By Susan Guillory

People are really polarized when it comes to New Year’s resolutions: you either love them or hate them. I find that the haters tend to hate the idea of making resolutions because theirs always fail. My argument to that is: if you know how to set realistic resolutions, they’re actually tremendously helpful.

Skeptical? Read on. I’ve got some great tips.

But First, a Secret

You want to know something? Resolutions are nothing more than goals. If you’ve set goals for your company, you can do the exact same thing…just do it for the new year. I find that a new year makes a symbolic fresh start, and I can look at what I’ve done in my company in the past 12 months to set goals for the upcoming year.

Decide Where You Want to Be in 12 Months

Don’t be afraid to dream here. We’re in the brainstorming step. What do you want your business to look like in December 2016? Maybe you want more clients, or to have a staff to help you get work done. Maybe you want to double your revenue.

Look What You’ve Accomplished Since Last Year

Now take a look at what you’ve gotten done since December 2014. Did you increase sales? By how much? Boost the average sale amount? What was that percent increase? Get really nitty gritty about the details of how you’ve improved your company, because you’re going to need them.

Find a Healthy Balance

Let’s say you grew revenue by 10% in the past year, and you want to grow it again. Sure, you could set a goal of growing by 244%, but you’ll likely be disappointed. So push your resolution a bit more than your past history. Maybe you aim for a 20% increase.

Realize that setting resolutions isn’t magic.  You’ll need the resources to back up making them a reality, so don’t aim for the moon if you don’t have a rocket.

Create Action Steps

Here’s what I mean by “you need resources to achieve your resolutions:” once you have your goals/resolutions written down, make a list of steps that need to happen to reach that goal.

So if you want to increase sales by 20%, you might need these tasks:

  • Expand into a new geographic sales territory
  • Hire 2 sales people
  • Invest in online advertising
  • Put more effort into content marketing

Now, for each task you list, make sure to assign it an owner. If you have employees, pick the one that handles that area of your business, and assign a deadline. Check in each quarter to make sure these actions are being handled and you are moving toward your goals.

Don’t Cry if You Fail

So what if you end up increasing revenue by 17% instead of 20% in the next year? Are you really upset that you didn’t exactly hit your goal? The point of the resolution is to set your sights high (but reasonable). Anything within that positive change bandwidth should be acceptable.