As a business owner, you may have used the New Year break to rest and recuperate from the working year. January is commonly a quiet period for small business, so apart from spending some quality time with friends and family, it’s the ideal time to take stock of this year, examine what can be improved, and plan ahead for the growth of your business, writes Vital Addition CEO Lachlan Grant.
These ten straightforward tips should help you on plan for the year ahead.
- Goal setting
Goal setting is fundamental. Ask any entrepreneur and they’ll tell you it’s non-negotiable. By identifying exactly what you want to achieve (and by when) you’ll can then start to plan and strategise how to achieve it. Write down a step-by-step plan and then set a timeline to achieve those smaller tasks required to reach your goals. Goals don’t have to be grand, improving your marketing efforts, for example, or enroll in a course. Set deadlines, and hold yourself accountable.
- Track and assess your progress
January is the perfect time to assess your business goals halfway through the financial year. A mid financial year sanity check will also make Q3 and Q4 easier to manage. If you’re unsure or unhappy with how your business is tracking financially, it’s a good time to seek review your Business Plan and seek professional advice if it’s needed.
- Build or nurture your business support
Networking and connections can help you grow your business. Do you have strategies for growing your network (LinkedIn for example) and engaging support for your business? Why not join a local or online business networking group? Or arrange a coffee catch up with someone you know and whose opinion you value.
Share ideas and seek solutions. Talking through challenges can help you gain a different perspective on your own business, and open up new opportunities.
- Be more flexible
Flexibility and agility in the workplace are no longer simply buzzwords. Consider the hours you work, for example. When do you do your best work? When and how does your business generate the highest return? Are you capitalising on opportunities presented by your customers and problems they face? By thinking outside the box, you could get more out of your business, be more open to changes in strategy or direction, and generate an improved life-work balance.
- Acknowledge your imperfections
Not everyone can be good at everything. At Vital Addition we engage a diverse team of experts in various fields – accounting, wealth, and taxation – to serve the needs of our clients. You need to be honest with yourself and acknowledge your limitations. Determining what you aren’t good at means you can get the right training, or consider outsourcing to or employing someone who can help. Successful leaders are always continuing their education and training. So work on your strengths, but get help when you need it.
- Celebrate your successes
Celebrate your wins, big or small! If you forego that end of year break, take it during the year instead. Landed a big contract? Then celebrate and thank that client. Encourage them to write a testimonial, then circulate it. Use social media to make sure your successes get noticed. Rewards are great – for yourself, your team, and your business.
- Keep your finances in check
As a financial adviser, I strongly recommend performing regular financials checks. Develop good financial habits and do your bookkeeping regularly. January is the ideal time for a Q3 financial check, which can help you resolve issues fast, especially with your accounts receivables turnover. Doing this will take you into 2020 with clarity and help to identify opportunities before the end of the financial year.
- Utilise your working capital
Take the time to evaluate your working capital – current assets minus your current liabilities – and use it to plan for the year ahead. It can be used to grow your business, manage short term debts, or invest in opportunities for growth. Additionally maintaining a cash reserve from your working capital will enable you to meet unforeseen or sudden unexpected expenses.
- Focus on your customer
Take some time to look at your customer services practices, policies, and procedures. Ongoing, preemptive or follow-up communication is good for customer relations and your business. Customers that are happy with your service will stay, return to, and/or recommend you and your business. You can also take time to look at your complaints and issues handling. Putting policies in place to receive and deal with feedback can help you identify ways to improve your service and the customer experience.
- Prepare a realistic and sustainable growth strategy
January is a good time to prepare a growth strategy for 2020. You don’t have to go ‘bull at a gate’. Planning for sustainable growth is more important. Perhaps you could introduce another product or service line to your business? Or can you modify a product or service to target a different market? Look at what your competitors are doing (and what they aren’t), and focus on customer retention.
It’s all about clarity. What you do now for your business, such as keeping your finances in check, looking after customer relations, highlighting what you do well (and addressing what you don’t) will all pay dividends and you’ll move into 2020 with more confidence in yourself and clarity for your business.
Want more tips for how to get 2020 off to a great start check out these stories