Friday, December 28, 2018

5 New Year’s Resolutions for Businesses

By Ben Kinsey, CPA

Image courtesy of flickr
With January less than a week away, I thought I’d take the time to remind you that not only individuals should consider making resolutions for the new year.  So should every business owner.  That’s because if you start off the new year with the right goals in mind, it will only make it easier to help you keep your cash-flow positive and make the bumps in the road smaller.
Resolution #1: Cover Your Assets

As hard as it is to build a successful business, it can prove even harder to sustain it through the ups and downs that every business goes through.  The first thing you have to realize is that there are others out there who would seek to undermine your business.  Whether competitors or criminals, these individuals covet what you have and are prepared to do whatever it takes to help themselves to your good fortune by undermining your efforts.  Of particular interest are the following:

1.      Show me the money – There are several ways that your bank account can be bled dry.  One way is by having your account hacked, a second is by paying bogus accounts payable invoices and the third is through the actions of any employee who has access.
2.      Data into dollars – Either through the theft of your valuable data or by holding your office machines hostage via ransomware, it’s all too common for hackers to get their hooks into your business online.  Often the costs associated with recovering lost data can cripple or even sink a small business.  If you haven’t had your computers, server and smartphones surveyed by a competent security specialist, it’s like leaving your cash register open.
3.      Have you thanked your employees lately? – The reason I ask is that happy employees help your business grow, while unhappy ones can do more damage to your business than a wily competitor.

Resolution #2: Improve Your People Power

Image courtesy of flickr
Speaking of employees, one of the best resolutions you can make next year is to improve the quality of life for those who help your business best the competition.  Here are a few ideas that are proven to put the power to your people.

1.      Clear out the dead wood – While capable, motivated employees can be worth their weight in gold, underperforming, dissatisfied ones can cost you big money.  If you haven’t done performance reviews on your staff in a long while, January is a perfect time to assess what you have in terms of manpower. 
2.      Train those you retain – Once you eliminate those in your employ who aren’t ready, willing and able to row the boat in the same direction as the rest of the crew, the best thing you can do to up the ante on all those who make the cut is to continue to educate them.  This will not only make them even more valuable, but it can help raise the motivation level of your staff by taking the time to help them improve.

Resolution #3: Delegate to Elevate

Here’s another idea to help improve cash-flow; instead of taking on more and more responsibility on your own, delegate and even consider outsourcing tasks.  One of the biggest mistakes that many business owners make when they try to grow their business is to try to do more and more, or to micromanage employees.  Both of these can hurt your business, since there is only so much you can do and employees who are micromanaged tend to resent the fact.  The secret to improved cash-flow is to improve your workflow, as well as those of everyone down the line.  Just as you can take the time to survey employee performance, you can also survey the performance of your business and all the tasks it performs.  Once you do this, you will discover several ways to increase productivity and save money.  If you don’t know how to conduct a business performance survey yourself, consider delegating that task to a business consultant. 

Resolution #4: Recycle Your Customers

Image courtesy of Max Pixel
As hard as it is to land new customers, the many companies miss the boat is because they don’t try to recycle their customers.  What I mean by recycle in this case is to coddle, cajole and contact customers after the sale in order to make them buy more of your products and services.  If you communicate with and entice your current customers, odds are they will buy more often.  Even better, satisfied customers can be a gold mine when it comes to referring their friends your way.  By enticing, I don’t mean you should bombard your customers with coupons and advertisements.  I’m talking about providing them with information that helps keep your business top of mind.  Blogs and social posts are great ways to engage customers without aggravating them.  An occasional event, party or contest doesn’t hurt either. 

Resolution #5: Keep Your Eyes on the Competition

While most business owners spend most of their time working in the business, the ones who succeed the fastest are those who make the time to work on their business.  One of the ways you can assess and improve the performance of your business is by keeping track of your top five competitors.

1.      Online the emperor wears no clothes – If you want to see how you rate versus the competition, do a web search.  Not only will you quickly be able to determine who is generating the greatest exposure online, you can also check out offers and product releases, as well as online reviews. 
2.      How does the size and scope of your online audience stack up to the competition?  While you can’t see how much traffic a competitor’s website is generating, you can easily see how big of a social following they have, as well as how many people have viewed their YouTube videos. 
3.      What kind of marketing are your competitors doing offline compared to your business?  If you don’t have the time to scour the airwaves and local print venues for competing ads, feel free to delegate the task to an employee. 

Just remember that New Year’s Resolutions are easier to make than they are to fulfill.   If you want them to be more than just notes on a napkin, you need to take the steps to make them part of your company’s business plan for the coming year.

Ben Kinsey, CPA of Small Business Group works with owners of closely held corporations in the Northeast Florida region.  If you work in the North Florida area we offer a FREE initial Consultation at our office, please contact Small Business Group if you would like to know more about strategies for your business.