How to Set Yourself and Your Business Up for Success in 2018

Amid all the holiday revelry, days off and cookie consumption this December, make sure to carve out some time to spend setting yourself and your business up for success in the new year. Here’s a list of to dos to ensure that 2018 is better than ever for your startup.

Consider what you want to achieve

Whether or not you buy into setting New Year’s Resolutions, now is still a great time to think about where you want your business to be in a year. You might want to keep things status quo, and that’s fine. But maybe you’re ready to accelerate your company’s growth, to increase your customer base or expand to a second location.

Keeping what you want for your brand in mind will help you with the rest of your planning for 2018. This step serves as a mental target for getting you from where you are now to where you want to be in 12 months.

Look where improvements could be made

Think back through 2017. Were there areas where you struggled, or where you could have used some help? Maybe this year you got really busy and didn’t feel adept at handling everything yourself the way you have in the past. It could be time to hire an employee and delegate work so that you free yourself up to work on business strategy and other aspects of the business you enjoy doing.

Or maybe you struggled with cash flow and weren’t able to pay yourself a steady paycheck. That might tell you to take out a line of credit next year, if you can’t stabilize revenue any other way (alternately, you could set up payment policies to nudge your clients to pay invoices on time).

Find processes to streamline

Something that a lot of entrepreneurs overlook is just simplifying what they do on a regular basis. Let’s say you house your customer data in a spreadsheet. It works, but it’s clunky. Now is a great time to look at customer relationship management software, since it’s more robust than a simple spreadsheet, and can save you time.

The processes don’t have to be large ones to be made more productive. If you’re in the habit of checking your email every hour, close that window on your computer and only open it a few times a day. You’ll get more done this way. Or when you’re working on one project, don’t flip to another one since you lose your focus, and multitasking can reduce productivity as much as 40 percent.

Bone up on useful knowledge

Not everything you do to prep for the new year needs to happen in a bubble. Find external resources to get smarter. Is your startup weak on marketing? Check out the latest marketing books on the subject. Want to learn more about SEO? Sign up for an online course. There are also countless resources (like StartupNation, for example) that provide rich information pertinent to you as an entrepreneur.

Knowledge can also come in the form of working with someone who is an expert in what you want to know. Maybe there’s a woman in your business networking group who’s an Instagram expert, who wouldn’t mind giving you a few pointers over coffee. Or maybe it’s time to look for a mentor who can advise you on bigger business decisions.

Consuming knowledge now, while things might be slow at work, will ensure that you are razor sharp when it comes to helping your business grow.

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Get a plan, but be flexible

While it’s a good idea to have a list of things you want to achieve next year (as well as a list of things you need to do to get there), it’s important to be flexible. For example: you might initially decide to put a lot of energy into marketing your business on Twitter in 2018, but midyear, you realize that strategy isn’t working as well as you thought. Maybe a new social media tool sprouts up, and you need the flexibility to try it out.

This is why being rigid in your business planning doesn’t pay off. Have goals, but be willing to let the winds guide you there however you need to be guided.

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