I’m just going to say it – new year’s resolutions often don’t mean much.
Don’t get me wrong. I love big-ass goals and resolutions.
But broad resolutions like “this year I’m going to be more grateful” has no real meaning unless you can break it down in to actionable stuff.
So this year instead of broad motherhood statements, I’ve got 52 weekly things smart entrepreneurs need to do this year.
I’ve swiped a lot of these from reading about habits of successful entrepreneurs. (Good news – while that took me about 3 weeks, this article will only take you about 10 minutes to read).
Each month has a theme, and each week has one action based on that theme. While it may be a stretch to do every single one of these for all 52 weeks of the year, even if just a few of these became daily habits – I figured I’d already be a much better entrepreneur.
So 52 weeks, 52 actions – who’s with me? (You can use my list of 52 below, mix up the order or create your own, I don’t mind. Just as long as the world is a better place overall).
Heads up – this post is a share-able. Which means – if you like it, then the best thanks you could give me is to share this post!
Month 1: Get business ready
Week 1: Set business goals.
I don’t just mean big, high level goals like “create a new product”.
Basically we need the deets, peeps! The nitty gritty – when will it happen, what you need, who you need, how many sales you need. Even if you’re normally a big picture kind of person, the dirty work need to be done.
Week 2: Take a snap shot of where your biz is right now
Get your journal, a spreadsheet, your Evernote app – whatever you track stuff in and write down how much money you made in 2013. The jot down four other measurables that are important to you. For example, current number of Facebook followers or conversion rates.
During the months when you feel like you’re getting nowhere, whip out this baby and take a look at the progress you’ve made. It’ll keep you going, I promise.
Week 3: Use to-do lists
Richard Branson uses them. A simple notebook with a list of things to do that he ticks off as they get done. Keeping them in a notebook means you have a running list of everything in the one place.
If it works for Sir Richard, it works for me.
Week 4: Keep track of your money
Where’s your money going, what’s coming in, how much did you spend last week, who hasn’t paid you this month and where can you save.
If you don’t know the answers to these questions, then it’s time to make friends with your accounting system or spend a day with your book keeper or accountant. Remember – this is YOUR money, so get involved.
Month 2: Get productive
Week 5: Wake up 1 hour earlier each day
I can hear the groans already. But Gretchen Ruben (author of The Happiness Project), Tim Cook (Apple), Jeff Immelt (GE) are all said to be early risers.
Late last year I was desperately trying to get a new project off the ground. I had a deadline I wouldn’t make unless I found more hours in the day. So for a month I woke up between 5am – 6am. I got the best, most uninterrupted work done.
I started the day on a pumped, positive note and I even found time to make my daily green smoothies. #winning!
Week 6: De-clutter your office
A productive mind is an organised one.
And organisation starts from your desk. If you can’t find the draft for your new e-book between your phone bill, shopping list or the latest business mag that landed on your desk, it’s time to clean. Sort, file, clean.
Check out some of my favourite home office spaces on Pinterest here (if you have any ideas for office spaces or similar boards – share them in the comments below!!).
Week 7: Delegate (I mean really delegate)
Hands up how many of you entrepreneurs out there have trouble delegating?
This week you’re going to delegate something and give FULL ownership of that to the person you’re delegating to. This could be trusting your assistant more, or trusting hubby to make dinner without burning the pan.
Delegate something so that you can do something bigger with your time.
Week 8: Kick a time-wasting habit
Regular readers know that I have a reality TV show habit. All them Real Housewives, Bachelors, Bride-zillas – they’re the reason why I procrastinate (remember this post on how to overcome procrastination?).
Whatever your secret time-wasting shame is – kick it for a week and see how much more you can achieve.
Month 3: Look after yourself
Week 9: Make time to exercise
Lisa Messenger (all the rage now with Renegade Collective her magazine taking the world by storm) mentioned in a talk I was at, that the one thing she never cancels on are her sessions with her personal trainer.
The lady has a year-old magazine in more than 20 countries internationally AND she looks like a little rock star. So I reckon I’m going to listen to her.
No body = no business. Keep it healthy & strong.
Week 10: Meditate
Meditation stills you, calms you, focuses your thoughts & intentions and helps stress release. And if that’s not enough, Oprah meditates 20 minutes a day. Enough said.
Week 11: Give up a vice
Whether it’s refined sugar, fat, salt, alcohol or deep fried chicken – giving up a vice is good for you. But the greatest satisfaction comes when you know you can exercise enough control to give it up – even if just for a week.
Great entrepreneurs are in control. Even over chocolate.
Week 12: If it’s broke, fix it!
I can’t think of a solo entrepreneur who hasn’t (or isn’t) suffering from some kind of shoulder, wrist, back or muscle strain or injury from working at our laptops and desks.
Investing in a good office chair, desk or on sessions with the physio may be the last thing on your list (lack of time / money) but if it’s broke – do something to fix it this week.
Then you can get on with building your very cool empire.
Month 4: Be a big-hearted entrepreneur
Week 13 – Donate something
Nothing in this world is worth doing if you don’t give back to the world.
Week 13 is all about donating something. Money to a non-for-profit, old clothes or canned goods to the Salvation Army.
Week 14: Volunteer your time
And then there’s nothing like donating your TIME.
Whether you choose to do some pro-bono work for a charity, spend a day in a soup kitchen or simply mow your elderly neighbour’s lawn – give some of your time to someone else who needs it.
It’ll be a huge rush and give you such amazing drive for your work.
Week 15: Do something for mother earth
A wise soul in Bali said to me – give back to the earth for without it we cannot be here. And so this week is all about doing something for this beautiful earth that we’re so blessed to be able to live and do business in.
Plant a tree, recycle or only buy eco-conscious products.
Every little step counts.
Week 16: Research a cause & champion it
The most big-hearted entrepreneurs in the world all have causes they love and champion. Be clear – this is not about ego and wanting to set up the Wendy Mak Foundation (although it would be cool). This is about perspective.
Whatever troubles we’re going through in our biz, there’s always someone else worse off. So research a cause and support it.
(In case you’re interested it my cause is Kiva – to which I donate 5% of all proceeds from my Smart, Savvy & Rich program and after interviewing Chantelle Baxter the co-founder, I also love the NFP One Girl).
Month 4: Upskill
Week 17: Read
Dr. Seuss tells it like it is: “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.â€
So what’s on your reading list this week?
Week 18: Learn something new on social media
Social media’s probably here to stay folks, so even if you don’t like it for your personal use, spend a week just dabbling for your business. Set up a biz Pinterest account (yes they are different to personal accounts) or find out how to use power editor on Facebook – it honestly can’t hurt to know more than less.
Week 19: Take a course
You earn when you learn.
Especially if you’re a first-time entrepreneur, know that there’s always something new to learn.
I look back at my past and I’m blown away by how far I’ve come – from a wide-eyed naive business owner to who I am today. I knew nothing about blogging, newsletters, email marketing, conversions… so take a course and upskill.
[Why not take a minute to check out my Smart, Savvy & Rich 10-week course?]
Week 20: Turn everything in to a lesson.
There’s no better way to learn than to turn everything you can in to a lesson.
Got some feedback from a client? What can you learn from that? Had a bad customer experience in your local cafe? What can you teach your team from that experience?
In everything, there is always a lesson.
Month 5: Love
Week 21: Start with yourself
Passion for life and for your business starts with loving yourself. Exactly just as you are. Not when you have lost 5kgs or when you get a new wardrobe.
This week – write down something you love about yourself daily. Yes – daily.
Week 22: Say thank you
I know we all know how to say thanks – but make this week really count.
Send your employees or best suppliers a hand-written thank you note. Thank your best friend (who has to listen to all your business woes) with a meal out.
I once went on to Linked In to find a mentor who really shaped my values as a business woman, simply to thank him. I hadn’t spoken to him in years – but I needed to thank him properly.
Week 23: Know when the party’s over
Sometimes you can fall out of love, even with your business.
If the passion’s no longer there, know that it’s OK to say “I’m done and moving on to something else now”.
Check in with with your business this week – are there products or even whole businesses where the party’s over?
Week 24: Surround yourself only with people who support you
I don’t mean go all Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction on anyone you feel doesn’t support you.
But if your business suffers because of doubters and haters – then simply stop talking about your business with them (if they’re friends or family) or learn to ignore their comments (if they’re strangers such as Twitter followers).
If they’re not supportive, stop giving them your energy. Practice that this week.
Month 6: Challenge status quo
Week 25: Ask for feedback
Feedback can be scary (“what if they say something I don’t want to hear??”). But feedback challenges us in the best way. It gives us food for thought. It makes us think about how we can improve.
Bite the bullet – ask your customers (or even employees or peers) for feedback.
Week 26: Review processes
Still sending out emails to your database using Outlook? Maybe there there new ways to communicate with your customers! Or improvements in technology that could save you time and money.
Take time this week to review your existing processes and find out.
Week 27: Review your pricing
Ah, this old chestnut.
SO many entrepreneurs don’t review (much less change) their pricing. It’s the same price we’ve been charging for years. Whether you feel like you can’t, are too scared or simply just haven’t thought about it – take a look at your market, where you’re priced at and if it’s time for a change.
Week 28: Is there a better way?
In everything you do – especially if it’s something routine that you’ve done for years – JUST before passing go and collecting $200, ask yourself “is this still the best way to do this”?
Yes? Hit go. No? Stop.
Month 7: Never forget family & friends
Week 29: Call your mum, your grandma, your sister and Aunt Bertha
Running your biz can zap all time from you. You’re up early, working late – you can barely get dinner on the table and the kids to school in one piece – but sometimes you need to show up for great-aunt Zelda’s 80th and remember how much that will mean to her.
Take time out and call someone dear to you this week.
Week 30: Go on a tech-free holiday
True story – I once went to Bali and found myself in an Internet free zone. I had heart palpitations. But I also laughed harder and spent more quality time with my family than I ever had before.
Unplug with your family.
Week 31: Don’t be a grouch
To all our long-suffering partners – this one’s for you.
Sometimes I get snappy when I’m disrupted in the middle of writing. Some days I’m cranky because technology is not my friend. Often we take it out on those closest to us.
So this week (repeat after me) I’m NOT GOING TO BE A GROUCH.
Week 32: Practice being present
If you’re going to be at your kid’s school concert, be present. If it’s your anniversary, be present.
Don’t check your iPhone, stop talking about your biz and just be fully present in whatever you’re doing.
Month 8: Think big
Week 33: Start before you’re ready
It’s often said that it’s better to get something that’s 80% right out there, than nothing at all.
This doesn’t mean start recklessly – but know that when we work on something big – it’s normal to feel uncertain and “not ready”. But as Seth Godin saysÂ â€œthe only purpose of starting is to finish, and while the projects we do are never really finished, they must ship.â€
You can only make a dollar when you actually have a product to ship.
Week 34: Take (calculated) risks
“As long as you’re going to be thinking anyway, think big”, said Donald Trump.
Don’t shy away from stuff. If you’ve done the research and it stacks up – then think big and take the risk.
Week 35: Celebrate small wins
But while you may think big – NEVER forget to celebrate the small wins. It’s good for you, it’s good for your team, and it’s good for morale overall.
This week, go a little cray-cray happy over the teeny tiny wins.
Week 36: The power of two
When Pixar (creator of animated films such as Finding Nemo) merged with Disney, everyone predicted doom. Instead, Disney has benefited from the fresh creativity of films such as Wall-E and Pixar has benefited the experience and power of Disney, and is now able to produce two films a year instead of one plus direct to DVD products.
Two businesses can produce one truly amazing powerhouse, so if you want to grow, do a little research this week for smart collaborations & partnerships.
Month 9: Grow as a person
Week 37: It’s OK to make mistakes
Quote from Catherine Cook, founder of MeetMe, “If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not making decisions.”
BOOM! That is all.
Week 38: Get another perspective
Whatever you want to call this kind of support – coach, mentor, sounding board – an outside perspective can give you enormous clarity and bring huge insights to your management style and business decisions.
Spend some time with a 3rd person and get a fresh, new take on your biz.
Week 39: No pity parties
The reality is, sometimes life is going to hand you a pretty crap deck of cards.
Whatever happens this week, you can either complain, cry, toss the cards on the table and walk away from the game OR you can have a tiny cry (I’m a fan of the pity party with a deadline), put on your poker face and take action to swap those really crap cards for slightly better ones (and then better ones after that, and even better ones after that).
Week 40: Don’t get complacent
There’s nothing sweeter than a win. And while you absolutely should crack open the champs to celebrate success, don’t get complacent. As Babe Ruth said, “yesterday’s home runs don’t win today’s games”.
This week, for every win say “thank you” and then ask “now how am I going to win tomorrow’s game?”
Month 10: Do stuff you (really) don’t like doing
Week 41: Network
Yeah, no one (except for the real extroverts & connectors amongst us) enjoys going to an event without a wing man, then talk shop and work the room. But networking can yield big relationships & opportunities.
So pick your event of choice, blow dry your hair, don’t forget the business cards and network your little tush off.
Week 42: Get rid of the “B” team
No one likes to be a bad cop.
But for the success of your biz, if you’ve been putting off having “that” conversation with a supplier that’s let you down way too many times or even the loser boyfriend – this is the week to take action.
Clear out the cobwebs even though it may be an icky job – then you can let the A-team in.
Week 43: Collect money
Nothing’s more awkward than chasing up clients for unpaid invoices.
Assuming they’re not holding out because they’re unhappy, then dang it – that money’s YOURS sister! Now go get!!!
Week 44: Save
I just said the “s” word.
As Barbara Turley the wealth expert says in my interview with her “save now for more shoes later”. When you’re trying to grow a biz, sometimes you need to sacrifice some shoes to invest in your biz.
Do that and chances are you’ll soon be able to buy all the shoes you want in the future.
Month 11: Believe in yourself
Week 45: Visualise your success
The power of visualisation has huge fans amongst many great entrepreneurs, including Ms Oprah. So much so in fact, she’s created a dream board tool on her website (you’ll have to create an account) to help you visualise your dreams.
Whether you use a whiteboard, stick pictures up on your wall or visualise mentally – start picturing the exact kind of life (and biz) you want for yourself and remind yourself of your dreams daily.
Week 46: Give yourself time
Contrary to the urban myths, true, sustainable success doesn’t happen overnight (even Psy AKA Mr Gangnam Style is no spring chicken, you know what I mean?).
Success comes with time and with building something of real value. Be realistic about the time you need to become successful and stop being your own harshest critic.
Week 47: Stop comparing yourself to others
No really, STOP.
You can spend (waste) a lot of time comparing yourself to others and wondering why you’re not having the same success.
But as the old quote goes “stop comparing your beginning with someone else’s middle”.
After all, your beautiful ending may only be just beginning.
Week 48: The week of “I Can”
All this week – choose to say “I can”, instead of “I can’t”.
Month 12: Plan + Review
Week 49: What went right (or wrong)?
Month 12 is all about reflection and planning.
Take stock of what went right, and what went wrong. Be brutally honest. Give yourself the kudos you deserve but at the same time acknowledge what didn’t and take steps to address them.
Week 50: Start a list of business ideas
Really this should be a year-long exercise, but I know most of us aren’t organised enough to keep a running list for a year. So if you haven’t thought about it yet, make this ideas week.
Take inspiration from anything and everything around you. Look at competitors, read your customer’s feedback or blog comments, jump on to industry websites and see what “chatter” is taking place.
What opportunities can you spot?
Week 51: Make hard decisions
Take a breath. Ask yourself what big decisions need to happen in the new year. Time to resign from your day job? Time to hire your first employee?
What needs to happen in the new year for you to get off on the right foot?
Week 52: You need a break, baby!!
PHEW. I’m exhausted. We both need a break. But what an AMAZING year!!!
It’s time to indulge, and reward yourself. (Shoes anyone??)
Did you enjoy this?
It’s the best thanks you can give me. Mention it on your social media, put a link to it on your site or newsletter, and however you share – thank you from the bottom of my heart.