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Advice

The entrepreneur’s list of 2018 New Year’s resolutions

No matter how busy you are as an entrepreneur, it’s important to still take the time to reflect on what you can do better in your work and life. However, even with the best of intentions, time often gets away from us and those goals to make improvements do, too. That’s why I’ve started now on the changes that I want to make in 2018. While my plans to do things differently in 2018 may not be what you had in mind for yourself, I wanted to share them as an inspiration to get started on those things you have been considering but not acting on.

Return to college

Regardless of the fact that I run multiple businesses, actively participate in the conference speaking circuit and have a family, I’ve decided to head back to college. I’ll be enrolled in the masters program for entrepreneurs at Stanford University. It’s accelerated so I won’t be in school for a long time. Instead, it forces me to adjust my schedule and become more regimented and diversified in what I do every day.

Plus, the work I’ll be doing as part of the program will only further benefit my businesses. I can use the problems and issues I face in my own businesses as case studies for the work I have to complete to earn my degree. Taking this route also provides a different perspective that I didn’t have while primarily working within my own bubble.

When you consider making this kind of change to your schedule, it does require significant planning. You’ll need to research the type of program you may want to enroll in, the type of degree you want to earn and the amount of time it will take. Do also take into account how long you’ll need to spend applying to the program, as paperwork must be filed typically months in advance.

Once you are accepted, you’ll also need to determine which classes you might be able to take online and how it impacts on your daily work schedule, including any homework and research projects. I also had to discuss this significant change with my better half to see if it works for her schedule and how we divide up our responsibilities at home.

Formalize business practices

In the constant rush of entrepreneurship, the basics of business often are forgotten. This happens when you are on the go or are putting out fires that crop up as you build out a business. You can often overlook details regarding strict business practices, such as formalizing written policies and creating a structure for onboarding talent. These things are important. But in prioritizing what can be a mountain of responsibility, it’s easy to put them to the side to accomplish later.

I’ve realized that “later” long passed and that I have to make a conscious effort to formalize my business practices before the businesses gets any larger. It will take considerable work to create policies and procedures about how we work, the parameters and restrictions on any freelancers I hire and the need for security measures. Additionally, I am implementing an onboarding program that includes an agreement for each freelancer or employee, online training and team integration. This will ensure that everyone is on the same page and operates more efficiently as a cohesive unit.

Define a company culture

Many entrepreneurs believe that a company culture is not necessary for startups and that you can work on developing it later in the business. I realized quickly that the culture starts with me and how I interact with those who work with me. It’s never too late to get started with culture.

That’s why it’s a priority for me in 2018. Since I already have a team in place, I am including them in developing the definition by asking them what they would like to see in our culture and how we can all make those values a reality, even when virtually spread across the world. Involving the team in the process will help them embrace the new culture more quickly than if I simply tell them about it.

Once it is established, I plan to regularly communicate about what it means and how we can make it our own. Additionally, I plan to ask other members of my team to share what the culture means to them. This will help me understand each person, what’s important to them and what they expect from me.

Take on more social causes

As I participate as a speaker at larger conferences and further develop my thought leadership position online, I see an opportunity to leverage this growing audience and influencer ability to publicize social causes that are important to me. If I don’t, then I’m not taking advantage of the role to generate awareness and move people to action beyond just marketing my company and personal brands.

It doesn’t have to feel like a soapbox. Instead, share the various projects or roles that you have taken on in the new year. I like to mention helping others locally in Silicon Valley and around the world through projects my wife and I get involved in while we travel. Simply sharing these causes and explaining why you got involved is a perfect way to influence others, including fellow entrepreneurs, team members or customers to do the same.

What I won’t be doing differently in 2018

There are some things I don’t plan on changing. I’ll still work just as hard albeit smarter. There won’t be any slowing down. It will be about finding ways to further accelerate my goals.

John Rampton is the founder of Palo Alto, California-based Calendar, a company helping your calendar be much more productive.

This column first appeared at BusinessCollective

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