Another year is upon us, and most of us are making goals and resolutions for 2017, both for our personal lives and businesses. How do you decide what’s important enough to prioritize this year, and what should you put off until 2018? How many resolutions should you make? Does making more keep you from accomplishing any?
The following are 5 resolutions I feel are important enough to tackle this year. Notice, none of them are quick fixes, nor are they milestones. While accomplishing them, we’ll be able to measure your progress, but they are ongoing projects that should be worked into our businesses as a whole. This is actually good! It means we cannot fail. As long as we improve, we’ve achieved. So let’s get started!
1. Audit your mobile experience
Studies show that Americans are spending more time on mobile and less time on desktop (See more). If social media is a large part of our marketing plans, our mobile sites should be fantastic. In fact, we probably should design for mobile first. So much of the Internet is visual, which is one reason why I believe Pinterest and Instagram fuel small businesses these days. We put so much emphasis on having a beautiful and uniform Instagram grid, but if we are using these platform to attract new clients, we need to place more emphasis on the mobile experience as well. I can’t remember the last time I have used Instagram on a desktop computer, but to be honest… I designed my website for desktop first, even though Instagram is my most engaged social media platform. This is something I need to work on in 2017.
Let’s take some time to look at our sites on different devices to see how the experience is. We could even ask our friends who have a different type of phone or tablet to look at our website and note areas that seem less user-friendly than others.
2. Socialize offline
There is so much emphasis on social media and mobile interaction, that many of us forget there is a life outside of social media followers, likes, and shares. Even the most well known digital marketing specialists take time to engage with human beings in real life, whether it be speaking engagements, conferences, book signings, or meet ups. Talking to someone face-to-face is one of the best ways, if not the best way, to share your vision, ask someone’s opinion about a new venture, or meet new friends. Who knows… The person you’re talking to at the grocery store, bank, or a concert may need the service or product you provide.
Interacting with human beings is also the only way I know to be truly honest. In most respects, it is easier to interact digitally. I can portray a certain image, or market my brand well when everything is planned, proofed and edited. However, engaging with other human beings and seeing how people react to me face-to-face is the only way I will know which areas I could improve on.
For example, someone may be able to write the best blog posts, but they will never know what kind of a public speaker they are until they practice. Why should wait for the marketing chance of a lifetime to speak at a huge conference, only to realize they need to refine their public speaking skills?
3. Create separate spaces for work and play
I know how easy it is for your passion project to consume the majority of your time. If you were a single person, perhaps this is all right. You can focus on working 14 hour days for a set number of years in order to learn the skills you need to succeed in your business. Some successful entrepreneurs have taken this route.
However, if you are a spouse, parent or even a friend, you will have other activities on a day-to-day basis that compete for your time. You may find that your work has started to encroach upon your personal time. Or the opposite, you may find it hard to get work done when there are so many other activities competing for your attention. This is why it’s important to establish healthy boundaries, both physically and in regards to time.
I distinctly remember an episode of The Americans, where a successful businessman told Philip Jennings that he shouldn’t create a home office, because too often he would come home from work, and then just keep working.
If you work from home, the unfinished activities laying on your desk may eat at you each time you walk down the hallway to your child’s room, or you may feel like you are neglecting your children who are running down the hallway past your office while you work. I would suggest doing something as simple as closing your office door at a set time each day, knowing that those projects will still be there in the morning. Or, shutting your door while inside your office to indicate to everyone else in the house that this is your set working time. Of course, your spouse will be your biggest asset in this area. Even I, after driving 30 minutes away from my office to go home, sometimes find it difficult to leave work at work. My spouse has to remind me that the work will be there in the morning, and while I am home, I should be at home.
Some other ideas are to use a different web browser for work and personal matters. Maybe we should have 2 computer accounts: one for work and one for personal, so items on the desktop don’t distract us while you’re focusing on something else. Maybe that means only using our cellphones during the workday, so we don’t see new emails come in. Perhaps that means we silence notifications or set our email to work offline after a certain hour. Let’s work on creating more intentional boundaries in 2017!
4. Learn how paid marketing works
I get it… Social media is complicated and always changing, and the ways to best utilize paid ads seem to change constantly as well. One day, the social media expert will say we should focus on this platform, and a week later, it could change. Take a Snapchat and Instagram Stories for example. A few months ago, Gary Vaynerchuk was telling every business to get on Snapchat. He said it was the best way to gain instant, targeted customer interaction. Soon after, Instagram Stories was introduced, and I think it blew his mind a little bit. He went on record saying that Snapchat needed to begin innovating again, because Instagram stories just copied one of the major reasons why their platform was special and growing.
However, learning the basics of social media marketing on the key platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Pinterest and Twitter are relatively easy. Companies want to sell their ad space, so they make it very user-friendly. Most of them have tutorials on their own sites that walk you through the process step-by-step. I would recommend saving up a little bit of money to run an ad or two on each social network (I literally started with a $10 campaign on Facebook). We may be surprised by which platforms yield the best results, but at very least, the process won’t seem so daunting anymore.
5. Learn skills, not hacks
I’m a millennial, for better or for worse. One things we can all agree on is that a millennial lives in a fast-paced, instant gratification bubble. Unless forced out of that bubble, we don’t want to spend a great amount of time learning to do something well, when it could be done almost as well in less time. I think entrepreneurs fall into the same patterns of living, because we are often a one-man team. We feel like we need to know the basics of everything in order to succeed. If we have a question, we google that specific question, rather than learning about the context or aspect as a while. That is why when I scroll through my Facebook feed, I see the word “hack” so often.
In 2017, let’s promise each other that we will learn a skill well. Let’s not just memorize a list of steps in order to succeed moderately… Let’s learn why we follow those steps in order to succeed and then create shortcuts for ourselves if necessary, depending on what works best for us. Even if it is just one skill per year for the rest of our lives, we will be more well-rounded and knowledgeable than those who simply follow hacks that other people have created.
What goals and resolutions have you made for 2017? I would love to hear them in the comments below.
Happy New Year’s!
Thank You Kindly LLC