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Updated 18 Oct 2019


15 New Year’s resolutions successful entrepreneurs make (and keep)

Successful entrepreneurs always strive to do better. You can become a better version of yourself with these business-focused resolutions. 


Nicole Crampton , 05 January 2017  Share  0 comments  Print


All the answers to your unique business lifestage questions

Content in this guide

  1. Don’t force a change
  2. Be more determined
  3. Make those mistakes
  4. Find your (real) purpose
  5. Be happier
  6. Don’t be afraid to fail
  7. Embrace time with loved ones
  8. Have unlimited enthusiasm
  9. Find (more) joy
  10. Let inspiration strike
  11. Lighten up
  12. Build better habits
  13. Get Busy
  14. Create self-improvement rituals
  15. Look for potential

A new year has dawned. The beginning of a new year is a good time to reflect on the year that’s passed. Tallying all the improvements you’ve made both personally and professionally, as well as everything you planned to do but never quite manage to fit in should happen now.

For entrepreneurs, identifying new resolutions for the upcoming year can be a challenging task because it takes time to self-reflect and determine what you want to improve on. There are many famous, wise and successful entrepreneurs who are or have been in your position too. Here are their top fifteen New Year’s resolutions that you should consider to become a more successful business person: 

1. Don’t force a change

Jeff -Bezos

Instead of pushing yourself into doing something you were never meant to do in both your personal and professional life, consider what is important to you. Stay true to yourself and don’t allow others to sway you into learning something, pivoting your business or changing any part of who you are that you are comfortable with already.

Change for change’s sake can be just as detrimental to yourself and your business as digging in your heels when you should embrace change.

Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, says: “One of the huge mistakes people make is that they try to force an interest on themselves. You don't choose your passions; your passions choose you.”

Do this:

Find the balance between change and stability. There can be aspects of yourself and your business that you can change to improve, but don’t change vital, successful habits or departments because you feel pressured to constantly change. You don’t need to change everything all the time to remain innovative and cutting-edge.

Related: 4 Things no one tells you about entrepreneurship

2. Be more determined

As an entrepreneur, you have to have the determination to see ‘it’ through to the end.  You have to never give up and be the last man or woman standing when everyone else has fallen by the wayside.

But, you do need more than just determination. Traits such as vision for the future, passion to motivate yourself and others, as well as savvy and good instincts to build and grow your business is also important. What binds these qualities and skills together is the tenacity to stick with the day in and day out, year after year.

Diplomat and military veteran, Colin Powell says: “A dream doesn't become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination, and hard work.”

Do this:

A successful company has no end point. The goal is to keep overcoming obstacles, growing sales, and making money. The prospect of continuing the march towards the horizon indefinitely is daunting to most. However, there are a few who find the notion intoxicating, to the point that they can’t wait to get up every morning to get to work and deal with the path they’ve chosen. These are, arguably, the true entrepreneurs of the world.

3. Make those mistakes

Albert -Einstein

An entrepreneur by nature should be the least deterred by failure. You should view a lack of success as a temporary downward trend necessary to reach that next upswing. Mistakes help you learn, then you can adjust and try again.

Don’t be dissuaded from trying something new because of a fear of failure or making a mistake. Often the most innovative designs come from a mistake or an unusual collaboration. Each time you make a mistake you learn more about your business and yourself but mistakes should never impact your level of optimism for what the future holds, otherwise you won’t succeed.

Albert Einstein said: “A person who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”

Do this:

Try things out. You can be cautious, but keep in mind the faster you progress, the faster you succeed. On the other hand, don’t blaze ahead without a plan or without researching the risks. Try out new concepts in a controlled environment or with few risks in play, to ensure success. However, if it still fails find out why and then strive to try again.

4. Find your (real) purpose

Finding your purpose could be a daunting New Year’s resolution. After all, if we knew what our life’s purpose is there would be far fewer unhappy people in the world. You don’t need to uncover the meaning of your life, just better understand what is important to you and capture it to help you navigate through the New Year

Steve Jobs said: “Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

Do this:

When times are tough, it’s important for your motivation and productivity to tap into your original passion that drove you to initially start your company. Maybe you wanted to create something original, or maybe you wanted to make it easier, faster, and/or cheaper for people to do something.

You started your entrepreneurial journey because you wanted to share something with the world and make a difference. When work or personal stress and negativity are dragging you down, take a step back and remember that initial spark of driving force that started you on this journey.

5. Be happier

“Be happy” is easy to say, but not easy for everyone to do. When you’re passionate about what you do, it’s harder to not take every critique personally. As an entrepreneur, bad news and rejection is part of your day-to-day and you need to learn to roll with the proverbial punches.

You can’t waste time wallowing in each rejection or focusing on a single negative comment. Most importantly, by staying objective you can learn valuable lessons in order to create a better product or smoother pitch.

Talk show host and comedian, Johnny Carson says: “Never continue in a job you don't enjoy. If you're happy in what you're doing, you'll like yourself, you'll have inner peace. And if you have that, you will have had more success than you could possibly have imagined.”

Do this:

If you love your daily work, if you love what you do, then you can find a way to be happy before and after you achieve your goals. Learn to love the process of what you’re doing and don’t focus on the seemingly unattainable goal. This will help you to find happiness in your work while keeping you driven.

Related: Entrepreneurship stats in South Africa 

6. Don’t be afraid to fail

Coco -Chanel -logo

The fear of failure is something many entrepreneurs have to deal with when starting out. This fear makes it hard to take on challenges; even calculated risks.  But, as you can see in point three above, not all failure is bad.

Consider failing as part of your research and development process, you can learn from it and use that knowledge to make better, more informed decisions moving forward.

Coco Chanel says: “Success is often achieved by those who don’t know that failure is inevitable.”

Do this:

Redefine what failure means to you, because if you view it as losing your business, you’re probably not even going to attempt to start one. Many entrepreneurs, athletes, scientists and inventors consider the only real way to fail is to stop trying.

7. Embrace time with loved ones

Don’t let your work or your business consume you to the point that you neglect your loved ones. This is a mistake that many have learnt the hard way.

Your family comes first no matter how much you want your company to succeed. These are the people who love you unconditionally; they are the ones who were there with you long before you started your business and will be there long after you’re done with it.

Journalist, Charles Kuralt says: “The love of family and the admiration of friends is much more important than wealth and privilege.”

Do this:

It’s important to spend time away from work with your family and friends. Even Richard Branson says that time away from work can provide perspective and improve your performance.

Time is precious and you don’t want to look back on your life and realise you spent too much time working and not enough time with the people most important to you. Rearrange you schedule, take a day off here and there; do whatever it takes to spend quality time with those you love. You won’t regret it.

8. Have unlimited enthusiasm

You’re a business owner, making dreams come true; get excited. Make your daily work enjoyable and fun. You can’t reach your full potential if you’re still regretting the past or worrying about the future. You need to fully embrace the reality of this moment and fill it with the enthusiasm of a person in control of their destiny.

Steel magnate, Charles M Schwab says: “A person can succeed at almost anything for which they have unlimited enthusiasm.”

Do this:

Love what you do; be completely obsessed with every aspect of your business. If you don’t, you’ll burn out faster. The only way to remain sane while working harder than everyone else is to enjoy every minute of it.

9. Find (more) joy

Birchbox -logo

Don’t get so caught up in the daily grind that you don’t make time to enjoy the journey you’re on. Don’t wait for one day once you’ve ‘achieved something’ to begin living your life. Regardless of what you’re waiting for, you’re renting the present out to your future.

Co-founder and CEO of Birchbox, Katia Beauchamp says: “I'm committed to finding the joy in every day. That means slowing down and really living in the moment. Today isn't a prologue to tomorrow or next month. This is life right now. I want to make more time for special things, like meditating or waking up earlier to play with my babies. That truly makes you appreciate the love and health in your life.”

Do this:

Yes, there are responsibilities you can’t evade, but if you gave your happiness the same level of importance as you do business, you would skip business meetings instead of missing social events.

Many delay, postpone, and ignore their happiness to achieve a perceived greater happiness in the future. Your time is a finite resource; find the joy in the journey of discovery.

10. Let inspiration strike

Time off can seem like an indulgent waste of time. However, numerous studies have shown that we’re most creative when our brain is relaxed and distracted, away from the daily grind. Working without a break can jeopardise your business, health and your life.

Few ambitious achievers understand the secret behind high productivity; the refuelling principle. You achieve more when you step back and recharge your body and brain. Spending too much time on-task can cause strain reactions such as stress, fatigue and negative moods, which will drain your focus and physical and emotional resources.

HubSpot co-founder and CEO, Brian Halligan says: “I'm going to try to think more and work less. Breaking the cycle of email, meetings, and to-do lists is hard, but I'm trying to nap and meditate as much as possible.”

“I'll have dozens of mediocre ideas and one or two really good ones. Invariably, those really good ones come to me when I'm on the way in or out of a nap or while I'm trying to clear my head while meditating. There's something about not actively thinking that creates a fertile ground in my brain for a breakthrough.”

Do this:

Rest is often considered for lesser mortals where entrepreneurs are concerned. It’s as if each day is an Ironman triathlon that requires you to crawl across the finish line on all fours. Recovery options can range between breaks during the day to diversions that shut-off your work mind to weekend activities, and vacations and sleep.

Related: 6 Leadership styles you need to be the ultimate leader

11. Lighten up

Consider the entrepreneur, grinding towards his goals, pushing past the pain and battling against his lesser self like an Olympic athlete. It’s a powerful image, but there is more to entrepreneurship than stress and strain.

Think of those elite marathon runners who have bathroom emergencies and let loose in the middle of a perfect stride, or Alex Honnold explaining how to go to the bathroom while conquering a mountain 600 metres up. Success is about the hustle and grind, but it can also be hilarious at times. So, laugh at yourself, it’ll help you enjoy the journey.

Gretchen Rubin, a habit expert and author says: “Although I also make smaller resolutions each year, I choose one single word or short phrase to provide the big theme for my year.

“My resolution is to ‘Lighten up’. I'm a very tightly wound intense person and I want to work on taking things lightly; keeping a sense of perspective, and looking for [a] funny side when things go wrong. I want to take myself less seriously.”

Do this:

Laughing off small mistakes and mishaps is a way to accept yourself, and self-acceptance can make you more resilient, which is what you need as an entrepreneur. Light-heartedly pointing out and identifying your mistakes and moving on is better than beating yourself up. Be the entrepreneur who promotes fun and resilience, instead of brittleness and shame.

12. Build better habits

Aristotle

Imagine how much you would get done in a day if you employed good working habits into your routine. Successful entrepreneurs teach themselves good habits every day to help improve their productivity or even their down time. The more you work at something, the easier it becomes until you do it automatically and don’t have to consciously choose to do it.

Aristotle says: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

Do this:

Building your own habits is an element of classic conditioning. Rewards shape long-term positive behaviour. Reward yourself as you progress with your habit building and sooner or later the actions will become part of your process instead of something you need to remind yourself to do.

13. Get Busy

The ego creates fear that keeps you small and reduces your growth potential. As an example, fear of rejection, fear of being overwhelmed, fear of humiliation, fear of making mistakes, fear of losing everything, fear of the unknown can hold you back. The list is huge and all of these factors keep you from trying new things and expanding into new areas.

What separates those who are successful from those who allow fear to hold them back is a willingness to act, despite the fear. The fastest way to conquer a fear is to tackle it head on. Tackling the fear is never as bad as you think it’s going to be. Instead, you’ll find it liberating.

Writer and lecturer, Dale Carnegie says: “Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”

Do this:

You need to be able to strike while the iron is hot, because sometimes windows of opportunity don’t remain open long. If you come up with an idea or you see an opportunity, strike and move quickly. It will be impossible for you to tip-toe along and avoid all the mistakes and pitfalls that await you in business. Those who wait or move too slowly because they’re being over-cautious will miss out.

Related: The best lessons in leadership - from school principal Dian Cockcroft

14. Create self-improvement rituals

Create a morning routine to get you to focus for the day. This routine will fire you up and allow you to be more productive. Self-improvement rituals can include exercise or mind relaxation techniques; as long as you feel you’re benefiting from these activities in your routine.

Billionaire and serial entrepreneur, Fred Mouawad says: “I want to keep one-third of my time unscheduled to dream about how each company in my portfolio can innovate and make the world it touches a better place.

It's important that I manage my time with discipline, sort the priorities, and leave plenty of time to think strategically about how to maximise value.” 

Do this:

Activities you can do every morning for self-improvement and increase productivity include:

  • Mediate for five to 10 minutes
  • A light workout
  • Take a cold shower, switch to warm and finish on cold
  • Stretch
  • Make the bed
  • Journal or read
  • Write down one to three achievable micro-goals for the day.

Adding activities into your routine to assist you in focusing and increasing your productivity will take moments of you time, but give you so much more in return.

15. Look for potential

Your potential can be unlimited if you stop making assumptions and keep an open mind. This allows you to open yourself up to possibilities and to realise goals you’ve always wanted to achieve. Look for your potential to grow this year, instead of focusing on the goals you didn’t achieve in the past.

Journalist, Ellen Goodman says: “We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives; not looking for flaws, but for potential.”

Do this:

Many people find it hard to appreciate their own good qualities. By learning to accept who you are and appreciating your strengths, you can increase the number of ‘better’ choices you make. You’ll also improve mental health and decrease your inclination to procrastinate. Look at the year you’ve had and look at all that you’ve achieved. Consider how much more you can achieve in this New Year to come.

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Nicole Crampton


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