Hello 2019! How To Plan For The Year Ahead
With the mad rush of the festive season over, there’s not a minute to waste as business owners are straight back to it. The new year is a great time for business owners to really hit the ground running and implement some resolutions – whether that involves being more organised or learning from last year’s mistakes!
1 in 4 SMEs don’t have a plan in place when they get into motion, which means they could be leaving themselves at risk of unfulfilled goals and stunted growth. To ensure you have your best year yet, we’ve put together a few things you should account for in your planning:
When it comes to setting goals for the new year, it’s worth taking a look at the year just gone to see if there are any learnings you can take from it. That way you can build on these goals without starting from scratch. Think about how your business performed, what you did really well and what you could have done better.
To get a broader view, you could also look at all of your goals from the last few years. How do they compare? What did you manage to achieve? Perhaps you need to be more realistic or need to implement some changes to staff or resourcing? From this you can draw up a new set of goals and tackle them with more wisdom and experience!
Prepare for Seasonality
Even if you’re not a seasonal business, you’re bound to experience fluctuations to some degree. To prepare for this you will need to understand your sales cycles and create a sales forecast. To do this you should look at sales data (which can be found on EPoS systems or financial statements for example) from the last two or three years to see when your business experiences highs and lows in terms of sales.
Once you have your sales forecast you can start to plan and pinpoint how you’re going to deal with those quieter times. Some ideas include:
- Using budget to engage in paid adverts or focusing on some local SEO tactics
- Scaling down outgoings – for example downgrading any subscriptions or plans down from premium to basic
- Focusing on social media to engage followers and getting more traction to your business
- Partnering with other companies to diversify your offering – for example targeting a different audience or location
- Taking some time to network and build contacts for when things pick up again
Identify Key Events
Identifying and planning for key events is crucial so that your business can act in a timely manner to either reduce any risks that are posed or take advantage of new opportunities. The first thing to do is look at key events that are happening in your local area, the UK and then the rest of the world – for example the Rugby World Cup in 2019. Obviously not all events will be relevant so just try to pick a few that you would like to focus on. Having these clearly outlined means you can start planning marketing campaign, events, social media activity, and any offers and promotions well in advance!
As well as promotional events, you should also look at any events that might affect the running of your business. These include tax deadlines, staff holidays, public holidays and any internal business events such as conferences or away days.
The last thing a business wants it to be left under staffed. This can result in sub-standard customer service or leave customers waiting around for products and services. Whether it means employing seasonal staff or having a Plan B at the ready, there are many ways you can prepare.
One option is to keep in contact with previous employees who may be interested in picking up some shifts when needed – after all they’ll already know your business! Or you could advertise for seasonal staff by asking employees if they know any students that would be willing to work during their holidays. You could also advertise onsite with posters or post your available positions on your social media channels. And of course, there’s always the option to go through a staffing agency although this option will mean you have to pay some fees.
If it’s one thing that business owners are always striving for, it’s to improve their cash flow. Why? Because essentially it helps to promote a healthy flow of funds which can keep businesses afloat during hard times as well as giving them a boost in terms of growth. This may mean keeping on top of your finances a bit more or adopting technology to help manage all of your incomings and outgoings.
Another thing you can do is make sure you’re getting paid on time. According to the Federation of Small Businesses, late payments are killing around 50,000 SMEs every year! To make sure you’re not one of these you can carry out tighter credit checks on new customers, automate your invoicing system or set up Direct Debit payments which means you can get paid straight to your account when payment is due.
Finally why not consider applying for a Business Cash Advance? This is a great option for businesses who need some funds to smooth over any fluctuations and keep cash flow steady!
Having a few considerations in place not only means you’re more likely to achieve your goals but also means you can stay on top of the running of your business. Plus, planning in advance means you can continue to reap the benefits all throughout the year!