by Anne Dorsey
The lines between work and personal time are often blurry when it comes to entrepreneurs and small business owners. This is beneficial at the beginning of a new year when the world is so focused on resolutions and goals. Having a specific time to set business goals is just as important as setting personal goals.
If your business goals have been mostly wishful thinking or well-intentioned-but-poorly-executed plans in the past, here are some clear steps you can take to get your business on track for the year.
First, get your financial data organized. Most business owners have this information “in their heads” and are often surprised when they see it organized on paper. When your financial data is clear, it is a powerful decision-making tool.
Using programs such as QuickBooks® organizes your financial information into a format which is easy for you and any accountant to understand. By linking QuickBooks® to your business banking and credit accounts, you can easily create reports to see how much money you actually made and how much you spent. This allows you to make appropriate changes within your business without fear of the financial fallout.
For example, if your revenue has been increasing substantially from year to year but your payroll expenses have stayed about the same, it may be time to review the salary and benefits packages offered to your staff.
Having organized financial data can also assist you with forecasting and planning. Successful businesses are able to stay on track by anticipating future needs and planning for them, rather than beings surprised by business slumps or living in fear of financially crippling equipment failure.
Set goals for both income and savings to allow you to grow your business with peace of mind. Set quarterly income goals and break them down into monthly and weekly amounts to make it easy to track. Give yourself some visual inspiration by keeping a progress chart.
If you have a major expense coming up, plan and save for it. Hoping that money magically appears in your account the same day your computer crashes rarely pays off. Instead, take the cost of an expected equipment purchase and divide it over the time you expect that piece of equipment to last. Put that amount into a separate business savings or money market account for long-term equipment expenses (keeping it separate makes easier to remember that it has a specific purpose and less likely that you’ll spend it when other, smaller needs arise).
When setting goals, utilize the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely) Goals format. Specific goals should clear and well defined. Measurable goals include specific criteria to assess your progress. Achievable goals can be accomplished based on your available time, finances, and abilities. Realistic goals should be within reach and relevant to your business. Timely goals have a clearly defined starting and end date.
Without goals, business owners often wander and work aimlessly, reacting to the environment around them instead of being proactive about growing their businesses. This difference is clear when unexpected events occur. If the economy slows, a business owner with goals and a clear plan is better equipped to handle the change, while one without goals and plans may have to lay-off employees or close their doors.
Don’t leave the success of your business to chance. Get organized and start setting goals that will push you to do better this year than last year and get you on track for stability in both business and personal finances.
Anne Dorsey is the owner of Clerical Support Services. She is a Platinum Certified ProAdvisor with QuickBooks®. To learn more about setting up QuickBooks® for your business and getting your business finances and payroll in order, call 252.412.5171 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.