New Year small-business hacks to get through a challenging 2024

After a year of widespread uncertainty and challenging business conditions, small businesses must take stock of their strengths and shore up reserves in anticipation of another challenging year ahead. Lack of capital and cashflow along with labour supply issues and the usual cycle of overwork and stress will put many a business owner on the fast track to burnout.

With one in five business owners suffering from a diagnosed mental health condition, it’s fair to say it’s the nature of small business and entrepreneurship to weigh heavily on business owners’ mental health. In keeping up with the demands of running a business, entrepreneurs often find themselves hurtling towards stress, anxiety, and depression.

To protect their wellbeing, business owners must take charge of their mental health by being proactive and taking things one day at a time to build resilience in themselves and their business. Always remember, ‘this too shall pass’. Adopting a mindset of simplicity will help businesses focus on what truly matters.

As someone with experience in overcoming anxiety and self-doubt in my personal life and as an entrepreneur, I believe in the power of positive habit formation, self-awareness, and practical goal-setting to navigate difficult times.

The new year presents a unique opportunity for small businesses to reassess and realign. In these times of high inflation, cost pressures, and general economic strain, it’s vital for small business owners to focus on mental health and self-care, not just to survive, but thrive. 2024 should be taken as a year of recalibration, simplicity, and preparation for bluer skies.

With that in mind, my top mindset tips for small businesses in 2024 are:

  1. Prioritise with purpose: Identify what’s critical for your business – be it customer satisfaction, product innovation, or team wellbeing. Clarity in priorities can drive better resource allocation and decision-making.
  2. Practice active engagement: Encourage proactive engagement in business decisions. 2024 should be a year of purpose rather than passive drifting. This approach enhances team morale and makes it easier for the business to cleave to its mission.
  3. Combat negativity: Everyone has negative thoughts but it’s how you deal with them that matters. Cultivate a culture that encourages positive thinking and a solutions-focused attitude.
  4. Cultivate self-awareness: Understanding your strengths, weaknesses, and business values is key to making a real impact.
  5. Embrace simplicity and resilience: Simplify processes and operations to withstand tough times. Lean operations can lead to more efficient and effective business practices.
  6. Focus on what you can control: Direct your energy towards aspects of your business you can influence, like customer service, product quality, and team training.
  7. Discipline equals freedom: Establish consistent routines and habits within your team to build discipline.
  8. Build lasting habits: Automate key business processes where possible to maintain consistency and efficiency.
  9. Set achievable goals: Adopt the SMART framework for goal-setting to ensure realistic, achievable objectives for your business.
  10. Choose action over hope: Focus on actionable steps rather than relying solely on hope and positivity. Consistent small actions lead to results.
  11. Lay the groundwork for future opportunities: Use 2024 to prepare your business for future growth and opportunities. Planning and preparation can position your business to capitalise on emerging trends and markets.

Small changes in mindset and strategy can significantly impact how small businesses navigate complex challenges. With practice comes a sense of optimism, confidence, hope, and a sense that you can find your way through anything no matter how hard it gets in 2024 and beyond.