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As a business owner, the start of a new year is an exciting time. Hopefully you have had the opportunity to reflect on the successes and learnings of the year gone by and feel re-energised to make 2016 your best year yet. If you reflect back on the energy you have at the start of each new year, it is unique. There is typically a window of a few days (if you’re lucky, a week or two) where you not only have unbridled enthusiasm, but also the space to plan and prioritise for the next 12 months. Take the gap! By the time February rolls around your diary will once again be chaotic and you will not have the same fresh perspective on important vs. urgent, having been sucked back into the usual ‘whirlwind of busyness’.

The cliché “if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail”, is a cliché for a reason; so take the time to develop a solid plan with clear milestones, timings and accountabilities. However, my experience is that a good plan is not enough as, with the fluid and at times lonely nature of being an entrepreneur, it is tough to stay focused on your goals and remain energized as the year drags on. To this end I suggest using this New Year’s energy and perspective to answer the following 5 questions that will not only keep help you drive the important things through the clutter, but will also continually serve as a reminder of the ‘why’ that was at the heart of your enthusiasm at the start of the year.

  1. Am I focusing on the right things?

    More and more business literature concurs that your elite CEOs understand what the Top 3 things are for their business and focus relentlessly on them. Carefully define these at the start of your performance cycle and, as 10xCEO methodology (see concept 10xCEO) says, don’t get distracted until these 3 have been “wrestled to the ground”.

  2. Is my mind set in the positive or the negative?

    As the year goes on it is easy to lose that ‘spring’. Your attitude is contagious – not only to your team, but also to your customers. I find by reflecting on all that I have to be grateful for, focusing on what I can control and doing the hardest and most important tasks at the start of my day (see concept “Eat the Frog”) ensure that that infectious positive attitude endures deep into the year.

  3. What meaning am I assigning to my challenges?

    Quite simply understanding and articulating what your greatest challenges are and then framing them as a unique growth opportunity change the way you will take on a challenge and enhance your ability to overcome it.

  4. What will I do next to progress?

    Having reflected on the above 3 questions it is important to put down a few tangible actions and changes that you will make to your life and daily routine to give traction to the above. This is likely to change on a monthly basis as you become more self-aware – keep these simple and set the bar low. Setting the bar low is counterintuitive, but the routine achievement of something, albeit small, develops positive habits which can always be built on.

  5. What tangible reminders do I need to see to stay motivated?

    At the outset understand what motivates you, what success looks and feels like and then create sensory reminders that keep it real and in your face. Whether it be pictures, quotes, a song etc. identify what this symbolises for you and then expose yourself to it regularly as a reminder of the ‘why’. You would be surprised at how this gives you that extra 10% that will enable you to push through when the going gets tough.

In conclusion I will say that, although the above questions are fairly philosophical, I find most people who have chosen this path are passionate and driven. Why not leverage this unique energy to give yourself a ‘Fresh Start*’ more than once a year!

*For this to work it is essential that you revisit your answers at least monthly (a reoccurring diary reminder on the 1st of the month works for me).

To support business owners with the important task of business planning, Sanlam gives you free access to the book Your Annual Business Game Plan for Success, which provides an easy and straightforward framework needed to draft a well-crafted game plan that will create the positive change and growth necessary for business success. Go to to download your free copy.

This article was written by Daniel Hatfield, Managing Director of Edge Growth



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