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 month away from Christmas! Which 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 2019?
- 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. With only one month to go, 2019 is almost over; this means that 2020 can provide you with new opportunities and ideas that will set the tone for the entire year. Here is a list of the 4 most important things you need to do in order to end this year right to give your firm a fresh start in 2020:
1) Set your SMART goals for 2020
Make sure your goals for 2020 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.
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 headfirst 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:
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.
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.
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.
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) Effective promotion of the business
Many companies tend to put promotion and marketing on the back burner and eventually forget about it until it’s too late. So, once the New Year starts, it will provide you with the perfect chance to make promotion and marketing a priority. So, you have to create a practical and efficient marketing plan and follow it through.
4) Choose the right billing software
Billing and accounting software programs cater to variable market demands. While some companies bill on an hourly basis, others may bill only after a project has been completed. Billing and invoicing tools come in a variety of forms. They are available in free and basic suites as well as in pricey and accurate programs. They also offer several features such as creating online customer records, setting up currencies, and even help in some custom branding. The key features that some of the top accounting software offer are listed as follows:
- Creating a new invoice: Billing and invoicing software allow you to create clean and professional invoices and add a personalised touch to go with your brand. It can also collect relevant data from projects, customer records and timesheets and prevent the duplication of invoice.
- Summarizing customer records: With this feature, you can enable record keeping of personal and purchase information of your clients and save them in a single and centralized database.
- Accept PayPal or credit card: This facilitates a secure billing process and allows auto-billing as well so that your clients don’t miss a due payment.
- Currency setting: With currency setting, you can integrate the billing and invoicing system to the rest of the software architecture. It is also useful for accepting payment, managing taxes, issuing receipts, etc.
- Predefined communication templates: Having predefined communication templates along with accurate billing and invoicing will save time and personalize the accounting process. This feature is offered by all the best accounting software for small businesses.
- Import and export customers: This feature lets you send quotes to your customers in just a few seconds.
- Invoice, payment, and tax report: When you are using a good e-invoicing system, the need to use external systems for tax reporting is eliminated. It can be carried out within the same system without investing too much time to summarize the information.
- Once you decide to go with a software model, you also need to research well about the provider’s background and the features they are actually offering. As the SaaS software is a competitive market, you can negotiate smartly and get the best features for the deal.
5) Enhance your digital presence
In today’s digital era, it’s quite vital that your company has its own website. This is important because customers tend to look up anything and everything online, and if your business doesn’t have its own website, then you’re depriving yourself of a huge pool of new customers. If your organization doesn’t have a website, then it’s time that you create one; this point also applies to a website that hasn’t been updated in a long time. It’s essential that you create an online presence that is constantly updated and visible. This new year, ensure that you bring in modern ideas that are fresh and adapted to mobile devices as well. Ensure that your company has a good social media presence because it’s a cost-effective way of enhancing your company’s online presence.
6) Invest in the latest technology
If you have been putting up with ineffective and inefficient software for the past few years, then this New Year, it’s time for you to invest in upgrading your software and hardware choices. This includes a new PC, peripherals, printers, phone systems, online applications, or switching to an accounting software in lieu of good old Excel. When you invest in the latest technology, you save yourself from any hurdles that may hinder day-to-day productivity.
7) Declutter your workspace, including the computer
Your workspace should be clutter-free, and it should motivate you to be productive. This means that it should not be a dumping zone for anything else. In order to have a clear mind and productive outputs, you will need to remove all the physical clutter from your desk. This process will provide you with mental peace, and help you get started with work as well. When it comes to your computer, ensure that you’re organized, and all your important documents are sorted into folders, preferably on the cloud. Avoid saving all your stuff on the desktop, and embrace the folder system because it will save you a lot of time and effort. Decluttering needn’t just stop with your space – taking your software to the cloud is a great way to ensure you are on top of things even when your system conks. If you’re into accounting, the recent surge in cloud accounting software can really help you get sorted as you get started in 2020.
8) Set up a project management system
It’s important that before you step into the New Year, you need to have a project management system. This will allow you to plan, organize, manage, and keep track of all your projects. It also helps you monitor employee performance, and ensure utmost efficiency. It’s also important that you set and plan your goals for the long term.
9) 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 2020.
10) Learn From Your Mistakes
“You cannot connect the dots by only looking forward.”- Steve Jobs
The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.” — Winston Churchill
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.
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!