3 New Year’s Themes (Not Resolutions) for Startup Founders

Climb 4I like the idea of choosing New Year’s themes better than making resolutions. Resolutions are too all-or-nothing. Plus, breaking a resolution has the effect of lowering the resolve in your head, often leading to dropping the resolution altogether. Themes on the other hand are not all-or-nothing. With a New Year’s theme, you apply effort to the theme topic at the pace that fits your current life situation. Even with ebbs and flows in activity, continuing to work at the theme ultimately pays nice dividends.

Here are three New Year’s themes that will make you a better entrepreneur in 2015.

Get those plans out of your head.

Most entrepreneurs carry a jumble of really good plans and ideas around in their heads and only let them out in fits and spurts. Making a specific effort to write your plans down forces you to organize, and most importantly, choose which of those ideas make the cut.
You could start by documenting a handful of big milestones for your startup. Then list the to-do items that support making each milestone happen. Choosing forward looking milestones gives your efforts focus, helps you decide which activities are most important, and always gives you an answer to the question “What should I work on next?”
I’m a big fan of documenting startup plans in a timeline style on a whiteboard or large sheets of paper. Get them out of the computer and into the open—viewable by everyone involved. Stand up, talk about the plans, make notes, assign resources, and push toward making real outcomes.

Do more high-risk things.

I’m not talking about snowboarding down K2 or throwing rocks at a baldfaced hornet’s nest. But rather, periodically force yourself to take action that is outside of your comfort zone. For example, you might say, “Oh, I could never call our key client and ask if there is anything we can do better.” Or, “It would be insane to email our competitor and offer them ideas for collaborating in our product space.”

For most of us, it doesn’t take much to come up with a short list of actions that we are not comfortable doing in our startup. Make your list and follow the high-risk theme by checking items off over the course of the year.

Make some effort to align your high-risk activities with your big startup milestones, but also don’t overthink it too much—boundary pushing action is way better than doing the nothing at all.

One of my favorite quotes reminds me to push my boundaries:

“Be bold, and mighty forces will come to your aid.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Run.

Run what?

No, I really mean run—get our on the road or trail and run.

When you push your body physically, all kinds of good things happen. Ideas emerge, solutions reveal themselves, anxieties fade, and endorphins surge.

Running is hard. Startups are hard. The more you learn to take on hard things, the better your chances of winning. You’ll learn to push past the voice in your head telling you to quit. Dealing with that voice when running teaches you how to deal with that voice when it speaks up in other situations.

If you are not a runner and want to give it a try, there tons of resources that will help you get started. The folks at Couch to 5K (www.c25k.com) have a well structured program to help new runners get started.

This article was written by Steve Poland. Steve is an advisor to startups and the co-founder of 1×1 Media, a publisher of how-to content for startup founders and aspiring entrepreneurs. Steve and his co-founder, Lisa Bucki, are the developers of the Startup Crash Course series and the new Founder’s Pocket Guide series.