BUSINESS STRATEGY & GROWTH • December 13, 2017
2 minutes Read
What’s the single most important action you can take in 2017 to rev up your business in 2018? The answer is to plan now for the future. Whether you think of it as making New Year’s resolutions or setting goals, having a plan will help you stay focused throughout the year. Consider these four resolutions for 2018.
We’ve all heard the advice – do what you love and the money will follow. Many small business owners love taking care of animals, baking, designing websites, fixing cars or styling hair. Far fewer are passionate about math or spreadsheets. The reality is that your financials will make or break your business and you need to understand them thoroughly.
By knowing what’s coming in and what’s going out, you can make better decisions about hiring, inventory, expansion, taxes and how much you can afford to pay yourself. Sit down with your accountant before the new year rolls around and make a plan for how you’re going to spend, save, borrow and invest your business’s income in 2018.
You may have a storefront on Main Street, an online-only business or a combination of the two. Either way, you need a refined digital strategy to connect with customers. Your website is your public face and e-commerce engine. That upgrade that’s been on the back burner for two years? It’s time. Update the content, design and functionality, and add user-friendly features like the ability to book appointments online. Test the site to make sure it works seamlessly on mobile phones and across different browsers
Your website is just one way to attract and retain customers. Social media channels, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, are equally important.
Take advantage of targeted advertising as well, from keyword searches to geo-targeting to sponsored content. Make it easy for prospective and current customers to find you. Take the time now to get all your digital assets up to speed and set up a schedule to keep them current for the next 12 months. The idea is to stay top of mind (without being over the top).
Hurricanes, wildfires, floods and other disasters can destroy property and knock out electricity, telecommunications, transportation and water for days, weeks or months. Unless you’ve been directly affected, you may think you don’t need to prepare. Think again. About 40 percent of small businesses don’t reopen after a natural disaster, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Before 2018 begins, prepare a disaster plan that includes protocols for technology, communications and operations. If you haven’t already, document your technology infrastructure and establish a schedule to back up data. This will help to speed up recovery.
Develop a communications plan that allows key employees to get in touch with one another, as well as communicate with customers, vendors and your insurance agent. Specify who will control your website and social media.
Put together (and practice) a business continuity plan that includes different scenarios. Use your 2018 planning to get ahead of unforeseen disasters and protect your business.
If expansion is part of your plan for 2018 and you don’t have a lot of cash on hand (like most small businesses), start thinking about how you might access working capital. The good news is that small businesses have many more options than before. Consider them all, from family and friends to SBA loans. Another option is the new generation of online small business capital providers. These businesses can help you get the funding you need, often in just a day or two, and may have more flexible terms. Look for a lending partner with an established track record, expertise in your industry and a willingness to work closely with you. As a leading provider of access to small business loans, CAN Capital offers transparent pricing and fast, friendly service.
Whether you’re a new or established business owner, the daily crush of deadlines and responsibilities can make it hard to plan. As you look ahead to 2018, find time to make resolutions that are both pragmatic and aspirational (you deserve to dream a little bit). Planning ahead is a smart investment for the future success of the business you’ve worked so hard to build.