THE BLOG
01/23/2014 11:18 am ET Updated Mar 25, 2014

How Small Business Owners Can Avoid Insanity in 2014

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. - Albert Einstein

Making resolutions is a New Year's tradition that I both love and fear. There is nothing so full of raw hope and excitement as making yourself a promise to change. Expanding into new markets, adding a product line, hiring new employees - whatever we, as sustainable business owners, can dream of this is the month we allow ourselves to dream big and reach for the stars. No goal is too high; no obstacle too large, January is a month for making resolutions. It's the other 11 months of the year that I'm afraid of.

I wish I could say that every resolution made with a champagne toast in January comes to fruition by the following December. I wish it wasn't so easy to let the hustle and bustle of my daily responsibilities as a business owner sidetrack my resolve. I wish I could tell you that Einstein's famous quote about insanity doesn't apply to me on most days. I wish I could, but I can't. That's why this year I resolve to start doing things differently; a practice which Einstein indirectly assures us will yield different long term results.

If you're inspired to echo my resolution to keep our resolutions this year take heart, the first step is limiting the number of resolutions we make. It's tempting to rattle off a list of business goals you'd like to accomplish in 2014; after all, your level of success is only as high as the length of your list, right? Wrong. Making several resolutions at once only guarantees that not only will you not accomplish all your goals, but you may feel so overwhelmed by the amount of work ahead of you that you give up on all of them. This year we'll be limiting our business resolutions to one...maybe two.

Now that we've got a manageable to-do list, we're going to commit to actually doing them by sharing them with our employees, our vendors, our clients - everyone that can and will hold us accountable for our achievements. We're putting ourselves on the hook this year and the only way to be sure we'll come through is to make it actionable. Create a timeline, establish a deadline, build a task list, delegate responsibilities - in short, let's get this ball rolling. Forward movement is crucial because when our daily responsibilities call (and they will) we'll need this momentum to keep things moving toward our end goals.

You've heard the adage: success begets more success? As we keep inching toward our resolution a wonderful thing will happen: we'll start picking up speed. Tasks will be accomplished, intermittent deadlines will be fulfilled and suddenly our goals will be within reach. It's been said in hundreds of ways, baby steps, slow and steady wins the race, one thing at a time; but there is truth in these clichés. In the time between green cleaning homes on weekends to start GreenHouse Eco-Cleaning and hiring my fifth cleaning technician when the business gained its 100th client, I came to expect our growth to be fast. I forgot that the biggest goals are accomplished over time.

So this year, in the cold harsh light of 2014, I'm taking Einstein's advice and making a few small changes in order to stick to my business resolutions. I'm putting myself on the hook and I hope you'll join me there.

This blogger graduated from Goldman Sachs' 10,000 Small Businesses program. Goldman Sachs is a partner of the What Is Working: Small Businesses section.