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There’s about a 50/50 chance you stopped reading after you saw the title. Actually, it’s probably more like 80/20, so I realize I may be writing to a small crowd. Resolutions are rewarding, but they are also incredibly difficult to maintain and often times our spotty track record with New Year’s resolutions can discourage us from giving them another shot. But, what I love about business resolutions, and why I’ve found myself to be more successful with them than with personal resolutions, is that there’s more accountability. Business resolutions are shared with a team and most often affect and involve multiple people.

There is an overwhelming amount of information online about resolutions – why you should create them, methods for keeping them, and more. I encourage you to perform a few searches on the topic.

As you plan for 2015, I hope you will find value in these five resolutions. I believe that each of these can add value to your company and help prepare you for a successful year.

Resolution #1: Know your Story and Tell It

We’ve spent the last few months talking about how important your company’s story is. Time and time again, we’ve found that people do business with people they know and trust.

Every business and organization has a unique story to tell, and it’s likely one you’re quite proud of. Your story is about your company, obviously, but it’s also about your products and your services and how they impact the people who use them.

Your story is what connects you to clients – it makes you memorable, differentiates you, breathes life into your brand, and incites a response from your target market. It can even be the starting point for a new relationship.

So, make an effort to learn to tell your story in 2015 and begin sharing it as often as possible.

Resolution #2: Work on your Business, Not In It

As business owners, we tend to spend all of our time working in our business and very little of our time working on it.

Time management expert and business coach, Dave Crenshaw, contends that devoting five hours a week to working on your business will allow you to (1) reduce emergencies through the creation of systems, (2) create an exit strategy, (3) improve the performance of your team, (4) buy time by focusing on business improvements, and (5) create compounding interest of time, allowing you to work more and more on your business.

As you prepare to work on your business, consider the following actions: re-evaluate your goals, re-align with your vision, re-connect with your team and your community, evaluate your brand and your competition, set an advertising budget, and work on ways to increase productivity through establishing processes and procedures and considering how you can delegate more of your tasks.

Resolution #3: Invest in Relationships

In marketing, we are all about measuring results and we’re constantly discussing ROI. However, if there’s one item of your marketing that provides unmeasurable returns it is investing in relationships. As you seek to grow your business, it’s important to continually invest in those who have an impact on your company’s success. I believe there are four groups that offer that impact:

  • Family and friends – one of the greatest struggles for a business owner is cutting off the lights and leaving work – there’s always something else to be done. Always. The second biggest struggle, after we’ve left the office, is to not work at night and on weekends. There is life outside of work and I believe that healthy relationships with family and friends produce a better work life and increase productivity. Take the nights off, take vacations, and talk less about work when you are enjoying dinner.
  • Your team – a great team produces a great product. If there are unhealthy relationships within your team or if the team isn’t communicating, it will be reflected in the quality of your work and in the level of customer service you provide. In an ideal situation, your team is a part of your family, you meet regularly both individually and as a group, and there is a healthy balance of formal and informal gatherings.
  • Your community – whether you primarily service your local community or provide services on a national level, you should always seek to invest in the community where your business resides. Join the local Chamber, give of your time by volunteering and serving on local boards, get to know your business community and local leaders, and make sure you have a voice in your community.
  • Yourself – lastly, don’t forget about you. Everyone hits a limit of productivity and it’s important for you to be aware of that. Make time to invest in yourself, whether that’s through exercise, diet, learning new things, or enjoying your hobbies. Make sure you are setting aside time for what makes you the healthiest you.

Resolution #4: Establish a Content Marketing Strategy

The big push this past year was content marketing. It’s been a focus for a couple of years, but 2014 could easily be crowned the Year of Content. When you think of your business’ reach online and in the community, content is a critical component. Setting a content marketing strategy may be one of the more time consuming resolutions on this list, but it can potentially yield a very high return. There’s a few things you’ll need to know before setting a strategy, such as your story, your market, and your defining expertise, but once these are established you’ll be ready to establish a strategy and schedule.

Your content marketing should include the use of a company blog, eNewsletter, and social media, and should also consider opportunities to be published in industry magazines. Creating relevant and engaging content each month will provide a sizeable boost to your Search Engine Optimization, improve client retention, and help establish you as an authority within your field.

Resolution #5: Create a “Worst Case Scenario” Plan

What would happen if your office were to catch fire? If your computers crashed or were infected? If one of your key employees resigned? For each of these scenarios, it’s important to have a backup plan. We all understand the value of these efforts but most of the time the task gets lost on a to-do list somewhere. You should have a backup plan for every asset your company has. There are several great, cloud-based resources available to secure your data, software, and computers. When it comes to your team, it’s important to be aware of each employee’s responsibilities and to ensure you have processes and procedures in place for how they complete each aspect of their position.

As 2015 approaches, I believe a focus on these five resolutions will set you up for a productive year.

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