees in the sense that their work is never done. There is always that idea that needs to be taken off the back burner, several pitches to prepare, neglected systems to fix and formalise, the next contract to win, and an inbox that never stays empty for long. In such circumstances, it is good to use any opportunity to pause, no matter how brief, step back, evaluate, renew and tighten resolve."
Lungu says that for most entrepreneurs, the beginning of a new year is an opportunity for this type of exercise and explains that it needn't be a sprawling review of all business elements that most entrepreneurs tend to avoid.
He suggests structuring the evaluation exercise into a checklist of five areas into which business owners can delve as deeply as they need to:
- Revisit your business model: All business owners should reconsider their value proposition which, in essence, addresses how they create, capture and deliver value in an ever-changing market. New technologies are developed, new competitors emerge, clients' preferences and tastes change, and demographics shift. The way in which you do things can therefore become sub-optimal very quickly. You don't need to turn your business model on its head, as very often all it needs are small changes and incremental improvements to better the value proposition and operating model.
- Check your control levers: This is the one New Year's resolution that business owners cannot afford to overlook. Whether you are in control of your business is directly related to how well you use your financial statements as a management tool. How you control your cash flow, whether you can meet your payment deadlines, how you handle your creditors and debtors, and whether you are getting a return on your investment, are all fundamental questions linked to your use of financial statements.
- Check your team: In owner-managed businesses, the entrepreneur is the single most important worker, but very often they impede the growth of the business because they try to do too much. It is therefore good for entrepreneurs to review the balance between their own workload and that of their team of workers. Ideally, a business owner needs to build a loyal team of talented individuals with whom they can work amicably, but who are also not afraid to push back when necessary. Finding such people, and being able to afford them, are however much easier said than done, but it is an aspect of business that requires regular attention.
- Connect and reconnect with your network: The large numbers of contacts that business owners build up, even if they don't network consciously, is enormously valuable but seldom mined. The secret lies in following up, which can be as easy as picking up the phone to say hello and to meet for a quick coffee or breakfast. Modern social media can also be harnessed to take much of the hassle out of staying in touch too.
- Get your work-life balance right: It is no secret that entrepreneurs tend to lean over very far towards the work side of the work-life balance. Perhaps less known, but really plain to see, is how an entrepreneur's neglected home life can come back to bite the business. No review of a business is complete without a careful look at the work-life balance of the entrepreneur. Set a minimum amount of time for family, friends and self-indulgence, and try to stick to it.
“While many people have made various resolutions for 2018, yours, as an entrepreneur, may be a little different to others. It is worth your while to ensure that the resolutions are feasible and reasonably challenging as you embark on the 2018 business journey," concludes Lungu.