By Russ Fujioka
Reprinted from Inc.
Resolutions are made to be broken, right? Not if you're a small business owner in today's competitive economy.
The day-to-day of an entrepreneur is nothing if not frenetic and fast-paced. But it's so important to take stock of your business - and then commit to the actions that will put you on a better trajectory.
Whether you've been in business for 12 months or 12 years, here are five resolutions that will kick start your company in 2016.
Take advantage of technology
Running a small business has never been easier - and that's largely thanks to the golden age of digital technology we live in.
From building a website to storing information to processing transactions, entrepreneurs looking to build and scale their ventures can turn to a bumper crop of new companies for help. If you're not leveraging these services, you're putting your company at a distinct disadvantage.
In the past, some small businesses have indicated that they lack the necessary resources to navigate the ever-expanding world of digital solutions. But the latest generation of SMB-focused tools have put a premium on simplicity and ease of use. While you might need to make an upfront investment of time to research and test new technology, your efforts will pay off in spades in the long run.
Ask for help
Even Mark Zuckerberg isn't above needing a mentor.
The best entrepreneurs I know regularly meet with an advisor to bounce around business development ideas, discuss management challenges and recharge their motivation. They find that building a relationship with an advisor can help them gain valuable perspective on their business, not to mention unlock powerful connections with potential customers or investors.
As you look for the right person, think about the qualities and areas of expertise that would be most helpful to you. But, also, learn how to articulate what you can bring to the table - the best relationships enable both people to grow and learn.
Take control of your finances
This may seem like an obvious one, but I've encountered far too many entrepreneurs held back by leaky accounting.
The most buttoned-up businesses are led by entrepreneurs who aren't afraid to get hands on with their balance sheets - or at least know when they need to call in the experts. Our research shows that the most successful small businesses work with an accountant. And a wave of new online tools can help meet the full range of financial needs.
Also, make your financial practices a habit. Smart business owners automate what they can with technology and establish a routine for everything else.
Be good to your people
It's a cliché, but it's true: especially in the earliest days of a small business, your people - and the culture you create together - are your greatest asset.
As a recent New York Times story pointed out, it can be very difficult for small businesses in particular to find - and hold on to - the talent that they need.
According to survey data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, at businesses with fewer than 10 employees, 1.8 million people quit in the five months from January to May 2015, which marked a 34 percent increase from the same period in 2014.
At companies with 10 to 49 employees, resignations increased by 12 percent year of year. A June 2015 survey from the National Federation of Independent Business reported that 80 percent of employers had challenges finding the talent they needed or could not find appropriate talent at all.
Small businesses can't always provide the benefits and perks of bigger business, so it's even more important to make sure that employees feel appreciated, professionally challenged and rewarded.
Get serious about security
Cybersecurity is hardly just a big business threat. According to the National Small Business Association, 50 percent of all small businesses experienced a cyber attack in 2014, with the average amount stolen totaling $19,948.
Despite the clear risk, too many entrepreneurs don't take the necessary precautions -- like keeping their credentials out of the cloud -- or invest in the appropriate solutions.
A recent survey from the Endurance International Group found that 42 percent of small businesses have dedicated resources toward the threat.
For companies that want to protect their online businesses but don't know where to start, the Small Business Administration has launched a new website and online course on cybersecurity.
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