What Are Your Small Business Goals for 2016?
Individuals aren’t the only ones who benefit from creating goals. It is also important for small businesses. Without challenging ourselves, we become satisfied with the status quo and growth stalls.
The New Year presents a great occasion for introspection and goal setting. Individuals and businesses alike use it as an opportunity to set resolutions. Unfortunately, New Year’s resolutions are often lofty goals that end up broken before we ever even start down the path toward their achievement. The problem is, we create blanket goals without examining the separate steps necessary to accomplishing the whole.
So, how does one create achievable resolutions for a small business? My colleague Kayla recently blogged about how to create business resolutions that stick by starting with a broad goal, then adding in the “how” and the “when” to make them actionable. Once you have the how and the when you identify what elements you need to make it happen and calendar those steps.
Let’s look at five common goals for small businesses and some steps you can take to make them achievable in 2016. Think about which goals you can customize further to work for you. Work in your personal “how” and “when” and you will be on your way to making your small business resolutions “stick.”
Goal #1: Commit to Fiscal Health
- Reduce Waste – Whether you make widgets or bread, waste can plague any business. Identify your potential waste sources, including wasted labor hours. Evaluate your systems to monitor waste. Are you accurately recording your wasted inventory or are you just assuming you know your waste percentage? Are you optimizing the schedules of your hourly employees? If you identify that you have a waste problem, set a goal with measurable steps you will take by specific dates to reduce waste in your business.
- Meet with Your CPA or Financial Advisor – Ongoing relationships with professionals who are vested in your business, but not lost in the minutia of day to day operations are crucial to the health of your business. Meet quarterly with your CPA to ensure your numbers are up to date and accurate, review financial reports, and get guidance on decisions along the way. Sound financial advice is a wise investment for any business.
Goal #2: Empower Employees
- Delegate New Tasks – Many small business owners get lost “working in the business rather than on the business.” Delegation is imperative to breaking this cycle. Are you coming in every night to count your cash drawer when you have a closer perfectly capable of doing this? Are you micromanaging inventory practices that employees could be implementing? Delegation has two benefits: freeing up your time to focus on business growth, and empowering employees by giving them ownership. Don’t forget that you need to properly train your employees as you delegate to them – good bosses know they must set employees up for success, and proper training is a pillar of this success.
- Ask Employees for Feedback – Maintain an open door policy and encourage employees to be passionate about their pursuits. Ensure you are hosting ongoing monthly team meetings. Employees should know that it’s okay to offer you feedback on aspects of the business that are important to them. Key management decisions remain within the hands of the business owner, but employee feedback can offer ground-up insights in decision making. Be transparent with your motives and the direction of your business.
Goal #3: Grow Your Business
- Review Your Marketing Plan – If you want to grow your business, you can’t simply repeat last year’s marketing plan. Marketing trends change frequently, and it’s crucial to assess if there are new trends you can leverage. Are you still doing only print advertising when digital ads are taking off in your market? Are you still promoting the same seasonal specials you had five years ago when trends have shifted to the “next big thing?” While core branding elements should have staying power, your marketing plan should evolve. Review and plan in advance so you can implement promotions easily throughout the year.
Goal #4: Refresh Your Space
- Evaluate Your FFE – Take a look at your business and evaluate your FFE (fixtures, furniture, and equipment). First, see what your customers see. Are your merchandisers falling apart? Do chairs or tables wobble? If so, fix or replace them – image is everything! Second, evaluate the state of your equipment. Do you have crucial pieces of equipment that are in need of repair? Do you have an important piece of equipment that has broken and you’ve replaced with “workarounds”? Fix it! Often, the time spent on extra labor for a workaround quickly surpasses the cost of repairing what’s actually broken. “Spend money to make money” and ensure your equipment is in working order. The quality of your FFE’s will also significantly impact the selling price of your business when that time comes around.
- Refresh Something in Your Storefront – Again, image is everything. Has it been five years since you’ve painted your walls? Do you have marketing materials visible that reflect out of date promotions or products? Do you have out-of-season holiday décor visible in your customer area? Do your walls have scuffs and dings that can easily be removed? Is there a fine coat of dust on your merchandisers? All of these are items that can be quickly and affordably refreshed. Make the time to refresh by implementing a monthly deep cleaning and repair checklist.
Goal # 5: Expand and Polish your Expertise
- Subscribe to an Industry Periodical – As a business owner, customers look to you to be the neighborhood expert on your product. This means you need to be an expert not only on what’s happening within your business, but you need to look at your broader market, as well. If a customer asks if you plan on carrying the “next big thing,” you need an informed and factual answer – “I don’t know” won’t cut it forever. It’s easy to become an “expert” on what you’re doing within your own four walls and lose touch with what’s going on in the broader market. Subscribing to relevant industry periodicals helps you stay abreast of trends that will impact your business sooner or later. Knowing what’s coming will give you time to strategize, rather than be reactionary.
- Read One Book Per Quarter Relevant to Your Business or Industry – Whether it’s a broader book like The Tipping Point or it’s something specific to your industry, reading and note-taking allow you to evaluate your business practices and implement new ideas. Small business owners don’t always have great opportunities for professional development, but reading offers great continuing education.
Which achievable resolution is most important to you this year? Pick one, add your “how” and “when” and make it happen! Let us know what goals you are working on for your small business in the comments.