How to keep your small business on track in 2018

The phrase “New Year, new me” suggests the promise to exercise more than last year and perhaps stay calmer in your day-to-day life. However, if you’re a business owner, solopreneur or side-gigger, it’s just as important to set new goals for your business.

The key in reaching goals is to set clear and achievable steps along the way. The New year allows small-business owners to set well thought-out resolutions. It’s an opportunity to increase and stabilise cashflow, while looking at how to evolve your business.

Where better to start on some resolutions than by asking yourself the tricky but important questions?

Question #1: Where is your business going?

When you first started your business what was your end-goal? Have you achieved this, and if not, what’s getting in the way?

What opportunities are available to you? Is there a gap in your market?

Ultimately decide where you want the business to be in one year from now, and then three.

Tip: Take the time to do this planning now – the first few months of the year are often a quiet time for Australian businesses, so take advantage and plan. Redefining goals will help guide your decision-making in the year ahead.

Question #2: What do you need to achieve your goals?

It’s important to be practical when it comes to the various processes, plans and tools you will need to put your goals into motion.

Make sure you set yourself a time frame for reaching each milestone and be conscious about learning from previous mistakes.

Tip: As your business grows, it is not uncommon for systems that worked initially to cause problems down the line. This is particularly true of manual tasks, which can start to slow you down.

Work out how much of your time you spent on each activity last year, and how this could be better spent. If you’re spending a lot of your time on marketing or website design, consider the help of freelancers from websites like Upwork to take on the task.

Alternatively, if it’s the nitty-gritty that needs to be addressed consider a virtual assistant that takes the day-to-day tasks off your plate so that you can focus on strategy play. Outsourcing tasks like your calendar, or even email, can save you plenty of time.

Question #3: What other tools will help you out?

The simple use of inexpensive, powerful digital tools goes hand-in-hand with a fresh start and a new set of goals. If you’re operating with outdated systems, then you’re already behind.

Tip: Lean on technology to help your business move quickly and grow.

Invoicing and expense-management tools such as Invoice2go help you get paid on time. Reassess your payment methods and ensure you’re accepting as many forms of payment as possible, particularly debit and credit card. The easier it is for your customers to pay you, the faster you get paid, and that keeps the cash flowing.

Cloud-based collaboration tools like Slack help save time and shrink email inboxes by connecting your team with the apps, services, and resources they need to work efficiently.

Project-management applications such as Trello help you manages all your projects and offers visibility on which employees might be able to take on more work.

Question #4: And, most importantly…how much do you want to succeed?

Ask yourself why you started your business initially, and what it was that drove you. At the end of the day are you still passionate about succeeding in your field?

If yes, give yourself the best chance of that success by transitioning to simple tech tools where possible. This will give you the best chance of not only increasing cashflow but also achieving your long-term goals.

Tip: Don’t sit around and wait for the year to take off – take advantage of the downtime to get your business back in shape. If you wait, you’ll miss your chance.

Chris Strode, Founder, www.invoice.2go.com

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