For many of us, 2017 was a doozy, but we here at Brit + Co are ready to hit refresh in 2018! Follow our Hit Refresh series through January for new ideas, hacks, and skills that will help you achieve (and maintain!) those New Year’s resolutions.

Owning a business can be a unique and liberating experience. As your own boss, you get to call the shots and make important decisions about your brand, like how it’ll look and what its vibe will be. You also get to plan in the direction of your dreams and tune in to your inner instinct, creating and selling your products or services exactly how you want to. But with so much good stuff to consider, what should you focus on — and when? Microsoft recently surveyed more than a thousand business owners to answer these questions: Read on to find out what they identified as top entrepreneurial priorities.

A woman works in her home office

1. Introduce a new product or service. The Microsoft survey found that small biz owners are all about showcasing something new in the current year, with just under 40 percent of participants noting that they’ll introduce a new product or service. While having an attractive core offering is key when starting out, eventually expanding upon it in relevant areas (such as introducing a free podcast, paid resource, or new product for sale) is a great way to grow revenue or build a community around a company and brand. Are you just starting a side hustle or brand new business? The best thing you can do right now is nail the basics while putting solid processes in place. Once you’re cruising like a sailboat on still waters, you’ll be in super shape to begin getting feedback from your community so you can decide which innovation or idea to tackle next.

2. Launch a new marketing strategy. Spreading the word about your work or products is how you’ll make money, so knowing exactly how and where to talk about your product is critical to that success. Smart business owners know that trying new approaches and marketing tactics is a surefire way to figure out what really works, so it’s no surprise that over a third of the people Microsoft talked to say they plan to execute on a new marketing strategy in the coming year. Though many old-school marketing tactics like word-of-mouth, cold-calling, and print ads can still work really well, the rise of digital media has made it easier than ever to dabble online. Investing time in a social media strategy can help you truly tap into the powers of platforms like Facebook and Instagram, while brushing up on SEO basics for your business blog or learning about how to use paid ads for your products will give you additional avenues to share what you make or do.

3. Give back to the community. We were ultra-inspired to find that giving back is an important goal for respondents and their companies — just over a third say it’s important enough to put at the top of their list in the coming year. Whether it’s through organizing and running fundraisers and charity drives, making donations, or offering mentorship, there’s no doubt that businesses can make a big impact on people nearby.

When it came to additional goals for the new year, small business owners named teaming up with fellow small business owners (19 percent) and finding a mentor (six percent) as items on their radar. Not surprising at all, these stats help prove that networking and thoughtful collaboration can make a major difference when it comes to achieving success.

Do you own your own business? Tell us about your 2018 priorities on Twitter @BritandCo!

(Photo via Getty)