For Founders, The New Year Is A Time for Business Resolutions by Forbes – Entrepreneurs

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A good resolution planted at the New Year will bear fruit by the end of 2019. Photo Credit: GettyGetty

As 2018 comes to a close, our attention turns to the new year. We make resolutions. We imagine how we will be different after a full year of acting on them. We hope that this year will be the year that they stick. For a startup founder, the line between life and work, between personal and professional, is so blurred that resolutions often morph into business goals. When a founder is picturing themselves at the end of 2019, they may well be thinking about 365 phone calls they made to their mother, but it is just as likely that they are thinking about revenue targets, company culture, and the number of customers whose lives they will have changed.

Genevieve Barnard Oni, the co-founder of MDaaS Global, wants to spend 2019 really getting to know her business. MDaaS builds and operates modern, tech-enabled diagnostic centers in clinically underserved communities in Africa. According to Oni, “Through a combination of brick-and-mortar facilities and our tech platform, we provide high-quality and affordable x-ray, ultrasound, ECG, and lab services to patients and their doctors.” They are currently serving patients in Nigeria. Her resolution is “to learn something new about our business every week.”

Last summer, the MDaas team was part of the inaugural Techstars Impact cohort. Within the structure of an accelerator program, running weekly micro experiments became part of their routine. For example, one week they surveyed 50 of their patients on their experience at the flagship MDaaS diagnostic center. The next week, they experimented with providing mobile ultrasound services to a partner hospital. Outside of the accelerator, the practice has been harder to maintain. Oni shared, “As a small team, my co-founders and I often get swept up in execution and firefighting. Over the past few months, we have struggled to set aside time for experimentation and reflection. In the new year, we are re-committing to weekly experiments, documenting what we learn, and sharing with our team.” Oni is committed to sticking to her business resolution because she “believes that curiosity and continuous learning are critical to the development of our company and our ability to meet the dynamic needs of our customers.”

If you want to make continuous learning part of your business resolution for 2019, start by writing a list of 10 fundamental questions that you need to answer. Then design experiments to gather evidence and test your theories. Most critically, set meetings to share what you have learned. Include key team members, but also a few external trusted mentors. It will be much harder to put off your experiments if you know that you have a deadline to present your findings to important stakeholders.

Bequita Mahama is committed to developing her company’s culture in 2019. She founded and runs AquaFarms Africa, a social franchise agribusiness geared towards continental and diaspora Africans. The company “strives to grow clean, fresh, organic produce using the most efficient, sustainable, and safest technology available while combating poverty and food insecurity across Africa.” Mahama, who has worked both in the United States and West Africa, has experienced how different cultures can impact how your company operates in both productive and unproductive ways. Her resolution is, “to explore different business practices that are culturally sensitive to different orientations toward time management yet are still profitable and productive.” As a fresh-foods business, their work is very time-sensitive. Mahama shared, “One of the obstacles we find culturally across West Africa is the laid-back atmosphere. While we want to be culturally sensitive, we need to remain profitable and productive.” She is committed this year to find practices that respect local cultures while also ensuring timely delivery of products.

If you are hoping to influence your company culture in 2019, start by figuring out what your culture actually is by studying how it manifests. Ask all of your employees to write down what they believe your company values and to list three tangible practices or anecdotes that illustrate that value. If you say that you value transparency, but your employees struggle to cite a time when transparency was put into practice, it’s time to do some work. Once you have uncovered the gap between values and practices, build one new practice a month into your team’s routine and culture.

Understanding your business and building an effective company culture enable you and your team to deliver products and services to the people who need them. Peris Bosire, the Co-Founder of FarmDrive, is focused on scaling up their service delivery in 2019. FarmDrive provides loans to smallholder farmers in Kenya via their mobile phones. According to their website, 50M smallholder farmers are “struggling to support their families and communities through agri-business because less than 10% have their economic needs met by the financial sector.” By the end of 2019, she plans to serve 1M more of these farmers. In order to reach this goal, Bosire is not just focused on marketing, as one might expect. With a degree in Computer Science, the engineer is focused on building a business model that resilient to competition and the infrastructure needed to reach the masses.

Is your 2019 resolution to scale-up your business? Partnerships with established organizations and companies can be a strong channel reach the masses because it allows you to piggyback on their existing infrastructure. Bring your team together to list all potential scaling partners. Learn what you can about their businesses (hint: other startups they have partnered with are great sources of intel) to understand what they have to gain and lose by working with you. Go into negotiations with your eyes wide-open to the ways they could take advantage of you and a clear understanding of how you can help their business so that they want to work for your mutual benefit.

No matter what your goal is for 2019, setting an intention in the form of a resolution can be a great way to make sure that your business is where it needs to be by the end of the year. Once you have decided on your resolution, make it public. You can post it on the wall of your office, tweet it out to your followers or share it with a group of friends. While sharing your resolution does not guarantee that you will make it happen, keeping it a secret almost certainly means that you will not.


December 31, 2018 at 03:01PM
https://www.forbes.com/sites/meghanmccormick/2018/12/31/for-founders-the-new-year-is-a-time-for-business-resolutions/
Forbes – Entrepreneurs
http://www.forbes.com/entrepreneurs/
http://bit.ly/2CMy7Yu