Like many business owners, Patty Moreno-Fletcher has a few major year-end deadlines.
Hers are a bit more unpredictable and life changing than most: She’s a doula—a non-medical coach who supports people through the labor, birth, and new-parent process, or as she calls it “mothering the new mother.” Three of her clients have due dates around the holidays.
She’s setting a deadline for herself, too: In 2009, she purchased the domain name for her practice, Butterfly Babies NYC, but has procrastinated ever since. After relying for years on just positive word-of-mouth among New York families, she’s now made this her primary New Year’s resolution: Develop the website and start a blog to reach out to more potential clients.
“Being a doula—it’s very hands-on work. But when it comes to the Internet or a Web presence or even managing an office or billing, it just give me a headache thinking about it,” she says, laughing.
With 2013 just days away, business owners can celebrate the end of another year of hard work and look ahead at what’s to come—and what they might do differently based on what they’ve learned. While one notable study found the track record for successfully maintaining attempts at change wasn’t all that great, the dawn of every new year brings optimism for starting anew and becoming a little wiser and maybe a bit more efficient.
Here’s a look at what a few business owners are saying they are hoping for, possibly with some inspiration for your own next 12 months.
Hire new staff
John Kwan, chief executive of VeriPic, says he's resolving to increase hiring in 2013. With the economy still sluggish, “there are plenty of talented people available and many just want moderate pay,” he says. “This is the perfect environment for expansion as labor costs are low and this is also an excellent way to help the economy by hiring people.”
“What entrepreneur doesn’t want to focus more?” asks Will Mitchell, a founder of the Startup Bros. business consultancy as well as owner of online marketer Clear Presence Media and reputation manager RepAssured in Tampa, Fla. He resolves to concentrate on one task at a time in order to see it to completion. “Once you start taking the initiative on this, it’s pretty impossible to ignore, particularly if you set up time-tracking software on your computer,” he says. He uses RescueTime, which tracks how much time you spend online and, importantly, shows where those stolen moments on Facebook or fantasy football sites are adding up, and detracting from more important tasks.
Get better rest
Mitchell says his family is full of entrepreneurs (he’s been doing business online since he was 14) and all have struggled with being able to tune out and get to sleep. “Most entrepreneurs will tell you the one thing they can do to improve their performance is get more rest,” he says. “But it’s rare that they’ll actually put down the computer and go to bed.”. How long have his resolutions lasted? “With sleep, historically I can get two to three months into that before the first crisis comes up and kind of ruins that,” he admits, chuckling.
Be able to “glide”
That’s what Heddi Cundle aimed to do after a hectic year of starting up myTab.co, a travel gift-card system she’s founded. After months of 18-hour days getting her start-up off the ground and chasing venture capital from Silicon Valley, Cundle says she and her team in San Francisco recently altered course and decided to license out myTab to e-commerce sites—a move that she said has been received with great enthusiasm. It’s also changed the company’s outlook going into 2013. “Things are falling into place,” Cundle says. “In the next 12 months at least, we can glide a lot easier because we’re not trying to push and strive to fit into a specific mold that we thought we needed to be in to generate revenue. We just found a different sort. Now we’re gliding into 2013. By licensing our technology to verticals, we can use revenue to invest back into myTab.co travel.”
Get ready to market online
“Three years I’ve had this website—it’s ridiculous!” Moreno-Fletcher says. Among her many hopes for the new year for her business—start hiring more doulas for Butterfly Babies, get certified to be a birth educator, expand her community-service efforts—she says she feels she must put her online presence first in line come January. While word-of-mouth marketing has been strong from parents, pediatricians, and even acupuncturists who specialize in fertility issues, Moreno-Fletcher says promoting her business online in a more efficient way is, well, a fact of life.
And what are her chances of ringing in 2013 with a New Year’s baby? Pretty good, it turns out. “My birthday is New Year’s Day. I have three moms ready around that date, and I’m really hoping one of them goes then. It would be so special.”