Start the New Year on a High Note

Are you looking forward to a great beginning for your small business in 2015? To set off on the best path possible, it’s important to not only reflect on the past, but set the course for the upcoming year. Before you jump into planning for the future, consider these business elements.

  • Review your current status. Ask yourself questions about customers, service, and costs. Did you do what you set out to do what you planned for the previous year? Did you meet customers’ needs? Did you products and/or services perform as expected? What problems did you encounter? How did you handle them? Did you keep accurate track of the costs associated with doing business? How did your costs vary from your expectations?
  • Reflect on ways that you could be doing business more effectively. Investigate all of your major expenses and cost centers. Are you in the right location? Are the lease terms negotiable? What are your expansion plans? How will growth be funded? Do you have the needed equipment? Do you have the technology you need to complete your work? How about to grow your business? Who are your team members? Are they performing as expected? What key roles do you need to fill in order to grow? How are you developing professionally? What knowledge investments would best serve your organization?
  • Take stock of your financial position. Investigate how all incoming and outgoing funds are allocated within your business. How is your cash flow? Do you have enough capital? Have you borrowed funds? Is borrowing an option? Have you reviewed the product types and terms of repayment? How are you tracking costs? Are your costs being captured in full? How are you meeting your growth needs?
  • Review your organization’s position, both internally and externally. Consider the strengths and weaknesses within your company as well as identify the opportunities and threats that exist in your market area.

Plan for success

Once you’ve gathered insights from this careful review, use this information to your advantage in future planning. As you consider 2015, make sure to set goals. Research has suggested that in order to be useful, goals need to be SMART or simple, measurable, actionable, reasonable, and timely. But, goals alone are not enough to get your business to the next level. As you plan for the future and set goals and objectives, don’t neglect to put the work into the strategy of how you’ll make all of your planning come to fruition. In an article in Harvard Business Review, Graham Kenny states that you must also:

  • Identify stakeholders key to success;
  • Know what is needed from key stakeholders; and,
  • Determine what stakeholders need from you.

Continue reading “A List of Goals is Not a Strategy” here.

While a thorough review and planning for 2015 might seem like a daunting challenge, the effort will be well worth it. Knowing where you stand and the direction for the future can set you apart from the competition and make your organization more profitable than ever before!