The Entrepreneur Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in America’s startup scene contribute answers to timely questions about entrepreneurship and careers. Today’s answer to the question “What must every entrepreneur know about startup success?” is written by Rami Essaid, co-founder and CEO of Distil Networks.
While many people around the world make New Year’s resolutions, the annual self-improvement tradition may be especially fitting for enterprising business types. Here are 10 resolutions I’m making and that other entrepreneurs might consider as they wipe the slate clean on 2016 and look ahead to 2017:
When you lead a startup, you’re constantly on the now to the detriment of thinking about and cultivating long-range strategy. That will end up with you running from one thing to the next — wrapping up a product update, closing a big sale, hiring new employees, or putting out the many fires that can erupt in a young, growing business. But it’s essential to take a step back and address the big picture.
Watch your spending
Remember early 2016, when many pundits were predicting a tech market crash? It didn’t happen, thankfully. But the capital markets remain uncertain, and startups are wise going into 2017 to maintain a close eye on the financials. Don’t just spend money because you can. (That’s smart regardless of economic conditions.)
Manage your time better
Make 2017 the year you get out of the weeds. Make a list of your most important priorities and tasks and spend time only on those. Wipe every meeting off of your calendar and only put back the ones that are really worth it. I did this when I went on my honeymoon a few months ago, and found that over a third of my meetings were ones I didn’t need to be a part of. Unclogging my calendar has since made it much easier for me to prioritize.
Completely disconnect once or twice during the year
My honeymoon also gave me an opportunity to disconnect for the first time in years. Removing all of my phone alerts and other digital nuisances was a surprisingly involved process. But once I did, I realized how noisy they had made my life and affected my focus. Upon returning, I felt profoundly refreshed and more ready than ever to take on the world. I’ve prolonged the feeling by choosing carefully what to re-engage with.
Disconnecting also enables the people around you to step up and take control. As leaders, we often inadvertently give people a crutch and a reason not to step up because they’re afraid to step on our toes. By disconnecting, we give them the room and freedom to come into their own light.
Work with only the best
It sounds obvious, but the importance of hiring and keeping great people can never be underestimated and should be a perennial on every entrepreneur’s list of resolutions. Remember: One stellar contributor is worth more to an organization than three average ones.
Take care of yourself
Actress and director Nia Vardalos said: “My New Year’s resolution list usually starts with the desire to lose between 10 and 3,000 pounds.” Many folks commit to better fitness in the New Year. Entrepreneurs — who have an especially acute need to manage stress and keep their minds sharp — should be no exception.
Perform charitable acts
If you’re an accomplished entrepreneur and you think you got there alone, you’re delusional, narcissistic, or both. No one who successfully builds a company does so without emotional and financial support from an ecosystem of family, friends, and other business people and entrepreneurs. So show the same generosity of spirit that you received and help other new-to-the-game entrepreneurs. Don’t stop there, though. Help the unfortunate in your community. And don’t just write checks — give your time. While starting and growing a company is draining, it should never stop you from giving back.
Know your customers
It’s another evergreen resolution, but recommit to understanding your customers as deeply as you can so you can provide a better product. Make sure absolutely everything in the company is geared toward that end. Question anything that isn’t.
Creating and growing businesses is no-nonsense work. But don’t take it and yourself so seriously that you lose the ability to have a good laugh. Laughter is said to produce a range of health benefits, from lower stress hormones to increased immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies. It also makes you and those around you happier. So keep your sense of humor.
Minimize the gibberish
The tech industry is addicted to buzzwords like “leverage,” “pivot,” “disrupt,” “unicorn,” “ninjas,” and “growth-hacking.” Everyone is sick of them (though few admit it publicly) and it’s time to stop the madness. Here’s a thought: Speak like a normal person. You may end up being a more impactful communicator and stop sounding like everyone else. If you have doubts, ask yourself this question: Has anyone ever walked up to you after, say, a presentation and said, “That was pretty good, but couldn’t you have gunked it up with more jargon?”
Here’s to a happy, buzzword-limited, and healthy New Year!