If you want your business to grow and succeed, Excelsior Growth Fund’s 2017 Small Business Resolutions is an essential, step-by-step guide to assessing areas for improvement and setting realistic goals. It will help you understand your business’s financial statements, set financial management goals and develop strategic business partnerships that drive success. Start today, and you can strengthen your business’s brand, your professional networks and your profits by this time next year.
1. Resolve to get educated: Understand your business’s financial statements
Financial problems, from a lack of working capital to unmanageable debt repayment schedules, are the primary reason that most small businesses fail – and still, an alarming number of business owners don’t understand their financial statements. If you’re among them, you’re missing critical information that can make or break your business, like your cash flow position, available credit or debt obligations. While it’s wise to use the services of a bookkeeper or accountant to take care of the day-to-day work and other filings, it’s still extremely important to understand your business’s financial health.
Step 1: Enroll in a class that covers profit and loss statements, balance sheets and cash flow statements. You can find courses like this through your local Small Business Development Center or through SCORE, and several continuing education or adult education classes taught through local public school districts – many are free or low-cost, too.
Step 2: If you don’t already use a certified public accountant (CPA) for your taxes and other filings, hire one to work with you for a few hours early in 2017, and then for a couple of hours each quarter over the course of the year. He or she can review your books and ensure that everything is on track – or gets there – before costly or potentially disastrous mistakes are made. While there’s usually a cost related to this, don’t look at it as an additional expense –consider it an essential investment in your business’s success and it will be worth every penny.
2. Resolve to improve your business’s profitability: Set financial management goals
To get your business where you want it to be financially, create a roadmap by using projections and an action plan to help you track performance throughout the year. Then, be sure to review your business’s progress against quarterly goals to help you determine where your business is headed and give you greater control over planning and growth.
Step 1: Create an action plan for your business with measurable goals and deadlines. Then, through regular reviews, in addition to gauging success, take time to evaluate your business’s weaknesses, too, and determine what development is needed to achieve these goals.
Step 2: Do you truly understand your customers, their needs and what your competition offers? It’s important to review your market often to help you identify new opportunities.Understand your market and create monthly projections.Get help through your local Small Business Development Center or an independent consultant.
3. Resolve to build brand recognition and goodwill: Create strategic business partnerships
Strategic partnerships are one of the best ways to increase exposure and brand awareness for your business. This means not only having relationships that are key to your operations – like suppliers – but also expanding your network to include people and businesses that may be helpful for growth down the line, or as community partners. For example, while a restaurant owner may not have day-to-day business dealings with the owner of the boutique down the road, a good relationship means that each will refer customers to the other’s business and indirectly help them grow.
Step 1: Rather than just introducing yourself and sharing your business card when you go to networking events, optimize your exposure through meaningful connections that help you and others consider ways to beneficially leverage your relationships – and be sure to follow-up, too.
Step 2: Connect with your neighborhood and participate in community events regularly to meet businesspeople and potential clients who want to support other locally based businesses. And don’t just think of the benefit they can bring to your business – consider how you can help them, too, and you’ll position yourself and your business well in the community.
Creating healthy business habits takes time, commitment and discipline, but they’re also essential to helping your business grow. Make 2017 a successful year by deepening your understanding of your business’s financial position, developing a useful workplan and goals, and creating relationships in your industry and community that can help you grow. Establishing best financial and partnership practices takes time, but you can start today and have a healthier, smarter and more successful business year as 2017 begins.
About Excelsior Growth Fund
Excelsior Growth Fund (EGF) helps businesses in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania grow by providing streamlined access to business loans and advisory services. EGF’s signature product, the EGF SmartLoan™, provides up to $100,000 in fast, transparent, and affordable financing through a secure online platform. Larger loans up to $500,000 are also available. EGF is a nonprofit organization and is certified by U.S. Department of Treasury as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). Learn more atwww.excelsiorgrowthfund.org.