4 New Year’s Resolutions for SMB Owners

Instead of rejoicing and relishing at all the opportunities that await after the celebrations end January 1st, many SMBs find themselves running around like chickens with their heads cut off. Then spend the rest of the year in reaction mode because of their lack of planning.

Business doesn’t have to be so difficult folks.

The resolution - funny cartoon

Here are 4 relatively simple resolutions that any business owner can implement for a less stressful and more profitable 2016:

1. Resolve to look back and plan ahead

Research has shown that there’s indeed a correlation between businesses who plan ahead and the level of success they enjoy over their more impulsive, counterparts who fail to strategize when it matters most.

As 2016 looms large in most of our minds at this point, the time to start planning was months ago. However, don’t worry if you’re one of the tardy folks who like to put things off; there’s still hope for you in the coming year if you get on top of your New Year’s plan right now.

It’s time to do a quick once-over of all your business practices including inventory management, payables, receivables, employee performance, marketing initiatives, unexplored territories you’re not capitalizing on. And most important, take a close look at your customer service over the last year and figure out how you can refine it in the New Year. Customer service is everything (read #4 for a great customer service improvement tip).

Treat the whole process as if you’re putting together a business plan to get a financing loan.

2. Resolve to understand your competition better

Everyone in business wants to be better than the competition. If you don’t fall into this category, how are you still in business? How else can you possibly hope to hone in on, and take over their loyal customer base?

The only way to get better and surpass those who seek to leave you batting around in the minor leagues of business is to examine what they’re doing, figure out how you can do it better/cheaper, and look for other areas where you can get a competitive advantage such as forming partnerships with other businesses that can directly compliment yours – and you theirs. Examples include: pizza shops partnering with sport’s stadiums; doctors partnering with other doctors (and injury attorneys!); car washes and mechanics, etc.

Better financial management

3. Resolve to manage your finances better than you did in 2015

I’ve met very few business owners over the years that can truly claim they have complete and perfect control over their finances. This goes triple for SMBs. Even when growth is steady and the sales are so strong they risk busting the company “cash register”, there’s always room for improvement.

The unexpected will crop up; that’s always a reality. What hits a lot of small business owners square in the face quite often are the things that they could have easily seen coming, had they had only resolved to take a good look at their financial needs and obligations before the year started. Create a rolling financial plan to be reviewed and adjusted as needed throughout the year.

Also, look for ways to boost revenue and cut cost using that same financial plan:

  • Have your suppliers been hammering you with higher prices every year? Maybe it’s time to look for new ones – or perhaps raise your own prices this year to accommodate for inflation?
  • Are you paying out the nose to creditors every month because they’re charging you ridiculous interest rates? Consider a lower interest consolidation loan from that bank down the street that rejected your initial startup loan a few years back – you never know til you ask.

4. Resolve to improve payment options offered to customers

There’s absolutely no reason to hold onto any business traditions in this day and age, including the traditional “cash, debit or credit only” mentality. The more options you can offer, the better your chances of not losing a sale because a customer prefers to use an online-based payment option like PayPal, or prefers to use their Square dongle and smartphone to make all their purchases.

Even older payments like debit and credit cards are now allowing customers to “tap” away to their heart’s content using EMV embedded chips in their cards of choice. If you’re cheaping out on buying a new terminal because your old one works just fine, you better be the only place for miles around living and doing business in the town of Lost Springs, WY!

Otherwise, the more options the better. And don’t be deterred by costs without looking into the upside either. Square, for instance, gives you the swipe terminal for free and charges less per transaction than many credit card companies do.

Happy planning and happy New Years to all. Here’s wishing you the best year yet!