New Year's resolutions are habitually put in place in order to improve our lives or reach a particular goal. It's all about aspirations. And who's more aspirational than a business owner? The ones who seize the opportunity to make themselves and their businesses great. If you have that entrepreneurial spirit – you'd know that planning is key in reaching your goals.
But first, let's talk timing
The start of a new year can actually be pretty quiet for some small businesses. Making it the ideal time to pause, think and plan. You probably already believe your business could benefit from cost saving and new systems. Making it reasonable that you carve out some time to give it the once-over. So what should you have in your 2019 toolkit?
#1. An up-to-date business plan
One of the most important tools you can have in your arsenal is a strategic business plan. This is your roadmap for the year ahead. It helps all parties get on the same page. Ensuring that visions are aligned, budgets are available and pitfalls are anticipated. Make sure yours is still relevant by comparing year-on-year actuals and variables. Then cross-reference these with new plans and fresh goals.
#2. Available cash-flow
Now you have a plan in place. Make sure you have the cash-flow to make this happen. Cash-flow is like air for your business. It doesn't matter how cutting-edge your plans are, without working capital to finance it, it's all theory. The good news is that there are ways to facilitate this. One way would be to get your overdraft facility in place. The other way is to apply for finance. A cash advance can be a great way to get access to quick funding. In as little as 48 hours in fact. This should be a priority at the start of your working year.
#3. A clear marketing and communications strategy
No matter how good your product or service is if nobody knows about it you are won't sell very much. It is vital that you come up with a communications strategy that clearly explains your product. And creates a convincing argument to compel customers to use it. It's likely that as the small business owner you spend most of your time on operational issues. But bear in mind that having a marketing strategy in play will ultimately drive sales and help you do your job better.
#4. A consolidated calendar
Now that you have a business plan and communications strategy in place, one of the most important small business tools is a calendar. Think about how quickly the year moves. So as tedious as the process is, it is well worth syncing calendars with all the micro-activity that will make up your long-term wins. Then stick to them.
#5. Strong small business tools rest on relationships
Quiet periods are a great time to touch base with your customers in a personal way. Don't rely solely on your staff to give you feedback on customer experience. There is no better way to understand what your customer thinks then by asking them yourself. The personal contact will be a welcomed interaction. And you can only benefit from the experience.
#6. A good IT infrastructure
The systems that worked for you last year, may not work for you now. Take the time to do a consolidated audit of all your IT systems. Consider if there is a way to pool resources, upgrade your Wifi or backup your office devices. This is often a place you can save costs, so its definitely worth investigating.
A new year holds the potential for so much. Often this is exciting. But it can also be daunting. The key to your success (and sanity) rests in careful planning and baby steps to help it all happen. With these key small business tools in place, hopefully, 2019 can be one for books!