Author: Tyler Nolan, freelance writer. Twitter: @t_nol_
During this time of the year people decide to make improvements and resolutions to better themselves personally. This practice should not be limited strictly to personal goals.The beginning of a new year is a great time to sit down and evaluate your small business and form some resolutions to improve it. These resolutions can be over a wide range of areas, everything from managing employees to minding your personal health, and certainly all things having to do with cash flow and growth of your business. Here are some useful tips and ideas to get the New Year started in the right direction.
Your finances are the lifeblood of your business. With no cash flow, there is no business to be had. Understanding the nuances of your finances is critical to success. Taking time once a month to sit down and review income statements, balance sheets and cash flow from the previous month is a good start to understanding exactly what your expenditures are, what your income is, and the shifts in these things on a monthly basis. It could also be beneficial to hire a bookkeeper, a relatively inexpensive option if the financial aspect of your business is not your forte.
Similar to a monthly sit-down with your finances, having a year-long plan for your cash flow that can be adjusted to fit the month’s outcome can be helpful to managing and understanding the financial aspect of your business. This is good for businesses which may struggle with owing more than they can pay at the end of any given month. Newer businesses with loans and large overhead are especially susceptible to these kinds of things, so a firm grasp of your finances can be the difference between being in the red and being in the black. These cash flow projections, once set up and smoothly integrated into your business life as a habitual task, can be one of the best ways to manage your financial future.
Keep up with technology! It is speculated that the millennials will be the generation to usher in the newest form of payment—things like Apple Pay—much like the Baby Boomers with the advent of credit cards. Having these payment options is critical. It may cost more than you’d like to adapt to these new styles of payment if your current machines do not accept these kinds of things yet, but refusal to adapt can result in extinction. This is drastic of course, and some businesses will remain mainly cash businesses for the foreseeable future, but having various payment methods can only help you, and your customers.
Learning to let go of bad employees can be tough, especially if your business is only a handful of tightly-knit people. Bad employees can greatly hinder your business, and if they cannot be trained or convinced to do their job thoroughly or correctly, they need to be relieved. Firing someone can be hard. It can be emotional, but you, as the business owner, cannot let it become emotional. Business decisions are not personal, they are directly tied to your own personal success, and often happiness. A bad employee can ruin your days. If they are scaring away customers with terrible attitudes or rudeness, or mishandling merchandise or whatever task you are giving them, it is best just to cut ties and be done. Accountability is key, and in these small business settings it can become hard to hold these people you work so closely with accountable. Often, a lack of resources is an underlying factor in keeping a bad seed around. Less manpower means more work for everyone involved, which is why it is also crucial to have a plan to quickly, and more important, effectively replace the fired employee with someone who can come in and do the job correctly.
Something that can easily get lost in the chaos of owning a small business is your health. Often, small business owners are putting in more than 50 hours a week. According to a survey done by Bank of America, approximately 55% of small business owners put at least 50 hours a week in, while about 10% put in 70 hours. Some of this is dependent on the type of business, but nonetheless, all of this time spent running your business takes away from everything else in life. Sleep is key, and not getting enough sleep can be extremely detrimental to your personal health and even the health of your business. It can be tough to do, but ensuring enough sleep can go a long way towards having successful and productive days. Caffeine is not always the answer! Everybody love’s their morning cup of coffee, but it isn’t always the best option. Waking up and exercising, even for just 15 minutes can be a great way to wake yourself up and begin your day on a positive note.
Lastly, attend industry events. Most small businesses deal in particular markets and have industry events. Depending on your local and national leadership of your industry, these events could be something that take place annually or more often. These are amazing networking opportunities, and are also great for learning more about how different business owners run and manage their business. For example: The roller skating industry has a strong national body titled the Roller Skating Association (RSA). This is the governing body of roller rinks, and they hold dozens of events a year. At these events, different rink owners hold presentations to display what they do with their rinks. They talk about everything from employee training to food vendors. These meetings are extremely informative and have yielded magnificent results for the owners of the local roller rinks. Many business have these types of organizations and events. Take some time to research your industry and network with others within it.
Making these resolutions is only the start. In order for them to work, and for your business to prosper, you must be willing to put in the work. If you are willing, then these resolutions, among other things, will help propel your business to the next level. Becoming a smarter, more savvy business owner starts within. Making, and truly sticking to any resolutions you make for your small business will help you financially and personally.