Unless we’re scientists, photographers or graphic designers, we usually think of ‘resolution’ as meaning ‘the solving of a problem’ – or, if it’s New Year, ‘a stated intention’. But the original meaning of resolution is nearer to its scientific meanings: ‘to loosen, settle or undo’. Far from being about new beginnings and habits, it’s about breaking down what you’ve already got.
So here’s a radical idea. Since many of the intention-type New Year’s resolutions are counterproductive and/or doomed to failure, let’s get scientific about it!
Feel the Chemistry
The definition of resolution in a chemical sense is ‘the process of reducing or separating something into constituent parts or components’.
If you’re a freelancer or small business owner, this kind of resolution should see you taking a step back and looking at your services, working hours, workload, clients, customers, products or tasks as separate entities.
Freelancers: is there a service you offer that’s really not worth the time you put in? One client whose demands or pay rates spread gloom over your working week? A time of day or a day or the week when you’re not productive? It’s time to identify the parts of your working life that don’t work and either eradicate or change them, rather than cling to them out of habit.
Politely discard the troublesome client. Ditch the services you can’t offer competitively and focus on the one you can. Keep an honest work log, and once you’ve accepted what it shows – that you don’t ever get any real work done before 11 – schedule in an activity that takes up time somewhere else, such as food shopping, going to the gym or visiting your aunt Lil.
Small Business Owners: Do you stock products that don’t shift for weeks, or items that give you a miniscule return? Are there customers or suppliers whose late payments or deliveries are turning you into a source of interest free credit?
Find alternative suppliers and get tougher with the late payers, refusing to deal with them in future if this doesn’t work. Look at the products lines or services you offer and consider if any should be discontinued.
The definition of resolution in physics is ‘the replacing of a single force or other vector quantity by two or more jointly equivalent to it.’
The Problem: We’re in an age of do it all. We’re encouraged to have a go at things previously left to experts and qualified practitioners, because there’s snazzy software that claims it makes everything easy or YouTube videos to teach us how to do just about anything, if we only had the time to watch them. We can easily become ‘a single force’.
But there’s a lot to be said for narrowing your focus on your talents or expertise – the things you do that make you money. There’s also a lot to be said for letting others do what they’re good at, and saving your pottering with things you only half-understand for your free time.
Are all the tasks you do worth the time you spend on them? How much are you worth an hour doing what you’re good at – and how much money are you making when you spend the whole day on amateur attempts to fix your website?
The Solution (or should that be Resolution?!): Look at all the tasks that make up your working week, month, year and consider if they would be better divided up; if your ‘single force’ would be better replaced by ‘two or more jointly equivalent’ to it.
This could mean outsourcing to a company or freelancer, employing staff full or part-time, or hiring a sub-contractor. The typical tasks that people leave to experts include:
Accountancy services: bookkeeping, financial advice, payroll, VAT, tax returns etc.
Graphic design for brochures, leaflets and posters etc.
Website design and maintenance
Social media management
You may also decide that some of the everyday tasks are best delegated too. How much more could you get done if you didn’t need to answer the phone, deal with email queries and input details into the database?
Maybe a subcontractor could take on some of your basic bread-and-butter work, leaving you with more time to pursue more complex, high profile projects and higher-paying clients – or perhaps they could add another string to your bow, adding their expertise to yours so that you can offer a new product or service?
Hopefully, you’ve found this way of looking at your work useful.
Good luck with your scientific resolutions!
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We work very closely with our expert accountants to bring you the latest factually correct tax and accounting news. We also enjoy writing about small business news that we hope you find useful!