5 New Year's Resolutions That Will Make You a Better Entrepreneur
The end of the year is a good time to stop and reflect on everything you did last year, and start planning for the year ahead. It’s a great opportunity to take a step back and look at the bigger picture so you can learn from your successes as well as your failures. It may be time-consuming to review the past and plan for the future, but it will serve you well in the long run and help you be a more successful entrepreneur. If you’re wondering where to start, check out the list of resolutions below and make 2015 your best year yet.
- Invest in yourself– Startups are about people. Yes they are also about products, but people are what makes products or services successful. Good entrepreneurs are reactive. They learn whatever they need to know to solve an immediate problem. Great entrepreneurs are proactive; they constantly seek knowledge and strive to learn so they can avoid the same problems good entrepreneurs face. If you want to know what you don’t know, you can start by mapping out your strengths and weaknesses to decide what should be your learning focus for the next year. You can also browse this list of blogs for entrepreneurs that can offer many tips and ideas that will help you pinpoint the skills you need to develop.
- Stop thinking about the money– It may surprise you, but your focus shouldn’t be making a million dollars; it should be serving a million customers (or 100 million if you operate in China). When you don’t have many clients, you are more likely to focus on ways to monetize rather than ways to create a better product or service. This is a quick path to killing your startup. If you make amazing products that people want and need, the money will follow. You can read more about this line of thought in this great post by Dharmesh Shah.
- Make a real commitment to measure everything– Even when it seems everything is running smoothly and you don’t have the time to look at numbers, setting up KPIs and measuring them is a must. You can’t operate only on a short-term strategy—you have to think about the long-term as well. And for that reason, you need KPIs. I won’t go into the full explanation about the importance of KPIs, but I do want you to think about this analogy: running a business without measuring your performance is a bit like driving a car without ever seeing you fuel gauge. For a while everything will seem great…up until the moment you’re stuck on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. I recommend using this blog post or this one to get some initial ideas about what your KPIs should be.
- Find ways to live with uncertainty without going crazy – Someone once told me the first thing you need to do when you decide to be an entrepreneur is to find a good shrink. They weren’t wrong. Entrepreneurs face uncertainty every single day in every aspect of their business, and living with the stress that comes from this uncertainty can be devastating. We are talking about extreme mood swings, frustration, depression, unrealistic stress, and probably a few bursts of anger. If you want to make it through the journey and actually enjoy the fruits of running a successful startup, you need to find ways that will help you stay sane amidst this madness. Some people use stress reduction techniques, like doing sports or meditating. For others, it’s all about achieving mindfulness. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you have a plan and stick to it (or get a good shrink). If you also happen to have an OCD, check out this elaborate guide to managing uncertainty in a startup.
- Make time to help others– I think it was Zig Zigler who said “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” It’s an interesting view on life that you should adopt as an entrepreneur. Having to do more with less will make you realize you need help from others. It can be an intro, an investment, or just good business advice. Whatever the case, you’ll find that other people are a valuable resource. You can call it karma or just being a good person, but this is what makes the entrepreneurial ecosystem a driving force: sharing is caring! And if you are still not convinced helping others is actually about helping yourself, read this.