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SWBC's BusinessHub blog is a one-stop resource for business owners and company decision makers.


A Checklist to Help Your Business Start the Year Off Right

new-years-checklist-for-businesses.jpgNow that the dust from the busy holiday season has settled, the tree, lights, and decorations have been stored away, and you've resolved to lose those few extra pounds gained over the past couple of months of holiday dinners and parties, it's time to get back to the business of running your business.

Much like personal resolutions and goals, it's a good idea to kick off a new year with a clear vision of what you'd like to accomplish over the next 12 months. Planning an entire year can be overwhelming, so we've put together a handy checklist to help you get started and stay on track.

1.  Plan with purpose

Whether you're setting personal or business goals, plans can be incredibly elusive if they're not made strategically. Begin by reviewing the goals you made last year, determining if you met them, how you met them, and evaluate the reasons why you didn't meet them if that was the case. This will help you establish a clear objective for your 2016 goals. In order to meet those goals, though, aim to make them SMART. SMART goals are:

Specific—who, what, when, where, and why. A specific goal will typically include a number or figure. 

Measurable—you should be able to measure your progress.

Attainable—challenge yourself, but know the limitations of your business, your staff, etc.

Realistic—be cognizant of past and current obstacles

Timely—deadlines are a must.

Here is an example of a not so SMART goal: "I'd like to increase total revenue." 

And here is an example of a SMART goal: "I'd like to increase revenue of sporting goods by 25% by the end of the fourth quarter." 

Big difference, right? In order to kick off this year with a clear vision of where you're going, plan with purpose by making SMART goals. 

2. Build your sales pipeline

Depending on the type of business you have and the length of your sales cycle, the beginning of the year is a great time to build your pipeline. If you have a longer sales cycle, the beginning of the year is when you'll want to focus on generating leads and ramping up contact with existing clients that you can cross sell to, so that by third and fourth quarter, you'll be in the closing process. If you're in a service industry, you can spend the start of the new year booking appointments and making reservations for the next several months to ensure that your schedule remains steady. 

3. Focus on employees

Many businesses conduct year-end reviews, but if you haven't yet evaluated your team to ensure the right people are in the right positions to help you meet your business goals, now is a great time to make the necessary changes or additions to your team so that it doesn't impact you later in the year. In addition, make sure that your employees completely understand your expectations of them, the goals for the year, and how they are integral to helping you achieve the goals set forth.

4. Touch base with customers

Your customers likely spent the last couple of months in the same holiday frenzy that you did, so now that they are getting back into their normal routines, the beginning of the year is a great time to touch base with them. Depending on the nature of your business and the type of customer database that you have, you could send a thank you or happy new year card, or even send an email with a quick survey to gather valuable feedback that you can use to improve customer service in the coming year.  

The new year is an exciting time for new beginnings and a fresh start. Take all of the lessons—good and bad—that you learned last year, and make this new year your best one yet!

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