As a small business owner, the beginning of a new year is a great time to review your business from the past year. It is a time to reflect on your successes and determine what made you so successful so you can mimic the same actions in the New Year. It is also a time to evaluate your short falls and determine why they didn't work out so you can avoid doing the same thing in the future.
In my experience, there are typically five areas that small businesses can focus on to improve their business in the upcoming year. Many small business owners need to be reminded to re-focus their efforts in these areas to ensure the success of their business. While most know these functions are important to the business, they often get pushed to the back burner with day to day operations taking precedence.
Resolution #1 -- Get Your Internal Systems and Procedures in Place
In a small business it is easy to let systems and procedures slide especially when you only have a handful of employees and everyone knows what they need to do. The problem with doing this is that it leaves room for error. It also leaves you, the business owner, at risk for employee theft and mismanagement of your business.
If you do not already, create a clear plan for internal systems and procedures. Document these plans in a manual of some kind and be sure to include the consequences of what will happen if the proper procedures are not followed. Have your employees read and sign off that they have read and understand what is expected. While this may seem a bit harsh or unnecessary, it will be helpful in the long term if anything should ever go wrong and it will also be extremely beneficial when the time comes to sell your business. Investors want to know there is a plan in place that will allow the business to run once you are no longer working in it.
Resolution #2 -- Make Sure Your Finances Are in Order
Tax time will be rolling around before you know it. If you haven't been keeping the best track of your financial situation, this will be the point where you'll be able to see in black and white how your business has performed over the past year. Even if you are happy with your bottom line, I encourage you to take a good luck at your finances and see if there are ways you can improve. I recommend talking with your Account and determining if there are ways you can cut expenses or minimize the amount of taxes you are paying. These are two things right off the top that can help improve your bottom line next year at this time.
Resolution #3 -- Re-focus on Customer Service
Most small business owners are great at customer service. They are vested in their business and understand how important loyal customers are. But, just because you deliver good customer service, it does not mean your staff always does! While leading by example is a good start, with the New Year, take a step back and evaluate how your employees are doing. Ask some of your loyal customers or do an anonymous survey. Take what you get from that feedback, good or bad, and turn it into a positive for your company. Reward good customer service and work to improve those who are lacking.
Resolution #4 -- Re-focus on Your Marketing
Marketing is one of the biggest functions to get pushed to the side in a small business. The owner often tries to take care of it themselves and when the demands of the business compete for the owner's time, the day to day business operation always wins. With that said, in the New Year, resolve to re-focus on your marketing. Make sure you are doing what you can within your budget to stay in front of your target customers. If you cannot devote the time to doing this, hire someone who can. Even if your business is doing well, you should never stop marketing and advertising as there will likely come a time when things slow down and having laid the ground work with strong marketing efforts will help you pick back up.
Resolution #5 -- Think About Your Exit Strategy
While you may not be thinking about selling your business, it is always important to think about your exit strategy for when the time comes. Thinking about it now can help you lay the foundation for what needs to be done later. The New Year is the perfect time to strategize about what your exit strategy may look like and get to work on creating a business that can sustain itself without you so it is attractive to potential investors when the time comes for you to move on.
About: Peter Siegel, MBA is the Founder & Advisor (ProBuy & ProSell Programs) at BizBen.com (established 1994, 8000+ California businesses for sale, 500 new & refreshed postings/posts daily) and the BizBenNetwork - working with potential business buyers, business sellers, brokers, agents, investors, & advisors). Reach him direct at 866-270-6278 to discuss strategies regarding buying, selling, (or financing a puchase of) small to mid-sized businesses.
|Helpful Resources To Assist In Selling And Buying California Businesses|
|Willard Michlin, CPA, Certified Fraud Examiner, Due Diligence Services
Willard Michlin, CPA #106752, offers buyers step by step training & assistance in doing Due Diligence Services when they are thinking of making an offer, or are in process of investigating a business purchase. He helps to determine the actual net profit even when there is cash. Call 805-428-2063.
|Elizabeth McGovern: Escrow Services - SF Bay Area
McGovern Escrow Services, Inc., is a leading independent escrow company. We are a trusted partner with our clients, assisting them through the tangled bulk sale & liquor license transfer process. We provide attentive, quality & innovative customer service. Phone Elizabeth McGovern at 415-735-3645.
|Diane Boudreau-Tschetter: Escrow And Bulk Sale Services
California Business Escrow, Inc. is a full service independent escrow company serving all of California and has expertise in a wide range of escrows. Our team prides itself on providing an exceptional escrow experience. For more info phone Diane Boudreau-Tschetter at 888-383-3331 or 209-838-1100.
|Mark Chatow, Esq.: Legal Services For Buying, Selling Businesses
Mark has a broad range of small business purchase & sale experience from analyzing potential acquisition targets to successfully guiding buyers and sellers through the purchase & sale of small businesses. Mark can assist with contracts, negotiations, legal matters, etc. Reach Mark at 949-478-8393.
|Joe Sandbank, Esq. - Legal Services
I have provided legal counsel to business buyers, sellers and brokers for over 17 years. With prior experience as a business broker and SBA loan officer, Joe brings both a practical and legal approach to all aspects of the business acquisition process.
|Ranvir S. Sandhu, Esq. - Legal Services For Buyers And Sellers
I've worked at top Bay Area law firms and have extensive experience with business entity formation, mergers, dissolutions, conversions, employment matters, including experience in reviewing and negotiating transactional documents such as leases and purchase agreements.
|Janet Carrera - Escrow & Bulk Sale Services - SF Bay Area
Redwood Escrow Services, Inc. is a full service, licensed independent escrow company. We are EAFC Fidelity bonded, fully insured & licensed with the Department of Corporations. Committed to offering our clients the most comprehensive variety of escrow services available. Phone Janet at 510-247-0741.
|Helen Yoo: Escrow & Bulk Sale Services - Southern California
New Century Escrow, Inc. is a fully licensed & bonded independent escrow company. Over 20 years combined experience in handling bulk escrow transactions. Multi-lingual staff that speaks your language, including Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese. Call Helen Yoo direct at 626-890-1151.
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