Every year, I create a list of my small business new year’s resolutions. I think of these as a way to focus priorities for the coming year. I invite you to join me as you face 2022 in your small business.
Before I drew up this year’s list, I went over some of the lists I made in prior years. In particular, I looked back 20 years—to my intentions for 2002.
“The word for 2002 is unpredictable,” I wrote 20 years ago. If you’re old enough, you may remember that a mere three months before the US had been attacked on 9/11, the US economy was still reeling, and a recession had set in. In fact, I named my list “Rhonda’s Resolutions for an Unsettled Time.” Seems appropriate now, doesn’t it?
Certainly the word “unpredictable” applies to 2022. We’re still deep in the midst of a world-shattering pandemic. We see inflation on the horizon. We’re not even sure if workers will come back into offices or customers into stores or restaurants.
Chins up, fellow small business owner. We entrepreneurs are optimistic—we got through the tough times of 2002, and we’ll get through these times too.
Here’s a list of new year’s resolutions for my and your small business—first the ones I’ve added this year—and then ones from 2002, that are still applicable today.
1. Support small businesses
That’s top of my list because it’s so important. All of us have to stick together as we face increasing competition from gargantuan online retailers or rapacious internet platforms that take ridiculously high percentages of sales from small restaurants or suppliers. Put your money where your heart is, and support your local small business.
2. Do the most important thing first
This is one of my most important personal resolutions. Like most small business owners, I’m overwhelmed by all the different items I have to attend to in a day. So I resolve to identify my highest priority each day, and tend to that first thing.
3. Get even better at technology
If the last two years have taught us anything, it’s that every business depends on tech. Ecommerce took a giant leap forward—you have to jump with it. And remote work is now the norm. You need to know—or hire people who know—how to best use technology.
4. Remember the important people in your life
Do something nice for the people around you: Thank employees, referral sources, and suppliers more often. Take your spouse, family member, or friend to a thank you dinner. Spend a special weekend with your kids as “honored guests” to recognize the sacrifices they make for your work.
And the 2002 new year’s resolutions that are still critical today?
5. Watch your cash
That was critical in 2002, and it’s still got to be top of mind today. Nothing makes you more secure, more able to respond to changing conditions than money in the bank. Send out invoices promptly, be careful about expenses; cut back on non-essentials.
6. Stay in touch with customers
One of Rhonda’s Rules: “It’s cheaper to keep an existing customer than to find a new one.” Make sure you’re communicating directly with customers on a regular basis. It’s easy to spend a huge amount of time on social media, but that may not be the best way to nurture relationships. Send out newsletters, drop key customers an email, make calls, take important customers to lunch.
7. Cut down your energy use
In 2001, the cost of energy skyrocketed, so 20 years ago, this suggestion was primarily to save money. Now, it’s to save our planet. In 20 years, we’ve seen more devastating impacts of climate change—more hurricanes, wildfires, sea levels rising. Even small businesses must do their part to reduce energy consumption and waste.
8. Prepare for emergencies
Due to climate change, you’re more likely than ever to face a weather-related emergency. But Covid showed that emergencies can come out of the blue. Prepare your business to be able to continue to operate in most any emergency, by using cloud-based applications, backing up data, having disaster plans. And keep good financial records! You’ll need them if you ever need to seek government help.
Whatever resolutions you make for your own business in 2022, I wish you a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year!
Copyright Rhonda Abrams, 2021
This article originally ran in USA Today on December 29, 2021