New Year, New You: How Setting the Right New Year’s Resolutions Can Jump Start Your Manufacturing Business

As 2020 finally comes to an end, nearly two-thirds of all Americans plan to take part in a long-standing tradition: making New Year’s resolutions. The most common resolutions are ones you’ve almost certainly heard before: quitting smoking, exercising more, spending more time with friends and family, etc. They’re good changes to make and, for those that keep them up, can result in a longer, happier life.

No matter what people resolve to do, studies show that more than 75% of them firmly believe they can make the changes they intend to and really make the change stick. But the reality kicks in: just over half will still have their resolution kept on February 1. So why bother making them at all?

The answer may be surprising: Whether someone actually meets their goal or not, the very act of making a resolution can be good for them. By focusing on what’s possible in the future, the challenges of the present start to look smaller and easier to overcome, leading to greater success in the long run.

So while most people likely have ideas about what they can do better in 2021, what about businesses? Just like people, businesses do best when they have a clear goal and a path to get there, meaning they, too, can benefit from the goal-setting and resolution-making process.

To help spur some ideas on where to start, here are five of the most common New Year’s resolutions and how they can be applied to help make 2021 a great year for your manufacturing business.

1. Get Healthy

Whether it’s exercising more or eating better, getting healthy is the most commonly made resolution virtually every year. For many manufacturers, 2021 is going to be about getting back to a healthy business with goals like beefing up the sales pipeline, streamlining operations, and improving efficiency.

By focusing on the specific growth you want to see in your business by the end of the year, it will be easier to prioritize what steps to take early in the year and what goals to set for the first few months.

Ensuring that your machines are being used as efficiently as possible is a good first step toward improving your business’ overall health, and job scheduling is the way to see whether that is happening right now, as well as how to fix it in the future. Once you have a handle on that, the rest of the workflow in your shop will fall more easily into place.

2. Stick to a Budget

In many years, this resolution takes the form of saving more money, but given that the personal saving rate is at its highest rate since 1959, it’s likely that individuals and businesses alike are hoping 2021 will be more of a time to spread their wings after a restrained 2020. Budgeting is a key exercise for business leaders in any year, but understanding what investments today will produce the biggest returns down the line is extra critical this year given how different 2021 is likely to be from 2020.

Demand in many sectors is already starting to recover, and with a COVID-19 vaccine now expected to be widely available in April or May, consumer demand should be strong for much of the year. Getting a 360 degree view of your enterprise, including potential upstream issues with supply, will help make sure the fluctuations in demand as the year progresses don’t catch your team by surprise.

3. Reduce Stress

Reducing stress may seem like a dream rather than a realistic goal to many business leaders, but having margin in both your personal life and business is critical to the long-term health of both.

While tips for reducing stress on a personal level usually involve things like exercise, getting out into nature, or reading more, it’s very difficult to get a CNC machine or extruder to meditate. So how do you reduce stress in your business?

Identifying pain points in your business and making specific plans to solve them will help reduce stress even before the plan is executed, because you’ll have developed a roadmap for how things are going to get better and even an idea of when. This eliminates the stress of uncertainty. It may be difficult or unpleasant at first to dwell on potential problems in your business, but without taking that first step, the issues will go unresolved and the collective stress level of your business will continue to rise.

4. Lose Weight

Sure, this is literal for most people — snack food manufacturers are up 8% during COVID-19 after all — but businesses can get into the same kinds of bad habits that lead to weight gain, like consistently looking for easy options, functioning without a plan, and even trying to cut back too much, leading to unwanted excess in parts of the business.

Getting a handle on job costing is a great step toward developing a healthy diet for your business. Good jobs with solid margins will build your business up, letting you cut out the fattier jobs that take too long, don’t use your facilities and staff efficiently, or are too input-intensive. Your business will run leaner and smoother, setting you up for long-term success!

5. Learn a New Skill

Most resolutions are about doing the same things better next year than they were done before, but the new year is also a great time to take on new challenges and evolve for both people and businesses. The trend in manufacturing may be toward specialization and increasingly focused shops, but those businesses that can take on additional work are still hugely valuable to customers as long as the execution level remains high across jobs.

A strong quality control program with in-process data collection will let you know whether your new capability is ready to strengthen your business or if it needs additional refinement. But once it meets your own high standards, you’ll be positioned to win more jobs and set yourself apart from the competition.

Whatever resolutions you make, we at Fulcrum wish you and your team a safe and prosperous 2021!

If any of these sound like resolutions your business needs to make, Fulcrum can help. Book a demo and let us help get your 2021 off to a great start!

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