Six Savvy New Years Resolutions for Women Owned Small Businesses You Don’t Want to Put Off Until January!
There are many sure fire ways to avoid being a success in business. One of the easiest is adopting the attitude — “I’ll look into that after the 1st of the year… ” As early as November 1st there are a cornucopia of distractions to keep us otherwise occupied until January 2nd or 3rd. After emerging from this long, unyielding marathon of pushing for December sales quotas, entertaining, school programs, and gift returns, we spend another 2 or 3 weeks struggling to get up to speed when suddenly, February is staring us in the face! Those 3 months, November through January, are what I call the critical, ‘final/first’ quarter of the business year. They are critical because these are the months that set the pace of productivity for the following year.
About 30% of small businesses are owned by women. Many are head of their household or, at the very least, juggling business, children, home, and personal life. Planning for next year is often done in January or February, while on the run. By this time, it is much too late to fully and efficiently capitalize on the year ahead. Planning needs to begin in November and December. It is important that women who are the sole proprietors or owners of small businesses continually evaluate what they are doing and make adjustments accordingly. For a more sane and productive 2013, I challenge you follow this guide and make your business resolutions for 2013 NOW.
Make 2013 ROCK! Here are 6 savvy resolutions for small business to put into practice NOW!
RESOLUTION #1 – I will be more efficient.
What products and/or services have you added, deleted or modified this past year? Does your distribution, warehouse, shelving, mailroom, or filing system support these changes? Is there a more efficient way to organize your office space? Are you behind on your filling? If you are a mom and pop shop or a sole proprietor, it will be well worth the investment to hire a part time administrative assistant, even just for a few days, to help get you organized before you jump into 2013. This will also make ‘finding’ your taxes so much easier.
What products and/or services are you planning to add, delete or modify in 2013? Do you need to make changes in your distribution, warehouse, shelving, mailing or filling to support these changes? Now is the time to plan the timeline for purchases. Do you need a greater tax break for 2012 or 2013?
Is your office space organized for efficiency? Could moving an office or desk, putting in a shelf, or installing another electrical or internet connection improve traffic patterns and eliminate wasted time?
Does your business have the equipment necessary to succeed and profit next year? December is a good time to evaluate a company’s equipment needs and to determine whether any capital investments need to be made. That’s because identifying the business’s equipment needs can help the enterprise make its annual numbers. It can also help the business owner plan for future cash needs.
Resolution #2 I will get up to speed with Technology.
Is your technology up to date? Technology is changing daily and becoming more affordable. Hardware and software you might not have been able to afford last year may be in your budget today. Remember, you are your business. Don’t waste hours doing tasks that can be automated or subcontracted for a pittance. Investigate online companies, such as ODESK, who provide administrative services.
When is the last time your website was updated? This should be done at least once per year or every time you have a new offering. Your website is your company’s ‘face’ that the world sees. Is your website easy to navigate? Attractive to your target market? Does it capture leads? Have video? Include testimonials? Start off the new year with a new look. It will energize your existing client base.
Does your social media reflect your company message? Perhaps I should ask, “Are you active on social media?” If not, make it a goal to either hire someone to help you or teach you how to do it yourself.
Resolution #3 I will cut the fat.
Is anything bleeding away your precious hard earned dollars? It should go without saying that every business owner should periodically review vendors and suppliers to make certain that they have competitive prices and are delivering quality service. Sometimes trying out a new vendor provides you with leverage over an existing vendor.
Make sure you include your insurance vendors. Companies grow. Has your company taken on any new assets (computers, office equipment, furniture, stock) or business interests that haven’t been accounted for and protected by existing policies? Is your company adequately covered in terms of liability, fire, and health insurance?
Resolution #4 I will be the expert in my field (or hire one.) According to Guerilla Marketing, clients will pay up to 9% more to purchase from an expert. Your personal expertise gives you an edge over your competition. Do your clients view you as an expert? What will you do to stay at the top of your game? What books will you read? What associations will you join? What training will you invest in? Remember, you are your business. As a sole proprietor you may not wish to take on new hires. This often means you will need to self-educate in order to fill your own deficiencies. Are you a one woman sales team? Consider a sales training course. Struggling with bookkeeping? Perhaps a night course at a community college. Remember, you are your business. Investments in yourself are an investment in your business and therefore should consume a large part of the investment expenses in your yearly budget.
What are your projected staffing needs? Sometimes the better plan is to hire an ‘expert’ in a certain area. First, consider your fastball. What do you do better than anyone else? Now, hire others (or purchase software) to do the other jobs that are preventing you from working in your highest income producing areas.
RESOLUTION #5 I will begin (or continue) to invest in my retirement.Businesses looking to set up a 401K, SEP or other retirement plans should do so as early as possible during the year. Setting up a plan early can permit employees to take full advantage of their annual allowed pre tax contributions. Theoretically, the more time the money is left to grow on a tax-deferred basis, the larger the nest egg will be. For those as busy and confused about this as I was, I highly recommend the book “You’ve Earned it. Don’t Lose it” by Suze Orman.
RESOLUTION #6 I will take care of myself.Women give and give and GIVE. Many times all this giving causes us to run dry. Instead of allowing the holiday to run you, start taking control now, in December. Plan ‘me time’ and have a date with yourself. Maybe it’s just to sit in the quiet, read a good book, have a facial or go with a friend to the art museum. Get in the habit of scheduling a mini vacation for yourself every week.
What is your image saying about you?Is it time to update your wardrobe, hair, makeup? It can be a lot of fun to try something new. Take a friend along for a free makeover.
How is your health? When was your last pap test or breast exam? If it’s been more than a year, schedule one now. Teeth should be cleaned 3 times per year. Schedule your regular medical check up, etc.
Are you happy with your weight? If not, December is the month to do something about it. Why add on the pounds now when you’ll be fighting to take them off again in January?
Longevity is the biggest challenge when it comes to any business. Proper planning creates an environment for productivity.