How to Prepare your Small Business for the New Year

At the start of every year, it is important to have a solid plan for not only growing the business but also properly managing that growth so you do not end up losing your new clients/customers later on.

Here are four essentials that should be included in your preparation:

Take Stock of the Prior Year: Before developing your plan for a new year, it is important to review the prior year. What goals did you accomplish? How many new customers/clients did you add? What went right? What areas are in need of improvement? Overall, is your business where you wanted it to be at the end of this year? Why or why not?

These are just some of the questions you should be asking about your progress during the prior year. Remember, until we have examined closely our strengths and weaknesses, we will not be in a position to make significant improvements going forward.

Learn What Your Clients Need: One of the areas we want to closely examine is how well we are serving our customers and clients. The best way to find out is to ask them. You do not need to do anything elaborate; just a simple letter or email asking them to complete a short survey will do. Not everyone will return the survey, but you should get enough responses to have a good idea about your clients’ needs and what you can do to better serve them in the following year.

Determine your Area(s) of Focus for Next Year: Now that you have thoroughly reviewed the past year and have a better understanding of what your clients want, it is time to look at what your areas of focus should be in the coming year. For example, is there a complimentary product or service that you do not currently offer that your clients are asking for? Or are there some offerings your clients really don’t need that you could eliminate to make your business more efficient? Bring your entire staff together for a meeting to discuss this and leave the floor open to ideas. Your employees likely have the most direct contact with your clients, so they may have a better read on what needs to happen to improve your product or service offerings.

Develop an Effective Marketing Plan: After deciding what your business should focus on in the coming year, it is time to set out some goals and develop a plan for accomplishing them. Your plan should include effective ways to market your products/services to your target audience (both online and offline). If you are too small to have a marketing department, it may be wise to bring in an outside consultant for help. And if one of your goals is to exit your business in the near future, you may also want to speak with a local business broker who can offer some ideas about raising the value of your company for prospective buyers.

Speak to a professional business intermediary to help you develop a plan and strategy to sell your business in the New Year.

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