Happy New Year! It’s the perfect time of year to review where your business has been, and where it’s headed in the future. It’s time to re-evaluate the measures you have in place in terms of equipment, products, services, technical needs, business plan, and employees. Do you really need that high-end copier with the costly rental fee, or would an affordable all-in-one machine suffice? Are you outgrowing your phone system and could benefit from a PBX system? Are you having computer problems because you haven’t installed software upgrades in a while? Are your employees overworked and stressed out, and could you improve their productivity by hiring additional workers? With a thorough review, you’re sure to detect ways to cut costs, streamline operations, or fine-tune your products and services. Remember, if a business does not change and update with the times, it can quickly be left in the past.
The top three things to know about evaluating your small business for the New Year:
1. Proactive measures in updating and keeping equipment current save you time, money, and effort, while “reactive” emergency updates or repairs can be expensive and inconvenient.
2. Updating the services you buy means making sure you’re paying a fair price, and getting the most for your money.
3. Evaluating everything from your business plan to your business’s products helps to ensure you’re still heading in the direction you want to go, and you’re doing it in the most efficient manner possible.
Follow your business planAll businesses should have both short- and long-term business plans. If you do not have a good business plan in place, how do you know you’re on the right road to achieving your goals? Now is the time to stop and check the map for directions.
Focus on financial systemsFinance is one area the small biz owner can’t afford to let things slide, and this often means financial systems need upgrading each year. Make sure that if you DO decide to upgrade, the system you choose helps you save time and money, and doesn’t require a CPA to operate it.
Power up your Web presenceThere are still some small businesses whose online presence is minimal, and some who –gasp! –do not even have a Web site. Make 2007 the year that your Web site is given priority status – or you may find yourself lost behind your competitors.
Assess equipment and services for replacement or updatesRemember that old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”? That applies here. Evaluate your current office equipment, supplies, and services objectively to determine which current measures – whether they’re phone, equipment, or business supplies – are inefficient, outdated, or nickel-and-diming your business to death.
Upgrade your technologyThe technology upgrades are endless, but some products – such as the updated Microsoft Office 2007, and the company’s Exchange Server – are must-haves for those who want to stay on the cutting edge to keep their company ahead of the competition, with efficient computer-based offerings.
Re-evaluate health insurance offeringsHealth insurance is one of the most important benefits you can offer your workers. Unfortunately, the costs for such plans are often exorbitant, even though the benefits are often vital to the small business’s long-term success. Make it a point to evaluate your health insurance plan each year to ensure that it’s still the best one for you.
- Update your financial and tax files once a year, putting last year’s files in storage. Remember to keep your tax and supporting records for at least six years.
- Do a SWOT analysis on your business’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats, and then address those things that need it.
- Evaluating your current business systems and services does not mean making sure you have the most recent technical doohickeys; it means getting what your business needs to help it run more effectively.
- Don’t forget to evaluate where the company’s money, time, and effort has gone over the past year to determine if there are areas that need more or less attention.
- Don’t assume that a system or piece of equipment is useless if it just needs a new part, or long-overdue servicing, and make a resolution to do proactive maintenance on your business vehicles, systems, etc., so you can tackle little problems before they become big problems.