As the year nears completion, it is important to take some time to reflect on the prior twelve months and make some resolutions for 2017. Start using that gym membership or feed that piggy bank a bit more are sure to be popular, but business owners shouldn’t forget to consider their business when setting resolutions. However, for most entrepreneurs and business owners, the end of the year is crunch time. We are busy compiling end of the year financial statements, tax documents, and making one last push to hit our annual goals.
In an effort to streamline the process, we have compiled a list of 4 resolutions that every entrepreneur and business owner can get behind.
1. SMART Business Goals
No better time than now to start setting goals for 2017 – But this year, let’s make an effort to improve our goal setting. I am sure most of you reading this have heard of SMART goals; however, how many of you actually create goals with this acronym in mind? So here is your refresher so you can implement SMART goal setting in your business practices for 2017:
S: Specific – The more specific a goal is, the more likely you are to hit it. “Make more money” is a no longer going to cut it. Review prior years, discuss with your management team and accountant, and set a specific goal.
M: Measurable – Make sure your goals are measurable so you can review monthly. Find out if you are on target or not, and adjust accordingly. If you aren’t reviewing your goals with your accountant on a regular basis, why even set them?
A: Attainable – Sure, we would all like to make a billion dollars next year, but that goal only makes sense for a very tiny percentage of organizations. We need to be realistic with our goal setting or it defeats the entire purpose.
R: Realistic – Goals can be attainable but not realistic. Let me explain using an example.. It may be 100% attainable to sign 40 new clients next year given your organization’s reputation and pricing. However, you must have the resources available to hit that goal or it is not realistic. It might be far-fetched to set that as a goal if you only have a one-person sales team. Either increase the resources available, or lower your goal to make it more realistic.
T: Time-Based – Make sure you keep yourself accountable by setting deadlines for your goals. This time of the year sees a lot of goals with a 1 year deadline. However, try to give yourself milestones to track your progress. Where should you be quarterly? Monthly?
2. Automate, Automate, Automate!
Let 2017 be the year of automation. There are countless tools and cloud based software programs out there that allow you to automate many business-related tasks. Your focus needs to be on revenue producing activities, not menial tasks. Is social media important for your business? Yes. Does it make sense to spend hours every day making sure you are constantly updating your profiles? Absolutely not. With programs like Buffer and HubSpot, you can manage and plan all of your social media profiles from one convenient location. Not only that, but you can schedule your posts well ahead of time to ensure you are free to work on more pressing matters.
So, in 2017, anytime you are spending a significant amount of time on a task that doesn’t increase the bottom line, ask yourself one question. Can I automate or outsource this task? I think you will find the answer is yes more often than not.
3. Revisit Your Business Plan
A business plan is a great tool when you are just starting out, and most successful entrepreneurs create one because they know the importance of this step. However, most entrepreneurs and business owners never edit this document after launching their business. For whatever reason, most people think this process is done once before launch and then you never have to worry about it again. Well, I hate to be the one to tell you this… but things change. It is so rare to have a business plan hold 100% true 5 years, 3 years, or even 1 year after launch. If you are exactly where you envisioned you would be, while offering the exact product or service you intended to pre-launch, congratulations. You are either extremely talented at fortune telling or extremely lucky. For most organizations, we must adapt. It may be a tweak to a product or service, or a different market entirely, but normally the organizations that survive are the ones who can adapt the best. Therefore, it only makes sense to revisit your business plan when these changes occur to consider how they will affect your direction. So, take some time this year, and work with your management team to revisit your business plan. These conversations are almost always eye opening and useful.
4. Work/Life Balance
I fully understand that we are passionate about our organizations. I am guilty of talking about my firm every opportunity I get, and sometimes when I don’t even get that. That passion is a good thing, and will be a huge factor in your success. I am not suggesting that you try to tamper your passion. I am, however, suggesting that you reflect on the time spent working on your startup. If you can swing it, bring in some help to free you up to spend time with friends and family. Getting burnt out is a real risk when investing so much of your time and effort into something. So, do yourself a favor, and find some time for your personal life in 2017.
Regardless of the resolutions set for 2017, streamlining processes and creating efficiencies should be at the root. Let 2017 be the year you take your business to the next level.
Happy New Year from GMAC Accounting!
This article is brought to you by GMAC Accounting, LLC, a full service cloud accounting and bookkeeping firm. With over 30 years of experience in the business of banking, accounting and project management, GMAC assists small and mid-sized businesses with all their financial needs. For more information on GMAC Accounting, please visit: www.GMACAccounting.com