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2017 is finally here, signaling the time to begin looking at New Year’s resolutions—not only for individuals, but also for small business owners.

Even if 2016 was a profitable and positive year for your business, there are always improvements to be made. The time is right to examine such possibilities for even greater improvement and success.

So what is the best advice for setting realistic goals for one’s small business? First, let’s look at what goes into setting goals in the first place.

What are Goals?

Simply put, goals are things one aims for. But there’s more to it than that. Goals are considerably more powerful in ensuring that one achieves success in whatever endeavor he or she undertakes. They’re a carrot at the end of a stick, something to be pursued with vigor.

For small business owners, goals enable us to set a framework in order to direct focus in the most productive direction, to establish a workable timeline, and to achieve our ultimate aspirations.

Experts assert that all goals should contain certain key aspects. These include:

  • Honesty
  • Specificity
  • Optimism
  • Realism
  • Both short- and long-term applications
  • Income
  • Lifestyle
  • Ego gratification

Setting Your Business Goals

Defining business goals is a priority, especially at the outset. According to Bento, SMART business goals are the way to go in 2017 because of their greater effectiveness over more conventional goal setting.

SMART goals are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Time-based

Specific 2017 Goals to Strive For

There are several goals which are both common and desired among many small businesses. Here are a few ideas of goals that you can aim for this year for your business.

1. Manage cash flow more effectively.

The inability to do so jeopardizes a company’s life force. Suggestions for achieving this include:

  • Insist on up-front, partial payments
  • Invoice promptly
  • Pursue receivables
  • Offer a benefit for quick payments
  • Pay bills only when due

2. Improve the business’ online/digital presence.

With the increase in potential customers and clients relying increasingly on Google and Yelp for local business information, it is critical for small business owners to ensure that potential customers can find them. Tools to increase this presence include developing and regularly updating a website, considering a blog, and investing in online marketing.

3. Build a strong social media presence.

Similar to improving one’s online presence, improving your social media presence is also crucial. From Facebook to Google My Business to Twitter to Instagram, there are numerous options available. According to Statista, nearly 80 percent of the U.S. population frequents some type of social media platform, with many frequenting multiple ones.

4. Reduce business costs.

Among the most cited reasons for small business revenue struggles is poor expense management skills. Ways to improve these shortcomings include:

  • Purchasing in bulk
  • Improving efficiency with automation, where possible
  • Going green
  • Eliminating unnecessary expenses
  • Building a strong professional relationship with suppliers

5. Improve leadership skills.

Regardless of the business’ size, leadership is a key skill. Improving interpersonal and listening skills, updating employee handbooks, re-examining hiring and recruitment practices, ensuring employee morale and productivity, and learning how to make better decisions are all necessary and important goals.

Five Quick Tips

According to Small Business Trends, here are five quick and easy tips for ensuring that your New Year’s goals are met.

  1. Ask yourself whether you are where you want to be.
  2. Create a five-year roadmap, complete with short- and long-term goals.
  3. Take smaller bites by developing short-term tasks which are easily achieved.
  4. Stay focused on achieving goals, not just setting them.
  5. Don’t forget about hard work.

For more information on setting and achieving your small business goals for the New Year, including making sure that your company is properly covered with the right insurance, please contact us.