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New year planning: How to give your business a great start in 2019

For your small business, ending the year the right way can set you up for success come the new year. Use this guide to clean the slate and give your business a successful start.

We’re just a week away from Christmas! And that means that we’re just two weeks away from the beginning of a new year. As we inch closer to the mark of this year’s end, I would like to ask you a few questions:

Did your business plans fall short in 2018?

Did you have trouble attracting and retaining customers?

Have former clients and vendors found new places to do business?

If you are nodding your head in a sad agreement, it’s still not too late. Here is a list of the 4 most important things you need to do in order to end this year right give your firm a fresh start in 2019:

1) Set your SMART goals for 2019

Make sure your goals for 2019 are SMART, which is, Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Based.

During the first few days of the New Year, take a bit of time to think about your goals for the calendar year ahead.

Focus especially on the aspects of your business that you neglect in the busyness of day-to-day survival.

  • Do you want to target new customer segments?
  • Revamp up your old IT setup?
  • Introduce a new service or product?
  • Hire new staff members?
  • Write down each goal, along with a deadline and its metric for success.

    One of the key thing that you have to remember before setting your goals is to make them SMART.

    But, what do we mean by smart here?

    SMART goals work on the 5 following parameters: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-limited.

    Let’s take a moment to understand SMART goals even better.

    Say, for example, your goal is to grow your business. In that case, a SMART goal for you could be-

    *Specific: You will acquire 3 new clients for your business.

    *Measurable: You will measure the progress by analyzing the change in revenue and net worth after acquiring the clients.

    *Attainable: Your goal should practical and achievable. Adding 3 new clients is attainable while making a plan of acquiring more than 15 clients in a short amount of time is almost impossible and impractical.

    *Relevant: Make sure your goal aligns with who you are and what your vision for your business is. In this case, adding additional clients to your business allows you to grow your business and increase its revenue.

    *Time-limited: You will give yourself two new clients within the first three months of the year. Bounding yourself with a deadline will push you to work more efficiently.

    2) Go all-in on the cloud

    Jumping head first to cloud accounting to manage finance will help you save resources and streamline your accounting.

    For every business that wants to stay competitive, cloud-adoption is no longer a luxury — but a necessity.

    According to a study by RightScale, 93% of organizations have already started using cloud technologies in some form or fashion.

    So, if you are still reluctant in transiting to the cloud yet, here are the 4 crucial aspects of your business you can take to cloud which will eventually help it grow multiple folds:

    A. Storage

    Do you still store your operational and financial data locally on your desktops? Have you been wasting your time in searching for that one crucial file in a heap of folders?

    Just jump on board on a cloud storage alternative like Dropbox or Google drive and your record adding and retrieval process will be reduced to a few mouse clicks and keyboard strokes.

    Not to mention, since it’s all on the cloud, even if your system crashes, you can pick up from where you left off from a different computer with just an active internet connection.

    B. Accounting

    The problem with traditional accounting whether managed offline or on Excel is that the financial data stays unorganized to a greater extent.

    Cloud accounting software solves this issue by offering a centralized space where all your financial data — from your reports to your invoices to your bank transactions — is updated in real time and stored in an organized fashion.

    Cloud accounting works on 3 crucial parameters, which can be also referred to as the 3 C’s:

    Collaborative: Cloud accounting enables multiple users to come on board without the need of them being at the same place.

    Compliance friendly: Most online accounting platforms today are tax compliance friendly. A business owner doesn’t need to rely on their accountant for the simple act of tax filing.

    Cost-effective: With its pay-as-you-go model, you only need to spend money on the accounting features you need. Cloud accounting eliminates the need of maintaining the combination of hardware and software required for your financial management.

    C. CRM

    Cloud-based CRM(Customer Relationship Management) systems like Leadsquared and Salesforce can automate customer-centric business processes.

    These cloud-based CRM’s are helpful in managing the customer journey — from lead acquisition to opportunity management, and continued account maintenance.

    D. Productivity

    Productivity tools like Microsoft Office 365 and Google Docs work on cloud technology, allowing you to use your most-productive tools over the internet. You can work on your documents, presentations, and spreadsheets — from anywhere, at any time.

    Additionally, if you have multiple departments with members who want to collaborate more efficiently, cloud-based task management tools like Trello and Asana come to rescue.

    They can help you in creating your entire workflow, assigning particular team-members to particular tasks, stay constantly updated with the status of those tasks, and get rid of the bottlenecks.

    Ontop of that, the environmental benefits of taking to the cloud are certainly equally important for every business person who wants to leave a better world for future generations.

    An average company uses over thousands of sheets of paper every year which can be equated to a small tree. This means that if all businesses were paperless, the world could be greener than ever before.

    With the end of the year approaching, now is a better time than any to make the switch.

    3) Freshen up your brand’s marketing

    Content is truly the king when it comes to marketing in the 21st century.

    Entrepreneurship has evolved with time.

    There used to be a time where you could manage your business and turn a hefty profit with hard work and financial management skills.

    Today, you need to get familiar with the concepts of digital marketing if you want to survive.

    Think about it this way, if your customers can’t find you, your products, or your services online while they are conducting research, they will find someone else.

    It’s that simple.

    So why not take a step back and revisit your website, blog account, social media handles and other digital marketing avenues to ensure that they’re up-to-date with the current internet standards.

    As this year ends, set up a course of action that involves applying a fresh coat of paint to your marketing plans. A relevant digital presence will surely allow you to expose your business and outdo your competition in 2019.

    4) Learn From Your Mistakes

    “You cannot connect the dots by only looking forward.”- Steve Jobs

    “You cannot connect the dots by only looking forward.”- Steve Jobs

    Mistakes are inevitable.

    As a business owner, you need to make friends with failure fast.

    According to a haunting statistic, over 50% of small businesses fail within the first four years.

    I don’t say this to scare you. I say this to motivate you.

    There is no time like the present to look back over the previous year and assess what went well for your business and what did not.

    If you survived and thrived this entire year, it means you clearly did something right. It is time for you to evaluate and separate the rights from the wrongs.

    Take a moment to go over the achievements and setbacks you faced in 2018 by jotting down the answers to the questions below:

    • What did I want to achieve?
    • What was the actual result?
    • What were some of the mistakes that I made?
    • How could those mistakes have been avoided?

    Use the answers to these questions as an insight into your business. Accordingly, review your business plan and make any necessary updates and adjustments.

    When you systematically examine what went right and what went wrong in various business situations, you’ll be able to come up with transformative solutions.

    Conclusion

    Sothere we have it, folks! These are just a some of the things you can do to start out fresh in the New Year.

    A lot of it starts with you looking back the year that is going by and plan for the year that’s about to come.

    Setting SMART goals for the year that is to come will help you in creating a business plan that is Specific, Measurable, Relevant and Time-based.

    You should also go on and start leveraging on cloud technology to manage the storage, productivity, and accounting of your business. Not only will adapting cloud help you streamline your processes, but it can help you save resources, both financial and non-financial in nature.

    Adding a fresh coat of paint to your marketing plans can help your business be more visible to a newer customer base as you think about expanding the new year.

    But, these can’t be all, right? What other ways do you think you can give your business a fresh start? Let us know in the comments below!

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