Winter brings a month of new beginnings – not just a new year, but the first quarter – a time to set benchmarks and get a jump start on achieving them. There’s another new year that begins in the first quarter and that’s the Chinese New Year which occurs on February 16th this year. While the annual celebration may mean more to me as a Chinese-American immigrant than it does to others, the holiday also offers important business lessons.
For those unfamiliar with Chinese New Year traditions, here are a few that relate specifically to important aspects of running a successful home business:
We need to show gratitude to those who help us achieve success. According to legend, the ancient Gods of Wealth and Prosperity come down from “above” on the 5th day of the weeklong celebration, and Chinese businesses will often perform a very loud “thank you” for a year of fortune by setting off firecrackers.
Remember Your Roots
Ever see the dancing dragons at a local Chinese New Year celebration and wonder why these mythical beasts are featured so prominently? According to ancient Chinese mythology, people are descended from dragons, so dancing dragons also remind people to remember the roots of their success. While each Chinese year is represented by an animal of the Chinese astrology (2018 is the Year of the Dog), dragons are universally present in many cultural celebrations because they also represent prosperity, good luck and good fortune.
Chinese New Year traditions also focus on the importance of having compassion for those less fortunate. The annual “hong bao” red envelope ritual features giving of red envelopes filled with money to children or unemployed adults. Today, that tradition has extended to giving red envelopes with money to include all those who are younger than you, representing a wish for good fortune and good health.
While the Chinese New Year celebrations are one example of cultural new beginnings, they illustrate the global importance of making fresh starts. In business globally, the year is divided into quarters, which offers entrepreneurial leaders key points to reflect, assess, strategize, pivot and move forward.
How do new beginnings help us move forward? In my book “Fearless Living: 8 Life-Changing Values for Breakthrough Success,” I identify ways to use these fresh starts on the calendar to support business objectives. Here are business-focused questions you can ask yourself – each day, month, quarter and year – to keep moving forward:
1. What did you find that worked? What did you discover didn’t work?
- Maintain an awareness and documentation of what is driving your business forward and what may be holding it back.
- Keep a digital or written log of where you are in meeting your goal, and how collaborating and networking are contributing.
- Be aware of where to improve and remember: Don’t settle for good enough, don’t give in to doubt and don’t give up. Establish a timeline and list of actions you will take to improve those areas you’ve identified.
2. What do you need today – and tomorrow?
- Make sure you have all the tools you need to continue to succeed.
- Learning a new skill can be valuable, so be clear on what would positively improve your professional and personal development.
- Make a plan to learn what you want and need to know.
3. Do you have a long-term strategy?
- Even in reflecting daily on setting and achieving realistic objectives, it’s essential to identify, visualize and write down what you want “more” of and have a definitive strategy on how to get it.
- Ongoing business benchmarks should be moving you ahead on your business plan.
- Remember, as a home business owner, you are ultimately the one who is accountable for achieving your objectives.
4. Are you flexible?
- Even the most solid, long-term plan may need adjustments, so always be prepared to pivot. Modify how you reach your goal – not the goal itself.
- Making your business plan a living document means you can always change for the better. Adjustments don’t mean failure because in fact, each step forward brings new learning to apply to future success. Remember to give yourself enough time before changing too quickly though –it’s a delicate balance between needing to pivot and pivoting prematurely.
- Consider beginnings of the month or quarter as perfect points to make changes if they are needed.
5. Where are you going?
- It may seem obvious, but knowing where you want to go with your business is essential to success.
- Once you define your business purpose, identify what it will take to achieve your goals.
- Be purposeful in actually visualizing and articulating what you want to achieve.
- Make sure you are prepared to put in the time from the start. Having mental endurance and resiliency to setbacks will keep you on track.
As the year unfolds, take a cue from the Chinese New Year: prepare to move your business forward, every day of the year.
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