March 8, 2023 By Suzanne Robertson

It’s critical to approach Q1 with tangible, measurable goals that can help your business move forward. Each year brings unique challenges for entrepreneurs so your plans from last year likely need a refresh. 

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Consumer trends for 2023, that you might want to plan for, include a continued focus on a seamless e-commerce experience, self-service check out for bricks and mortar shops, chatbot support, stellar customer service, less wasteful packaging, and more. It may be a good idea to keep an eye on your competition as you set goals. 

A growing trend is consumer support for small and local businesses. Now may be a great time to capitalize on the popularity of “shopping small” and put business strategies in place to strengthen, get your name out there, and increase your bottom line. 

Consider these ideas to help your business succeed.

Hold an end of the year all-hands meeting with your team

Your team helps you run your business efficiently. Show your appreciation and let your employees know that you value their input.

An all-hands meeting is a company-wide gathering where all employees, leaders, and stakeholders meet to discuss the business, share information, and answer questions. It’s often a great way to give your valued employees insight about the company they work for every day. 

Your all-hands meeting could include:

  • Updates about the business of the past month, quarter, or season
  • The company mission and strategy
  • Any milestones and the people who made them possible
  • Q&A

Revisit your business plan

A business plan has two primary purposes. First, it acts as an organized roadmap for marketing, sales, production, distribution, etc. Second, a plan may be required when seeking funding from a bank, credit union, or another type of lender. (NOTE: SmartBiz® does not require a business plan when you apply for an SBA loan or a bank term loan through our network.)

If you don’t have a business plan in place use our guide to help you get started. How to Write a Business Plan: The Ultimate Guide

Analyze financial statements

It’s paramount to understand where your company stands financially. Compare your business financials to prior years so you have a global view of your business. It’s typically a best practice to work with a financial professional to help you crunch the numbers. The Small Business Administration (SBA) suggests that you review the following:

Profit and loss statement

The function of a profit and loss (P&L) statement is to total all sources of revenue and subtract all expenses to ensure you are profitable. Review this article to help you get started if you don’t already have this statement in place: Business Profit and Loss: Tips to Prepare Your Statement.

Cash flow statement

A cash flow statement tells you how much cash is coming into and leaving your business. If your bottom line is coming up short, review our blog post Solving Cash Flow Problems Due to the Pandemic.

Balance sheet

This document provides a snapshot of a company’s financial health at a specific point in time. You can use them regularly to see your business’s net worth and to provide lenders with an idea of how much you own, debts owed, and how much you invest in your operations: How to Create a Balance Sheet for Your Business.

Set goals

Revisit last year’s business goals and adjust to address your business as it stands now. Work to set goals that are realistic and attainable. Our article, Setting Business Goals: A Comprehensive Guide, outlines the SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) method to help get you going.

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Review customer feedback

Your day probably moves at lightning speed but taking time to review customer feedback  can help guide your customer service, inventory offerings, and more. If you don’t have a review collection system in place, consider incentives for customers to post on sites like TrustPilot®, Google® Reviews, or Yelp®. Our post can help you get started: The Best Way to Gather Customer Feedback.

Check your work/life balance

How do you feel physically and mentally? Review your day to determine if there are tasks you can cut down, eliminate, or delegate. Check out our blog post 4 Essential Tips for Avoiding Burnout as a Small Business Owner for actionable advice.

Conduct  reviews and show appreciation

If you have employees, now is a great time to do annual reviews. In addition to offering salary increases or bonuses, a holiday gift can be meaningful. We have some suggestions regarding  gifts on our blog here: Employee Holiday Gift Ideas for Small Business Owners.

Evaluate staffing needs

Are you in need of additional help heading into 2023? Check out this article for hiring information: 7 Things a Business Owner Needs to Know About Hiring.

If you have tasks that don’t require a full time, salaried employee, consider hiring a freelancer or contractor. Freelancers can perform tasks like marketing, SEO strategy, accounting, public relations, and more. See our  article to determine whether independent contractors or employees are the best fit for your business: Employee or Independent Contractor: Which One is Best for You?

Explore giving back

Giving back to your community or a national organization is a great way to elevate your profile and help a cause you believe in. Whether supporting a local school or sports team, donating to a non-profit organization, or collecting items for the needy, you can help make a difference. 

Prepare  a communication plan 

Have a plan in place for clear discourse with employees and customers. Customer communication can include social media posts, blog articles, newsletters, or website messaging. Be open and honest about the challenges you may be facing and share the wins too.

Consider outside financing

Low-cost outside funding can be used for working capital or to refinance high-cost debt.

The first step is to determine how much you need. Work with a financial professional if you’re not sure. Next, look at your credit scores. This is key to getting the funds you need when you need them.  Some types of funding include SBA loans, bank  term loans, and business lines of credit.

Final thoughts

With research, planning, and creative strategies in place, you’ll be well positioned to face 2023. The SmartBiz Small Business Blog is full of resources to help you succeed covering topics like marketing, staffing, credit scores, lending, and more.

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