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5 Smart, High-Impact Steps to Prepare Your Business for 2018

December 13, 2017 | Small Business Loans
new year business strategy

The Times Square Ball drop is an iconic tradition that signals bittersweet farewells and anticipated renewals. However, if you’re a small business owner, don’t let this major event be the starting line of your business planning for 2018.

While the holidays can be hectic, entrepreneurs should actually take the time now to formulate their game plan for the upcoming year. Here’s a roundup of five smart, high-impact steps to help you along — from the business advising team at CDC Small Business Finance, a leading small business lender and non-profit.

Last year alone, this team provided more than 6,000 hours of technical help to small businesses, free of charge. Here’s what they had to say…

1. Reflect back on 2017

Take the time to assess the good, the bad, and yes, even the ugly experiences of 2017, said Ray Hivoral, one of CDC’s senior business advisors. Did your business meet your 2017 goals? If so, what worked? What didn’t? Seek to understand how you can improve or meet objectives moving forward, from increasing employee retention to improving customer experience. Open up the year-end discussion to employees and others to gather ideas and get their buy-in for the year ahead. Don’t skip on hiring a trusted bookkeeper or accountant to complete your year-end operating financial statements, which tell the story of how your year went. “And believe in the numbers they tell you,” said Chuck Sinks, who leads the business advising division.

2. Jot down your plan for 2018…and beyond.

If you didn’t set goals or a budget in 2017, don’t make the same mistake in 2018. Establishing annual goals and budgeting are key parts of preparing your business for the next phase of growth, Sinks added. Accomplish this by creating a strategic plan for your business. Ask yourself where you want your company (and you) to be not only at the end of 2018, but also in 2020, 2022…and so on. Then develop the tactics to execute your strategic plans such as increasing your social media marketing, buying equipment, etc. Don’t forget: Write these plans down. “It is magic when you write things down,” Sinks said. “They happen.”

3. Take care of the essentials.

Get your taxes filed in a timely manner, said Marsel Watts, also part of the business advising team. This is particularly important for businesses planning on getting financing. The most challenging item for applicants is providing their tax returns, added Watts, who is based in Los Angeles. Without filed tax returns, the loan process is then delayed. She reiterated the importance of hiring financial professionals who can help you determine if you need financing in 2018. “Business owners should give their accountant, bookkeeper or CPA a call and get the ball rolling,” Watts said.

4. Keep up with changing laws.

The minimum wage in California will increase for nearly all workers, said senior business advisor Eduardo Landeros. Employers with 25 of fewer workers must pay at least $10.50 an hour while those employing 26 or more must pay $11 an hour. Both rates reflect a $0.50 bump from the previous calendar year. There are exceptions to this law. For more, check out this state website.

5. Don’t let yourself off the hook.

Now that you’ve set realistic goals, establish a system of self-accountability. Firm up quarterly objectives with mentors or advisors and meet with them regularly, Hivoral advised. This way, you’ll have a solid support system in place to ensure you’re sticking with your plan and meeting your goals.

CDC Small Business Finance wishes everyone a safe and fruitful New Year! Potential or current borrowers can count on our team of experienced business advisors to help with business strategy, credit repair, and much more. Let’s talk! Reach us at getadvice@cdcloans.com or (619) 243-8631.

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