5 tips to get your business ready for the year ahead

The start of the year is a time of new resolutions. While the first few months are a good time to reflect on successes and learnings of the past year, it’s also the perfect time to plan and set goals for your business for the year ahead. Here are five tips to help you make your goals come to fruition.

1. Write a business plan

Planning is key to a successful business but it’s an ongoing and evolving process. If you don’t have a documented and detailed strategy or plan for your business, now’s the time to create one.

If you do have a business plan, the start of the year when things are a little quieter in the office is an ideal time to get your thoughts together and make updates to your current plan to reflect new goals and ideas.

2. Make time for a business health check

Take a look at your performance data for the past year – both quantitative and qualitative. Did you meet targets for revenue, profits, sales conversions and efficiency measures? Have you considered staff and client satisfaction? A review of these areas could highlight potential opportunities or threats to your business.

3. Understand where you are and what you need to do next

What should you focus on first? It depends on your business life cycle stage.

If you’ve made acquisitions, it’s important to consider how the integration into the business has gone and identify areas that went smoothly and those that may not have gone according to plan. If you’ve had a successful year, review your forecasts for the next few months and look at ways you could set your sights higher.

If you've been finding it hard to grow fees or revenue, you may want to look at your cost structure. Can you make processes more efficient or find new ways to grow revenue through more profitable or diverse products or services?

4. Talk through your ideas

Seeking professional external advice is a critical stage in developing or revising any business strategy. It's hard to plan on your own – speaking with your accountant, financial adviser or business manager may reveal new options or better ways of making something happen. It’s important to have focus and direction – too many options or strategies can leave you unsure where to start.

5. Be prepared for new market conditions

With subdued business and consumer confidence, small business owners may be feeling cautious about current projections or investing in growth. However, the outlook often varies by sector, so take the time to read some of the latest forecasts and analyses relevant to your industry, check how you're tracking against the rest of the market and look at what your competitors are doing. You'll be in a better position to make smart decisions.

Your new year strategy checklist

  • Get advice from your accountant or legal adviser before making any major decisions.
  • Consider asking someone to be your mentor – use your business network. It can be an informal arrangement such as a coffee catch up or a monthly phone call.
  • Take the opportunity to read something different – subscribe to an international magazine or newspaper to stay informed on overseas trends and understand the macro factors affecting your industry.
  • Set measurable goals and assign responsibility and deadlines for new projects.
  • Don’t forget to spend time on your health, relationships and family!

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