Top Small-Business Resolutions for 2016

Image result for business resolutionsStuck in a small-business rut? If you've resolved that your business can do better in the new year, here are 10 tips that can help.
 Lose weight. Quit smoking. Join a gym. Floss. January's the time for personal new year's resolutions. It's also a great time to resolve to take steps to improve your small business.
As someone who has worked with small businesses for over 20 years, helping them develop effective strategies for growth, I'm well aware of how just the process of setting goals—and resolutions are a form of goals—help move you toward success.
And through my writing—my weekly USA Today column and my books, including my business plan guide Successful Business Plan: Secrets & Strategies, I've helped hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs establish and reach their goals.

As you enter 2016, here are my top 10 new year's resolutions for small businesses. Hopefully, you'll still be sticking to them long after your gym membership card has gathered dust.
By specializing in a particular area or targeting a specific type of customer, you can actually make more money than trying to be all things to all people.

1. Decide to grow.

Growth doesn't just happen—you have to make a conscious decision to make growth your priority. That means making a plan for growth, committing the resources necessary, and, first, making the mental shift. Recognize that you can't do everything yourself. In a growth-oriented company, you have to become captain of the ship instead of first mate. Resolve to delegate more.

2. Figure out what makes you money.

Not all money is equal. Small-business owners focus their attention on making enough money to keep their doors open; that's "cash flow." But in 2016, resolve to put more effort into activities that are the most profitable. In particular, concentrate on developing sources of recurring income: customers who have the need and capacity to buy from you repeatedly.

3. Find a niche.

If you want to grow, remember “go small to go big." By specializing in a particular area or targeting a specific type of customer, you can actually make more money than trying to be all things to all people. Clients feel more confident in purchasing from you if they feel you understand their needs. And it's easier for you to target and market to customers. You can even charge more! Resolve to specialize.

4. Get found—free.

If you're a local business—retailer, restaurant, cafe—resolve to be found when someone searches for your type of business. Take 30 minutes and list your business for free on search engine local listings. Then you'll show up when a prospective customer searches for a business like yours on the web or a mobile device. Here are the places to get listed—and found—for free:

5. Limit time on social media.

Social media can be a great boon for small businesses, but it can eat up your day if you're not careful. Establish a time limit—say 30 minutes a day maximum— schedule it for a specific time each day and then click off and get back to work. Be efficient by scheduling your social media posts in advance using a social media management tool like Hootsuite, Buffer or TweetDeck.

6. Get control of your finances.

In the crush of work—or from the fear of finding out bad news—many entrepreneurs hesitate to look too deeply and regularly into their financial reports: profit and loss, cash flow, aging accounts receivable and payables. Ignorance, however, is not bliss. Resolve to check your finances at least once a week.

7. Work on your annual business plan.

Resolve to develop an annual business plan each and every year. Developing an annual business plan saved my business at least twice and has certainly been the single most important contribution to my company's survival and growth. January's a perfect time to create a road map for your business for 2016.

8. Move to the cloud.

It's 2016 and time to finally unleash yourself from your desk by moving to cloud-based applications. We moved virtually all my company's operations to cloud-based systems a few years ago, and it's done wonders for our flexibility and helped us grow. At the very least, get an online document storage and sharing system, such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Apple iCloud, or Microsoft OneDrive.

9. Take care of “business" rather than “busy-ness."

Do you often feel overwhelmed with all the stuff you have to do every day? Are all of the things you have to do equally important in growing your business? In 2016, resolve to take care of “business" instead of “busy-ness" by staying focused on the big picture.

10. Support your community's small businesses.

Last, but certainly not least, put your money where your small-business heart is. We small businesses have to stick together and support one another. Recognize the critical importance of vibrant local business communities in our economy. Work with other small businesses in your community—on marketing, networking and rallying your neighborhoods.

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