3 NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS THAT WILL TRANSFORM YOUR BUSINESS IN 2013

The New Year isn’t just about making resolutions in your personal life; it presents a primeopportunity to focus on simple goals that will streamline the way your business functions for the entire year. Here are three simple New Years’ Resolutions guaranteed to transform your business.

1.Get your financial house in order.
As if striking the balance between parenting and professional obligations doesn’t keep you busy enough, work at home moms are faced with a whole new set of entrepreneurial challenges that life before self-employment didn’t necessarily entail, including the legal and financial obligations of owning your own business. 
Though you may operate your business from the comforts of home, it is in your best interest to keep your personal and professional finances as separate as possible. Set a goal to get your businesses’ financial house in order by completing the following steps before the end of February:  Apply for an EIN online with the Internal Revenue Service, complete the necessary paperwork to register your business appropriately as either a limited liability corporation (specific laws and fees will depend on the state you operate in) or S corporation (if you qualify), to further protect your personal assets. If you haven’t established a business checking account, or started to form a unique credit history for your business, now’s the time. Likewise If you haven’t yet established a retirement account intended for business owners, whether its a self-employed 401k, SEP-IRA or SIMPLE. Once you’ve checked those items off of your list, set a goal to educate yourself on the more complex aspects of running a business, like securing necessary insurance coverage (like short term disability), and learning how to properly plan for quarterly tax payments, to maximize small business tax breaks.

2. Plan for growth.
Of course you want your business to grow, but do you have a plan in place for how? Start the year by examining your current sources of revenue, and focusing on what you can do to work smarter, instead of harder. Are there additional decision-makers at one your current clients that you haven’t reached out to, but might have a budget for your products or service?  Are there high-traffic trade shows that you know are a prime source for networking in your industry but you’ve put off attending in the past? Maybe there are few clients that you’re ready to sever ties with, due to a lack of profitability. Make a plan that details exactly the steps you’ll take to move forward in business this year, and set benchmarks you’ll need to hit at the end of each month in order keep yourself focused, on track, and accountable—even when your “New Year’s Resolution” zest starts to wane.

3. Invest in yourself. 
Business investments don’t relate only to money; it’s just as important to dedicate the time required to grow your own knowledge. When you’re self-employed and working from home, distractions abound, and you may struggle to keep the business you have built afloat, let alone introducing more complexity by learning new skills or changing your processes. But, reactionary patterns hold you back from realizing your professional potential, and can eventually lead to burn out. Kick the new year off by identifying at least one business tactic that you know you’re currently lacking in, and commit to investing the time needed to learn how to use it, to fuel growth. The goal can be anything you know will benefit your business including becoming more web savvy, researching tools to simplify your order tracking and inventory management, streamlining how you ship and assemble products, brushing up on digital photography skills to better present your products, learning how to improve your billing, or mastering Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest.

Stephanie Taylor Christensen is a former financial services marketer turned stay at home working mom, yoga instructor and freelance writer covering personal finance, small business,consumer issues, work-life balance and health/wellness topics for ForbesWoman, Minyanville , SheKnows , Mint , Intuit Small Business, Investopedia and several other online properties. She is also the founder of Wellness On Less and Om for Mom prenatal yoga. Stephanie wrote this feature article exclusively for Debbie May.com (www.DebbieMay.com), an organization dedicated to helping small businesses succeed.