We all want our business to be a success; we wouldn’t be in business otherwise. January is usually the time to make resolutions to improve yourself and it’s also the perfect time to work on your business. Most New Year’s resolutions fail because we are focused on the goal rather than the process. Take the time to reflect on what has worked in the past as well as those strategies that didn’t work so that you can improve your performance.

  1. Plan ahead – now’s the time to update your business plan or put one into place if you don’t have one. Once you have your plan in place, it’s important to stick to it. However, you should also remember that sometimes plans need to be adjusted as circumstances change.
  2. Take advice – you can’t possibly know everything so get advice from people who do. Having the help of a business advisor will keep you on track in terms of tax compliance, cashflow and strategy. While there’s a cost involved, the benefits to your business come from having someone there to monitor your operations and ensure you can sustain your business.
  3. Collect the money you are owed – keep the cash flowing through your business by setting aside time each week to follow up any money that you’re owed. By using cloud based accounting systems, you may be able to automate this process to make it easier to send out follow ups for any outstanding accounts.
  4. Set aside money for the taxman – nobody likes tax but you also don’t want to be in debt to the ATO. The best option is set aside the GST as soon as it hits your books so that when the quarter rolls around, the money is there to pay. While you’re at it, remember money for the business is just that. While it may be tempting to dip into the business account, doing so on a regular basis can have a dramatic effect on cashflow. Instead, treat yourself as an employee and pay yourself a wage.
  5. Test new marketing strategies – there are any number of marketing strategies you can implement to get new customers. As part of your review, think about how you can ramp up your marketing efforts to attract new business. You might decide to host a regular webinar or podcast, or produce some videos testimonials but whatever you do it’s important to track each campaign so you know what’s working and what isn’t. Remember the mantra: test, refine, repeat.
  6. Embrace the web – use social media and a website to promote your business; it’s important to use both for different purposes. Many small business owners make the mistake of using Facebook in lieu of a website as they think it’s ‘free’. While Facebook is easy to use and there’s no cost involved in setting up your own page, you also don’t own any of the data about your followers. Plus, Facebook is making changes to its terms of use constantly and these changes are generally making it harder for businesses to be visible to their customers, unless the business wants to pay for advertising. There are a number of ways to build a website relatively cheaply and without knowing any coding; plus you have the advantage of having control over the content. Also important to remember is that email isn’t dead – sending out regular newsletters to customers is a great way to keep your business front of mind.
  7. Automate what you can – invest in technology to automate as many processes as you can. This could be following up customers for invoice payments, tracking your inventory or automated marketing campaigns. In addition, you should be moving to the cloud so that you can keep on top of what’s happening in your business at any time, even when you’re away from the business premises.
  8. Take some time out – many small business owners don’t take the time to recharge their batteries but it’s important to make time for holidays so that you have both the mental and physical strength to continue operating your business. Make sure you have the right staff in place to look after things while you’re away – having time off doesn’t mean checking your emails every day while you’re away.

Why not take the time now to focus on your goals for the next 12 months and establish strategies to achieve them. By getting your business off to the right start, you are better positioned to have a successful 2016.