It’s a new year!
New year, new resolutions, new opportunities.
2018 is a year of possibilities, but only if you make an effort to improve.
This year, make your resolutions less about you and more about your business.
Analyze and audit your budget
How much money did your business spend last year? Did all of those investments or maintenance costs do what you wanted them to do? Go through your budget carefully to look for areas where you can cut back spending or reinvest for greater growth and profit. There is no sense throwing good money after bad – especially if you didn’t realize just how much money you were wasting.
Investigate your tax situation
If it’s been a few years since you sat down with an accountant, it might be time to do a bit of digging. What is your current tax situation? Are there investments you can make that would pay off in deductions? Are you paying more in taxes than you need to? You should know the answers to these questions and be ready and knowledgeable about your tax position every year.
Update your websites
Websites always need fine-tuning, but have you gone through yours lately to check for broken links, out-of-date information and irrelevant offerings? Businesses change and your website should be changing along with it.
Expand your web presence
If you’ve been building up your business you may not have taken the time to also build up your web presence. This is a great time to get started with new social media accounts, new forum accounts and a new presence in industry groups and circles. You don’t have to spend hours per day online to have a good online presence, but your name should be out there contributing to industry discussion.
Look for opportunities to reinvent
If you are tired of one area of your business or you would rather take your business in a new direction, use the energy you’re feeling at the beginning of a new year to propel you in a new direction. Reinvent your business or just a single part of your business to be more profitable or simply more enjoyable.
Streamline and look for efficiencies
Waste is the enemy of profits. The more wasted product, time and energy you have, the more money you are potentially leaving behind. Look for ways to streamline your routines and operations so that your business is as efficient and functional as possible.
Look for networking opportunities
The passage of time brings new industry members and new possibilities. Look around for new opportunities for networking both in your area and online. Build relationships with others who might inspire you, motivate you, keep you on your toes, or connect to others when it’s time to take your business to the next level.
Revisit all expenses
Even if you feel confident that your business is running as smoothly as possible, take some time and look over all of your expenses for the year. You should always know where your money is going and how much it takes to make your business run. Consider this information gathering, but it is also an excellent time to look for providers who may be able to shave a few dollars off a hosting bill or website maintenance.
Delegate and expand resources
You are only one person and you can only do so much. You can push yourself for a while beyond your typical limits, but eventually you’re going to have to take a step back and find others to help carry the load. Look for areas you can delegate to employees or hire contractors to take on the more tedious and time consuming tasks on your behalf.
Reflect on the previous year
Business is about more than money. It’s about relationships, marketing, product development and developing a presence in the industry. How well did you do those things this year? Look back through the calendar to chart your progress in all year and reflect on what went well, what you’ve learned from the experiences and what you can do to make 2018 even better.
Eliminate unprofitable areas
You should always be looking to maximize profits, but sometimes it’s hard to make a cut to a program you enjoy but loses you money. The new year is a great time to take a scalpel or maybe a machete to your business plan and to either slice or hack away at areas that take up time and energy but don’t offer you anything in return.
Organize goals and priorities
What are your goals for 2018? Remember that a good goal is specific and measurable, so “doing better” doesn’t count. Take some time and truly think about what you want to achieve this year and then prioritizes the goals and the steps required to make those goals attainable this year. Remember, also, that some goals take years to fully reach, but those long-term goals should include short-term measures for success.
Upgrade technology and hardware
Many companies have been sitting on infrastructure funds waiting for a more favorable environment. That time has arrived. If you’ve been waiting to upgrade computers or invest in new technology, consider the possibilities and speak with your tax advisor about capital investment costs. It certainly doesn’t hurt to look for a good sale during the slower consumer months of the year either.
Revisit your security
Security should be a top priority for every business. Examine your current security plan and see what new options may be available to limit your exposure to risk and ensure that your information and your customer’s financial information is carefully protected. Every year brings new risks, so every year should also bring new safety measures.
Expand your server limits
If you have plans to grow your business, have you also made plans to grow your server? Your server may already be up to the challenge of a growing website and business, or it may wind up limiting what you can do and the directions you can go. Speak with your hosting company to see what options they have available. They may also have new packages that not only expand your server options, but help you streamline or outsource other tasks as well.
Keep an eye on AI
Artificial intelligence, or AI, is increasing and it may have terrific possibilities for your business. It’s not a good fit for everyone, but with new developments, new innovations and new price points, AI may be a something that is on the horizon for your industry this year. Or, it may be something that you might consider well into the future, but you should have industry developments firmly on your radar.
Look at costs and returns in advertising
How have you been advertising this year? Many of the more traditional means of advertising are becoming less profitable as audience preferences are changing. If you haven’t changed your advertising strategies in a few years (or even a few months) check to see what returns you’re actually getting and make some plans about how to try other forms of advertising where appropriate.
Reinvest in yourself
Finally, if you are like most small business owners, you’re close to burning out at any time. You have been working extremely hard to get your business up and running and sometimes it feels like profitability and sustainability are done simply through sheer will power. If you’re running on fumes, take some time this year to invest in yourself. Give yourself permission to outsource some tasks, to take a vacation, to relinquish some duties to employees so that you can grow as a person and avoid working yourself into the ground.
While you may have resolutions in this New Year to eat more vegetables or cut back on coffee consumption, the New Year is a perfect opportunity to improve more than your diet. This is the time to look closely at what has been working in your business and what hasn’t and then develop a plan to make 2018 a year of growth, exploration and additional profitability.