The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to step back and plan activities that will build your leadership skill and lead to a more resilient, profitable and growth-oriented business.
You don’t have to do it all right away. How about introducing one new activity each month? Just make sure your action plan includes regular, scheduled follow-ups so you can assess your progress and get back on track when necessary.
1. Make financial projections for the coming year
Projections are the cornerstone of good financial management. Cash flow projections will help make sure you have the money you need to meet your expenses and achieve your goals. Using a spreadsheet, or other planning tool, estimate your cash inflows and outflows each month, including any planned investments and financings. Now, track your cash flow as the year unfolds and make adjustments to keep your business on track.
Learn more: Master your cash flow eBook
2. Tune up your strategic plan
If you don’t have a strategic plan, it’s time to develop one. A recent BDC survey found that over 70% of the most successful companies had a medium-term business plan compared to just 46% of their less successful counterparts. If you already have a plan, you should update it to take into account changes in your financial situation, important developments in your business or changes in your market.
3. Set up an advisory board
An advisory board is a group of trusted advisers that meets regularly to help you make better business decisions and develop a long-term vision for your business. It’s a proven way to get valuable outside advice on running your business at a very reasonable cost. Yet, just 6% of entrepreneurs have one, according to a BDC survey.
4. Get up to speed on online marketing
By now, you’re no doubt aware that your online presence has become your most important marketing tool whether you’re selling to consumers or to other businesses. So it’s time to make a plan and get going on upping your game. You should consider getting some outside help because many of the tasks—website design, content generation, social media, e‑commerce, search engine optimization, online ads, mobile compatibility—can be challenging.
Learn more: Online Marketing eBook
5. Use more technology in your business
Taking advantage of business software can help boost your company’s productivity, capacity to innovate and profits. You can use it to automate your key activities including finances, customer relations, production planning, inventory and human resources. Yet, here again, too few entrepreneurs are benefitting from the technology that’s available to them.
6. Review your sales targets
A sales plan is an essential document for driving your business towards your goals. Within the plan, you need stretch targets that challenge your sales team and keep your business growing.
7. Get your business processes down on paper
If you’re like many entrepreneurs you hold a lot of knowledge about running your business in your head. But as your company grows you risk becoming a bottleneck and the largest impediment to your own success. One way to avoid that is by getting all that knowledge out of your head and down on paper in the form of standardized, repeatable procedures.
Learn more: 9 strategies for effective delegating
8. Clean up your place of business
All too often a grimy factory or messy office is a tell-tale sign of much deeper problems at companies. Conversely, a clean workplace can get your company running more efficiently and set your team up to tackle other improvements.
9. Learn to take your time when hiring
All too often, entrepreneurs rush to hire employees because their anxious to get someone into a position. But haste, can lead to far more serious headaches if you’re saddled with a weak performer, or worse, a problem case who disrupts your workplace and drags down performance.
Learn more: Hiring: 7 steps to ensure you recruit the right people for your business
10. Introduce a performance management system
A sound performance management system is a powerful tool for encouraging employee engagement by linking performance to company goals. It can also help you to identify up-and-coming talent, clarify training needs, shape succession plans and help make more objective compensation and staffing decisions.
Learn more: Employee performance management
11. Schedule regular meetings with your key suppliers
Your suppliers can be crucial allies for your business by going the extra mile on important orders, helping develop new products and managing your cash flow. It’s important that you view them as partners in your business and nurture your relationships with them.
12. Plan you days ahead
It’s critical for entrepreneurs to organize their days to make sure they’re doing the right things at the right time. A good place to start is to plan your day ahead of time. Before leaving the office, create a to-do list for the next day. When you get in the next morning, you’ll be ready to hit the ground running.
Learn more: 5 time management secrets
For more tips, check out our report Five Do’s and Five Don’ts of Successful Businesses.