We’re heading into the new year now, and time is flying for everyone – none moreso than small business owners who not only carry out their core business activity, but also the strategising, accounting and admin for their business.
So often, small business owners are so busy doing the work that they never get the chance to actually take stock of their business, but the good news is that January is notoriously a quiet month, so here are five tasks that should be tackled in this slow period.
1. Set Goals for the Year
What do you want your business to achieve this year – are you launching a new product, do you want to bring your business online, are you planning an extension to your premises?
Whatever it is, write it down.
Goals should be SMART- i.e. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely – this will ensure that you can measure your performance against your goal.
For example, I want my business to achieve an online presence is not a SMART goal. I want my business to achieve an online presence with 2,000 Facebook followers and 1,000 Instagram followers by 31 December 2020 is a SMART goal. Alternatively, I want to increase my sales is not a SMART goal – I will increase sales by 5% this year is.
2. Plan Out Your Year
As a business owner, you probably have a good idea of what lies in store for your business for the coming year, but it’s good practice to map it out. It will also help to formulate a detailed plan to achieve the goals you have set out in Step 1.
For example, if my small business was a hair salon and I was planning out my year, it would be something like this:
Setting out a plan for your year will assist with steps 3 and 4, and it helps to focus your mind on the opportunities you have to improve your business in the year ahead.
3. Prepare a Budget for 2020
Small business owners often struggle to get a solid grasp on their business’s finances. Their financial performance is based on the cash in the bank, or the number of customers they’ve had that week. The best way to get on top of your finances is come up with an expectation for the year, i.e. a budget. Ideally a budget will be included on your accounting system (as this will facilitate comparison of budget to actual), but a simple excel spreadsheet will suffice, the main thing is that the year is broken down by month/ week/ day to give you a good idea of where your business will be in a year’s time.
Start out with your expected sales, and then your expected costs – always leave a contingency for unexpected costs.
If your SMART goal at Step 1 was to increase sales, this is where you breakdown how you are going to actually increase your sales by thinking about the weeks and months that you expect to be busiest.
You can compare your actual performance to budget throughout the year, and knowing where your business is financially gives great peace of mind.
4. Prepare Your Digital Marketing Plan
You’ve established your plan for the year ahead at Step 3, and you know that you’ll be able to increase your sales if you improve your online presence, but it’s something that always falls by the wayside.
Your business’s online presence is the modern day shop window. It’s a vital element of your business, and must be managed actively.
We all know that the internet can be a black hole for time, but if you invest time in preparing a digital marketing plan for your business and stick to it, you won’t need to worry about wasted time.
Digital marketing is most effective when it’s natural – posting endless streams promoting your business or product will entice very few people to engage with you.
The first step is to define your business’s online personality, establish your goals (again, these need to be SMART) and then define your resources in terms of time and money that you are willing to invest in your digital marketing plan.
You must also consider your buyers’ personas – which platforms do they use, what do they like to see? You don’t have to use all the platforms available to you, only the ones which are most used by your customers.
You can then link your digital marketing plan into your annual plan – this will ensure that you’re prepared to casually promote your business, which increases its effectiveness!
It takes time to get into a routine with it, but consistency is key and once you’re in the habit, it’ll become second nature.
You may wish to complement your digital marketing with traditional marketing – for example trade shows, flyer drops, newspaper advertising etc. This should all be linked together in your annual plan – each element should complement the other.
5. Close Out the Previous Year
Before you move into (hopefully!!) another busy year, ensure that your books and records for 2019 are in order – the last thing you want to be doing in June 2020 is rummaging around looking for a receipt relating to something you bought in November 2019.
Best to start the New Year, and a new decade, off with a clean slate!
Cloud based technology, like Xero and Receiptbank, make bookkeeping a simple task – no longer do you need to worry about boxes of receipts. Once you are set up, bookkeeping is as simple as taking a snap on your phone and a few clicks of a button. Contact us today to find out more.
I hope you have found this useful, feel free to contact me if you would like any help with the above, or just to have a chat about your business – Happy New Year!