When people make New Year’s resolutions, they’re often personal. What were yours this year? Were you planning to lose weight? Exercise more? Save money? If you’re an entrepreneur or business owner, you might consider using 2018 to make an intentional choice to improve a specific area of your business.
If you didn’t create a set of New Year’s resolutions for your business, it’s not too late to choose some areas you’d like to work on, and set some SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound) to help you measure your success throughout the year. We have five recommendations to get you started thinking about what you could accomplish during the next 11 months.
- Create or Update Your Business Plan
If you don’t already have a business plan, it’s definitely time to create one. Keep it simple by developing a One- Page Strategic Plan. If you already have a plan, however, it’s time for a review. As the founding partner of AMDG Financial and AMDG Tax & Accounting, I scheduled a team retreat last week to review our business plans. Our retreat provided newer employees an idea of where we’ve been, which proved especially helpful in framing where we’re going. It also provided an opportunity to discuss our overarching mission and our deep commitment to our clients, our community and each other. Our longer-serving team members also benefited by having the chance to review this information. I’m a strong believer in making sure we all have a clear sense of purpose and that we remain on the same page, because that shared understanding motivates our team to create opportunities for collaboration and support throughout the year in service to our clients, our community and each other. For some ideas on how to create your own employee offsite meeting, check out this article from the Harvard Business Review.
- Get a Better Handle on Cash Flow
To be prepared for opportunity, or to hedge against lean times, all businesses – regardless of size – should actively manage cash flow. In fact, one statistic attributed to a U.S. Bank Study showed that 82 percent of businesses that fail do so because of cash-flow problems.
The first step to mastering cash flow is tracking. You must know what is coming in, where it is coming from, and where that cash is being spent. Wondering where to begin? Verne Harnish offers a few tips to help you with your cash flow in his book, Scaling Up. In it, you’ll find an entire section on managing cash.
Once you have a better picture you can begin the second step: forecasting. Try mapping out your chart of accounts so you can better understand the flow of money in your organization. This will help you find the pain points. You can then plan ahead of time to manage those pain points properly, before they become a problem. Greg Crabtree’s Simple Numbers is a great resource.
The final step is to monitor your progress. Are you in line with your forecast? Did you spend more or less than predicted in certain areas of your business? Do you know what your burn rate is for your business? Once you structure your chart of accounts properly, you can monitor and check in often to make sure you are on track. You can adjust when necessary to get ahead of any potential hang-ups.
Have you had a bad hiring experience in your small business? If so, you’re not alone. According to Robert Half, more than 80 percent of managers and small business owners have reported making a poor hire. Of those, nearly half blamed the result on the complexity of the hiring process, while 65 percent cited problems with their hiring procedures.
This year, get ahead of the game. If you haven’t established a process for hiring, consider developing your own assessment tool to find and filter a good fit before you expect to make your first hire. You might try a tool like Thinkwise to ensure your candidate is a good cultural fit; then use Kolbe A to assess their instincts and determine whether those instincts are what you need for that job position. Even if you don’t anticipate hiring in 2018, act as if you are. When you meet someone who impresses you with his/her industry knowledge, abilities, background or drive, add that person to your professional network and keep in touch. That way, when you do have an open position, it will be easy to find that particular contact who just may make a great candidate.
- Aligning Your Branding and Marketing Efforts
It’s easy to lose sight of branding and marketing efforts without a designated staff person to keep tabs on it. But small businesses can -- and should -- take steps to ensure all parts of the company appear aligned from a branding and marketing standpoint. As Katie Lundin of Crowdspring notes, consistent branding can increase a company’s perceived value. So, where to start? Take a look at how you use your logo across multiple channels – from the sign out front to your website, social media channels, business cards, letterhead, even your email signatures. If your logo, mission statement, colors, or business description vary, you may need to update your logo, the font you use for communication, your writing style, the way you talk about your business, and the value your business brings to customers.
Well-organized companies often keep a style guide for employees to use when communicating about the business. You can read more about it, and download a template here.
- Consider Working with a Financial Adviser
As I mentioned in a blog last September, some entrepreneurs become so focused on growth that they can forget about their own personal finances. A fiduciary adviser can serve as a sounding board, accountability coach, an objective third party, and can help you evaluate risk. In addition, they can assist with diversifying your investments to help keep your finances stable, and work with you to minimize taxes while you save for retirement.
I’ve used all the tools suggested here, and they have contributed significantly to breaking through growth ceilings. Taking a fresh approach, or focusing on one or two key areas, may be just the catalyst your business needs to break through to the next level of growth. Not sure where to start? We can help. Schedule a complimentary appointment to discuss your needs and how AMDG Financial can help. We would love to explore working together with you to succeed in 2018!