Those sleigh bells aren’t just ringing in the holiday season. They’re a wake-up call for you to think in advance to 2018 and set goals for your business. The great thing about planning now is that you’re ahead of the game. You have time to consider ideas, keeping some and discarding others.
As you plan, don’t just set goals for the continued survival of your business. Think bigger than that. Think how you can achieve even more success.
Here are some ideas we recommend:
Review the past year
Evaluate your company’s performance in 2017. Did your company achieve all you wanted it to? If it achieved less, decide what adjustments you could make to ensure it will better meet your goals in 2018. If your company achieved what you wanted, or more, build on the strategies and approaches that got it there.
Set and map out a vision for the coming year
Set a vision for what you want to accomplish next year. Enumerate the goals involved. Then, figure out step by step how to make each goal happen so that the total vision becomes a reality. The steps for each goal will include: planning out the expected time, deadlines to be met, costs, priorities and responsibilities.
Get a head start on your taxes
Okay, as goals go this doesn’t seem very exciting. But getting your tax materials ready now means you’re not in a panic later, in February or March. And when you’re not in a rush, you see things much more clearly. You have the time to weigh options. You can suss out ways to reduce your business and personal tax burden, e.g., claiming depreciation and business expenses, giving to charity, incorporating instead of being in a partnership or sole proprietorship.
Evaluate your company’s position now and going forward
Do a SWOT analysis, that is, figure out your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Here are examples of each:
- Strengths: Are you staffed up in the right places to meet your goals?
- Weaknesses: Is your equipment getting a bit long in the tooth? Might it hold you back?
- Opportunities: Have your salespeople researched your market so that your prospects are up to date?
- Threats: Is a competitor offering more options than you are, e.g., a similar product to yours but with extra bells and whistles that you don’t have?
Be sure you know your current financial position
Take some time to talk to an accountant and make sure you know exactly where your business stands financially. Chances are, you check up on your financial situation regularly. But as part of planning it’s not a bad idea to do an extra check by reading over:
- The balance sheet that tallies your assets, your liabilities and any profit (equity) your company has. The balance sheet shows your business’s net worth monthly, quarterly and yearly.
- The income statement that details your revenues, expenses and profits for a given period.
- Cash-flow statements so you can see exactly where your revenues came from and what you spend money on.
- Cash-flow projections that make it easier for you to manage your cash flow, e.g., to pinpoint low points for revenues and set aside cash to get through those periods.
Again, remember: In terms of time, you’re in the catbird seat. You’re planning early, without daunting deadlines staring you in the face. That means you can plan without stress. You can plan thoughtfully and well.
Here’s some further reading we found useful:
- USA Today article on planning for small-business growth
- An article in The Balance providing a year-end checklist.