Making New Year’s resolutions is not for everyone. However, the start of a new year offers small business owners a chance to look back at the past 12 months, evaluate the successes and lessons learned, and create a plan for making improvements going forward.

A word to the wise: Statistics show that only 9.2% of people actually achieve their New Year’s resolutions. One reason is we tend to set too many goals and cannot maintain the drive or the focus to accomplish them all. Assess the current state of your company’s operations and available resources objectively, and make sure you focus on a handful of goals that are realistic and achievable.

Here are five things to consider including in your 2019 small business growth plans:

1 – Invest now in future expansion.

Keeping track of expenses, pinpointing unnecessary expenditures, and knowing when and where to cut costs helps small businesses maintain profitability. However, running an efficient company is not just about controlling spending, but about spending money wisely. If purchasing new vehicles or better equipment, hiring additional staff, or opening a second location will increase productivity or expand your trading area, consider investing a portion of the profits you generated in 2018 towards growing your business.

It might also be a good time to automate some of your business processes to improve efficiency and save money. For instance, if you are still maintaining your company books on a spreadsheet, invest in accounting software. The latest bookkeeping apps are easy to use, so you don’t need an accounting degree to keep accurate books. Online accessibility makes these apps an essential tool for monitoring cash flow, managing payroll, and speeding up invoice payments, all while helping you avoid costly errors that can result in lost income or tax penalties. Putting the right program in place not only minimizes the amount of time you spend on administrative functions, but it can help reduce costs, improve accuracy, and ultimately help your small business grow.

2 – Plan for technology upgrades.

Taking advantage of available tech tools is a surefire way to increase the efficiency of your small business. Technology has evolved to the point where mobile devices, cloud computing, and software applications make it possible to do everything from ordering raw materials to collaborating with contractors from anywhere, any time.

Investing in new technologies lets you streamline business processes and improve productivity, allowing employees to access documents and accomplish tasks from any connected device. There are tools built to solve specific time management and productivity issues, improve communication, streamline accounting and payroll, and manage cash flow. The key is to zero in on programs that meet your needs today and will scale with your business.

The process of replacing legacy technologies can be a boon to your operations and boost employee productivity, but it can be costly. It is essential that you carefully manage software, hardware, and network upgrades to maximize your technology budget and minimize disruption and downtime. Once you have determined short and long-term objectives for your company as part of your business planning process, you can develop a technology support plan that will help you invest wisely over time to achieve your goals.

3 – Prioritize professional development.

Employee training and development is not just for large corporations. Having a knowledgeable and professional staff can positively impact productivity, customer service, retention, and revenue for businesses of all sizes.

Failure to provide adequate and effective training and development can lead to sub-par performance and costly mistakes that can hurt your bottom line. It can also have a negative impact on employee retention. Many of today’s workers expect to be given ample opportunity to develop new skills and grow as professionals. However, a recent Gallup survey found that only 39% of millennial workers said they learned something new at work in the past 30 days. Top performers of all ages may be quick to look elsewhere if they are not learning enough on the job.

Once you have invested in hiring the best people for your small business, you need to ensure they reach their full potential and contribute positively to your success. In addition to developing targeted training programs and providing ongoing job-related and professional development opportunities for your team, allow employees to attend conferences and educational seminars or workshops that teach industry-specific skills. Encourage skill-sharing among team members, and make the time to share your own skills and experience with key staff.

4 – Secure growth financing.

Small businesses often lack the financial resources to fully implement their growth plans. Fortunately, the lending environment remains positive, and savvy business owners who need an infusion of working capital know that financing can be a smart short-term solution.

Whether you need to purchase additional raw materials, upgrade equipment, or pay for staff training to increase sales, Summit Financial Resources can help. We offer working capital loans for small to medium-sized businesses that use your accounts receivable and other assets as collateral.

We can mix and match from a variety of flexible financing options, including invoice factoring, asset-based lending, inventory lending, and equipment financing. We are not regulated like a bank, so we can respond quickly to the changing needs of your business and expand your cash flow in a matter of days or weeks, not months. You can count on Summit Financial Resources to help you seize opportunities to generate revenue today and all year long.

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5 – Focus on employee engagement.

In order for your small business to grow, you need more than a desirable product or service, a solid business plan, and adequate financial resources. It’s important to develop a strategy for creating a culture in which your team is genuinely engaged in your company’s mission and goals.

Many employees are seeking recognition for their contributions, not necessarily a bigger paycheck. One study found that pay ranks no higher than fifth on the list of most important reasons why people excel in their jobs. What motivates employees most is how they are made to feel by the organizations they work for and the bosses who manage them.

According to Business News Daily, prioritizing employee happiness is a key business trend for 2019. Focusing on providing a positive working environment and showing genuine appreciation will result in happier, more dedicated employees and higher company morale. Happier employees are more productive and committed to providing your customers and vendors with a consistent, quality experience. With unemployment at historic lows, keeping employees engaged and happy is also a critical retention strategy.

New Year’s resolutions are not just about making changes in the first few weeks of the year. The most effective business goals are designed to generate improvements over the course of the next 12 months, and progress needs to be monitored, measured, and evaluated on a regular basis. Reexamining your objectives monthly or quarterly will help you and your team stay on track and allow you to shift priorities and adjust where necessary to keep your business growing.

Working Capital Financing is a few clicks away.

Apply online and get started today >

Summit Financial Resources specializes in working capital financing for small to medium-sized businesses that need increased cash flow. We provide working capital financing through invoice factoring, asset-based lending, inventory lending, and equipment financing.