It’s that time of year again; time to start planning for the new year. The new year is a great reason to reflect on the past year and clean the slate for the new year to set your business up for success. Here are 8 things you can do to position your small business for success in the new year.
Create a plan
You would never head off on a trip without a map to get you to your final destination, so why should the direction of your business be any different? Start by taking a look at what worked and did not work this past year. Is there anything you did that worked exceptionally well or exceptionally not so well? For the things that went well see if you can continue them or modify them to achieve even better results. For the items that did not go so well either push them to the back burner or evaluate if there are changes you can make that might yield better results. Then the fun part is coming up with new ideas, are there new areas of your business, you can tap into that you may have neglected like customer retention or marketing? Know that this is just a road map that needs to be revisited throughout the year and modified based on the results you are seeing, but it is a good place to start so you don’t get to the end of the year and wonder why you did not meet your budget goals for the year.
Set a budget
With the start of the new year, now is the time to project your sales and estimate your expenses for the next twelve months. This will give you an idea of the things you can include in the above plan and keep you on the right financial track for the year. It will also help you to set revenue goals that you and your staff can work towards.
Evaluate your systems, procedures and staffing
It is easy, as a small business owner, to keep doing things the way you always have because it seems simpler and less time consuming than evaluating if there is a better more efficient way to do it. Use the start of the new year as your reason to evaluate how you do things, the tools you use to get them done and the employees you have doing them. With all the new technology out there, are there tools you can use to save time or make certain tasks easier? Does your equipment need to be traded in for a new model? Do you have an employee who is not well suited for their job role or is bringing everyone down? Some of these things may cost a little more now but in the end can save you money, time and headaches.
Update your website
It’s easy to forget about your website once it is set up. However, it is important to make sure it is always accurate, engaging and up to date with information about your company. Not to mention that search engines like web pages that are updated and not static.
Set-up reminders on your calendar for things that are often overlooked
As a small business owner, you wear many hats and there are often not enough hours in the day making it easy for small things to get overlooked. Use the beginning of the new year as a reason to take a few minutes and add reminders to your calendar for things you might forget. This could include reminders for important birthdays, recurring financial responsibilities, five minutes to reward yourself for all that you do, time to reach out to important customers or time to check in with your employees.
Get an outsiders view
It is very easy to get tunnel vision about your business and only see what is going on in front of you. Use the holidays and the new year as an excuse to meet up for breakfast, coffee or lunch with people who you trust and respect that can give you a different perspective on factors that can affect your business.
Get your finances set-up for the new year
For many businesses January 1 means a new fiscal year and a new set of financial books. That makes now the perfect time to make sure everything is set up to accurately track your finances for the year. It will help you know the true financial standings of your company throughout the year. You will also need the information easily accessible and accurate come tax time or when dealing with a financial institution to secure a line of credit.
Thank your most valuable customers
Your best brand ambassadors are happy and satisfied customers. They are your best source for referrals of highly qualified new customers. The holidays and the start to the new year are a great excuse to take the time to identify who your most valuable customers are and send them a token of appreciation. Whether you send them a gift basket, a gift card or something else it is always nice to add a hand written note to let them know that you truly do value their business.