It’s hard to believe that 2020 is just around the corner. And, whatever the driving force behind your SME’s corporate goals will be, I think the key to success in business – and at home – is a willingness to learn.

I try to read a book every couple of weeks, and one that had a huge impact on me earlier this  year is, ‘Atomic Habits’ by James Clear. Dubbed ‘a comprehensive guide on how to change your behavioural patterns and get 1% better every day’, the novel has got me thinking about New Year resolutions –and how it relates to how I’ve implemented some of the publication’s key principles at Q2Q HQ over the past nine months.

How do I know what business targets to set?

We gave ourselves some pretty ambitious goals at the start of our financial year, but only a few were money related. Instead, the majority were focused on customer satisfaction and improving how we operate as a team, in terms of all-things IT support.

To ensure we have a constant reminder of what we’re trying to achieve, our objectives have been translated into wall graphics for the entire office to see – as well as taking pride of place as my desktop background.

Although, those aspirations aren’t solely what drive our 9-5.

Where ‘Atomic Habits’ resonated with me, was by highlighting that although the end-goal will always be important, once you’ve identified a focus, the most important thing is to create the right daily, weekly or monthly lifestyles that offer the opportunity to translate ‘the dream’ into a reality.

An easily relatable scenario is when you have a fitness goal. Let’s imagine you’re new to jogging and want to complete a 5km Parkrun. However, at present, you can only sprint for a minute before needing to revert to a steady walk.

Completing the entire 3.1 miles at full power might seem like a stretch on week one. Plus, if you were to think about it every single day, you’d probably end up feeling overwhelmed or disheartened with what might seem like an unattainable result.

Therefore, a simple but effective strategy is to establish what behaviours would help you become your own answer to Usain Bolt – and focus solely on those. For example:

  1. Train for 30 minutes, three days a week – even if this is simply a fast walk for most of it
  2. Gradually increase your sprints by 30 seconds each time – so run for 60 seconds on day one, 90s on day two and 120s day three.

In reality, all you’re doing is adding half a minute of running each day, but by breaking down the components of your goal – while bolstering your own resilience – it makes your initial aim much more achievable, and realistic.

But how can I deliver on my SME’s plans?

From a business perspective, one of my own intentions for 2019 was to become a trustee for a local charitable organisation. It was important for me to do something positive for the local community in Lancaster.

It was clear the best way to accomplish this was by networking as much as possible locally and within the wider North West – which also proved to help Q2Q.  Pushing myself out of my comfort zone, I set myself a minimum number of networking events to attend, researched all the options out there, and booked onto those most suitable, trusting this would help me realise the overall goal.

When it came to each gathering, I didn’t focus on the overarching driver behind my attendance, instead it was about turning up with an open mind and a desire to meet new friends, make connections and enjoy a spot of socialising.

Nine months in – and because of all the amazing people I have met – I’ve not only been invited to many more events that weren’t planned, but I am proud to confirm that I am now officially a trustee for the Lancashire Association of Boys and Girls Clubs, which is an absolute honour.

Although it was never part of the original ‘plan’, by attending these events we’ve also landed two new customers and have a couple more in the pipeline – with three further prospects currently undergoing an initial IT audit. All of which are a great by-product of the original goal!

A solution which works

We applied this ‘habits strategy’ to all our aspirations this year, and I believe it’s made a huge difference. It took the pressure off the end-goal and allowed us to implement some really simple, easy-to-maintain approaches that have benefitted us in more ways than one – and haven’t felt like a chore!

So, if you’re an SME owner with big plans for 2020, perhaps this could be a great approach? As the new calendar year approaches and many of us will be thinking about New Year’s resolutions, maybe several habitual routines will ensure you stay on track beyond January!

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Technical IT Support illustration at Q2Q HQ Lancaster, Lancashire and the North West