Business New Year’s resolutions

Episode 197: Three New Year’s Resolutions for Small Business Bosses

Happy New Year, bosses! 2020 is here, and in this episode, I’m sharing three resolutions based on things I wish I’d only known sooner in my business.

I know, I know. Resolutions may not be your favorite, but the new year is here, and let’s be real, we’re all thinking about how to make 2020 an awesome year.

2020 will be my 15th year in business, and along the way, I’ve learned a lot. But there are a few things I wish I’d realized sooner in my journey, so I wanted to share them with you as they may be helpful as you dive into a fresh new year.

Resolution #1: Pay Yourself First or Pay Yourself More

Many of us joke about the number of courses and programs we’ve invested in to build our businesses. And for many of us, that humor stems from the fact that we’re uneasy about the money we’ve spent as we’ve not necessarily seen the results we were looking for.

I know because this is something I’ve definitely done over the years. It’s why I have a Dropbox folder I’ve nicknamed “the land of forgotten courses.” And boss, there’s zero shame in any of it. I like to think of it as a learning experience on how not to run your business.

Because as long as you’re heavily “investing” in your business, you’re likely doing it at the cost of paying yourself.

The key is for you to have a plan for how and what you’re going to spend on (AKA a budget), and more importantly, that should include a commitment to paying yourself. Without that game plan, you’re likely going to find yourself feeling resentful and on the road to burn out. (I talk about this more in my free course, 5 Steps to $5k Months.)

Keep in mind that while there’s work involved in building a business, you’re most likely building a lifestyle. Your goal should be a business designed to pay you and give you the type of life you want — not one that requires years of hustle with zero financial reward.

If you’re reading this and you’re already paying yourself, your resolution needs to be to continue to pay yourself first and to look for ways to raise that in the coming year. That may be by raising your overall revenue, or better yet, increasing your profitability, so there’s more left over.

If you haven’t already, take some time to review your expenses, get your budget locked down, and then stick to it. I’ve never ever been upset about having made sound financial decisions that allow me to take home more money.

Resolution #2: Don’t Buy Your Friends

For too many years to count, I suffered from an acute case of FOMO related to not joining a high-priced mastermind. (When I say high-priced, I mean $20k or more a year.) While I couldn’t make the financial case or figure out the potential ROI of joining one of these groups, I felt like I may be holding my business back because I wasn’t getting “access” to other people like me.

What a load of crap. Seriously. This is a huge selling feature of these masterminds, and while I don’t doubt those connections are helpful, I call bullshit. Even though I bought into it for a while, I realized that I was doing just fine without buying my friends. (Okay, I know that’s harsh, but I’ve got your attention, right?)

Frankly, I don’t need those types of “friends” in my life. And I definitely don’t want to be a part of that type of circle game where we all need to promote one another’s offers in order to get ahead.

There are other ways to get support without breaking the bank. First, there are many high-quality paid masterminds out there that are under the $10k mark. Paying more for a mastermind doesn’t make it better. In fact, I’d argue that when you’re paying more than I made at my first job out of college per year for a mastermind, there’s a high degree of stress that’s going to come with that investment. And knowing what I make in my business, I’m still not comfortable with an investment of that magnitude. Based on my past experience, I don’t see how I’d ever see a return on a $20k or $50k investment. (Maybe I’ve yet to find the right mastermind, who knows, but until then, I’m keeping my money where I can see it.)

Next, create a peer mastermind. I’ve not been in paid masterminds since 2016, and guess what? My business is rockin’ and rollin’, and things are going just fine without it. That’s not to say I’m flying solo without any support. I’ve been in multiple peer masterminds over the years, and they’ve been incredibly helpful.

In full disclosure, when looking at my 2020, I decided to join a paid mastermind but with a clear vision for what I wanted. I’m not looking for an expert to guide me, but rather to have a safe space and sounding board as I navigate the year ahead.

Outside of masterminds, there are so many ways to get support in your business when you need it. I’d challenge you to assess why you need support and for what specific reason.

Personally, I’m a fan of hiring specialists to help me define problems in my business, which is why I work with a leadership coach and have hired someone to help with email marketing strategy. That specificity makes it much easier for me to maximize that investment instead of banking on a vague promise of improving my mindset and making valuable connections.

Resolution #3: Expand Your Circle

Years ago, I was in a group program where a complete ecosystem was born. We were all working with and hiring each other, which when it went well, was pretty dreamy. (This is where I befriended my former business partner.) But when it went bad, which in some cases it inevitably did, it was awkward and resulted in a lot of bad feelings for all involved.

Hundreds — or even thousands — of these ecosystems exist in the online business world, and when we stay stuck in these, we’re limiting our potential. I’m all for people doing business with people they know, like, and trust, but it’s a risky proposition.

Let’s say, for example, all of your clients come from one community, and you hire people you work with from that same community. What happens if that community shuts down? What happens if you get a rabble-rouser causing problems in that community or any other number of scenarios that could play out?

The goal should be to constantly and consistently be expanding your circle because the more people you know, the greater reach you have. The more support you’ll have. And you’ll not be in a position where you feel like you’re just passing around the same $3,000 between a group of 10 people.

For me, I’ve had to actively work to foster relationships and connections, and it’s not always easy. I need to carve out time to do it, to stay connected, and to have conversations. Sometimes, it’s a quick chat in the DMs on Instagram, a Zoom call, or an email to just say hey. And while I may resist doing it, I’m always happy I did.

If you’re sitting here thinking about your circle and how you don’t know anyone, just know that in our online world, people want to be connected. We’re all alone, and people who make the effort to keep it real and show up for other people are worth their weight in gold. I’m always pleasantly surprised at how impactful a thoughtful comment on an Instagram Story, sharing a post, or sending a quick email can be. (Especially when it’s fueled by connection and kindness — not an agenda or a hidden pitch.)

Next week, I’m going to be sharing a new type of episode, a deep dive where I take you way, way behind-the-scenes of my business. In this episode, I’ll be sharing all the numbers related to how I found clients in 2019. This is one you won’t want to miss!

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