3 Simple Business Resolutions for 2017

The number of Americans that make New Year’s resolutions each year hovers somewhere around 45%, according to most studies. Wanna know what percentage of those making resolutions succeed in seeing them through? That number hits about 8%. Breaking those numbers down, nearly half of the population makes New Year’s resolutions and around 3 1/2 percent of the population both make and succeed at their resolutions. Needless to say, that’s hardly encouraging.

The definition of “resolution” is a “firm decision to do or not to do something.” Resolutions, in other words, require that one strengthen their resolve if they are to succeed. Judging by the stats above, it sounds like perhaps we should change our nomenclature for these beginning-of-the-year aspirations we have to New Year’s wishes.

As a business owner, you know you have to set goals and plan how you are going to achieve them if you want to move forward. In short, you know you need resolutions. So, how can you, in your business, ensure that as we turn the calendar over to another year that you are resolute in working toward business goals rather than simply wishful?

A Breaking Into Parts

We are often advised when embarking upon big projects to break them down into smaller components to make them more manageable. You can transfer that methodology over to resolution achievement as well — make some small, easily manageable resolutions that will drive you toward success with your larger resolutions. That’s not cheating — it’s planning for success.

Each of you is going to have different areas of your practice you want to focus more heavily on in 2017, from increasing client referrals to reviewing your technology usage to improving the client experience to implementing a goals-based approach to investing for your clients, etc., etc. What I’d like to encourage you to take a look at are three smaller (and easily actionable) resolutions you can make for 2017 right now that will assist you with achieving everything just mentioned and likely any other resolutions related to your business that you will be making. How? Each of these three resolutions will save you significant amounts of time by helping to prevent breakdowns in your processes and/or your security that can in turn take away more time from your schedule to deal with those hassles. Successfully implementing these resolutions frees you up to take on your larger resolutions with less distraction.

Resolve to use a Password Manager

This is one of the easiest, quickest and least expensive resolutions you can make, but one that can pay huge dividends in terms of time and security.  I have 275 username/password combos across a wide range of platforms and websites. I know one of them, and that’s the one for the password manager I use. The password manager itself generates and keeps track of the rest and allows me to autofill credentials when I need them from my desktop, tablet or phone.

How does this help me in terms of time? Not only have I eliminated the need for typing in usernames and passwords, but I’ve also eliminated the (significant) amount of time that can be required in remembering a password or using a lost password link, etc.

And how does it help me in terms of security? Let’s put it this way — if I weren’t using a password manager, many of those 275 username/password combos would be the same, making websites or applications with strong security in place susceptible to the security level of the weakest.

There are quite a few choices out there — a side-by-side look at many of the popular ones is available here. I’ve been a LastPass user for over five years and it’s difficult for me to even estimate at this point what that represents in terms of the time I’ve saved not fumbling around for passwords.

Resolve to begin using Workflows

At the end of the year we often look back and wonder where the time has gone. Did we get everything done we’d hoped to get done? The answer is usually no. If you want to become more efficient in 2017, kickstart that effort with workflows.

How are workflows superior to simply using a Calendar? Workflows offer a structured way of conceptualizing, implementing, managing and reporting on the processes that drive your business. Simply put, they propel your day-to-day activities forward and clearly define accountability. Additionally, workflows enable you to clearly see where bottlenecks sometimes occur in your processes so that you can retool them for increased efficiencies. Also, when workflows are crafted well, they decrease the problems that can arise with key person dependency, i.e., when a key person is on vacation or sick or leaves the firm, well-crafted workflows leave no doubt as to what needs to be done in that person’s absence.

Workflows can take some time to set up initially, but in terms of process clarity and efficiencies gained, that setup time is recouped quickly. At Redtail in May of 2016, we did a month of webinars on Workflows that you can access here. But, regardless of whether you are a Redtail subscriber or not, you should take advantage of any available workflows or automations available in the tech tools you do use.

Resolve to use available integrations between your tech tools

Integrations may not exist between all of the tools that you use, but, where they do, you should take the time to make sure you are taking advantage of them. Integration may mean something as simple as Single Sign-On (which can be a small timesaver in an of itself) or it may mean that data flows back and forth between two of the tools you use (which offers substantial time saved and increased accuracy as less data entry is required).

Integration setups on your part are usually quick and easy. When you have time, just search the help documentation of the tech vendors you use to see with whom they offer integration. Or, shoot an email to each vendor asking if they offer integration with the other platforms you use.

Stop wishing, start planning

If you can see the value in any of the above and decide to adopt one or all of these resolutions, recognize that they are just like any other goal. Without planning they are just wishes. Be specific about the dates by which you want to have a Password Manager in place. Assign a staff member to research available integrations for your technologies. Document the processes you want to convert into workflows. Create an action plan for all of your resolutions. (Note: you can use Workflows to set up these action plans!)

The big goals you have for your business this upcoming year are only achievable if you put a plan into place for achieving them and follow through on that plan. You can carve out more time for that follow through on your big goals by successfully fulfilling the smaller resolutions I laid out above.

Paul Cantrell
Paul Cantrell
Paul handles technical writing as well as producing other instructional content for Redtail Technology. He's been in FinTech for 14 years, the last eight of which have been with Redtail.

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