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The first step to finding the success you want in life and in business is planning. If you approach your plan with the right mindset you’re most likely to achieve everything you hoped for. To start your new year on the right path I’m sharing this list of 5 things you can do to have an amazing 2013. But don’t wait until the end of the month­–start now!

Set specific goals. Think about the things you truly want for 2013: how much money you want to earn, new products you want to launch, how many publications you want to see your products featured in, anything your heart desires.

Keep your list somewhere visible to stay inspired and chart your progress in a notebook, day planner or even a document file on your computer. You’ll have accomplished more than you dreamed by the end of the year, and have a record of your achievements to inspire 2014.

Know everything about your target market. You need to know who your customers are to be able to give them what they truly want. Look at the facts you have and try to understand what they’re lifestyle is like, what books they read, activities they participate in, causes they support… everything!

One way to gather this information is to send a survey to your current customers. There are plenty of free online survey programs. I like SurveyMonkey. Another way to get to know your target market is to look at what your Pinterest followers pin, the boards they like and the other businesses they follow. Don’t under estimate the power of social media as a research tool.

Stop multitasking. Multitasking was a product of the 1990s when employers wanted to turn their employees into computers, able to perform several tasks at once. The problem was, it didn’t work. Trying to perform several tasks at once pulls your focus away from all of them and gives each only a fraction of your attention.

Instead, set times for each task and when the time is up move on to the next. Turn off you email and your phone whenever possible to avoid the distractions. At first it may be difficult to judge how much time each task will take, but once you get into the swing you’ll find yourself accomplishing more in less time.

Stop checking your email in the morning. What happens when you start your workday? If you’re like most people, you start with a task in mind, then check your email and then throw your plan out the window.

Set email checking times, 3 per day works for most people, and only check, send and return emails during those windows. It will improve your ability to concentrate and will hone your focus. If not checking your mail every 15 minutes makes you nervous think about this: Have you ever sent an email during a true emergency, like a fire or medical situation? Email feels like the most important form of communication these days, but when things are truly hairy we still pick up the phone because it’s immediate.

Get uncomfortable and do something that scares you. Operating outside of your comfort zone is a great way to grow as an individual and a business owner. Think about a really big goal, like getting your product in your favorite retailer, starting a video blog, attending a trade show or adding a partner to your business. Now take the butterflies in your stomach and imagine how they would feel if you succeeded. Hang on to that feeling and go for it!

{Featured image via Photography by Anita}