As a business owner, you’ve probably got a number of important goals that you would like to accomplish. And while it’s impossible to try and take on all of those tasks at once, the semi-blank slate of a new year provides the ideal landscape to develop your organizational goals and determine the plan for implementing those ideas over the next twelve months.
Since the first step toward realizing any goal is to put a solid plan in place, we’ve come up with a few resolutions that you can implement to help your business thrive in 2016.
Gain ground on your competition
Comparing your business to peers within the same industry is a common part of the business planning process. By researching and understanding your competitive landscape, you will not only be better equipped to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your key competitors, but you will also be able to navigate the marketplace and identify potential consumers of your product or service.
However, gaining a competitive edge doesn’t just end there.
When you’re a small business owner, it’s easy to get lost in the daily grind and put off opportunities to expand your knowledge base in favor of taking care of whatever task is directly in front of you.
But in order to remain relevant, small business owners must continue to grow and develop by pursuing some form of continuing education. If you find yourself in this situation, you’ll need to dedicate time in your calendar each week to assess the trends in your industry and seek out new ways to improve your skills.
There are plenty of options available from public speaking and accounting basics, to online marketing and much more. Just start by committing to learn one new skill per quarter. You’ll be surprised how something as simple as building on a knowledge deficit can help grow your business and likely your professional network as well.
Perform an insurance coverage check-up
Just as you should with your personal health, it’s always a good idea to schedule a check-up to determine the health of the insurance coverage in place for your business. If you’ve let a few years pass since the last time you spoke with your agent about the specific risks associated with your business, now is a great time to schedule that call.
As the news reflects on a daily basis, no one is safe from lawsuits in today’s hyper-litigious society. And a simple oversight can cause you to be liable for what someone else considers a “wrongful act”.
Instead of running the risk of inadequate coverage by simply relying on your Commercial General Liability policy to keep legal issues at bay, make sure that you are also covered with Errors and Omissions Insurance (also known as E&O). This policy add-on will help protect you from events such as actual or alleged errors, omissions, misleading statements, or breach of duty.
Take active management of your money
Oftentimes many business owners are so busy running and managing their enterprise, that they don’t check (or in some cases, understand) their financial statements. It is vitally important that small business owners are not only familiar with the intricacies of the financial statements that determine the health of their organization, but that they use them as a guide for future action.
While a bookkeeper or accounting professional can assist with some parts of this task, it should NEVER be fully delegated to an outside party.
Even businesses with strong sales and healthy growth projections run the risk of potential cash flow shortfalls. Make a concerted effort to spend time reviewing your financial reports at least once per month. By taking an active approach in the financial management of the company, you can quickly identify ways to reduce expenses and increase revenues if faced with unexpected circumstances.
Replace underperforming employees
Employees are the life-blood of any organization and in the case of small business, the smaller the enterprise, the more important each individual is to the success of the company. That is why it is imperative that one of your top resolutions for the new year must be to replace employees that don’t positively contribute to the bottom line.
Many small business owners will avoid replacing an underperforming performing employee simply because they lack the resources to handle the transition. Due to the sheer size of a small business, letting go of a person means more work for the remaining employees and more of your time spent recruiting and training. But keep in mind that this short-term inconvenience is far better than the long-term effects of a poor performer.
Keeping an underperforming employee on your team can not only hurt team morale, but you also run the risk of creating low expectations for other team members. This is one instance where the old adage, “It only takes one bad apple to ruin the bunch” absolutely rings true.
Like many New Year’s resolutions, the list may seem a bit daunting. But the effort involved is worth it — for the success of you and your business. Just remember to pace yourself and avoid trying to tackle everything at once! If you begin implementing the steps mentioned above, you will be well-positioned to achieve great things over the course of the year.