The dawn of a New Year is a perfect time to re-examine any bad habits that are detracting from the growth of your small or medium size business or from your personal development if you work for someone else.
Our work at Piligrim Accounting as an in-person and on-line accounting firm gives us a unique insight into what most people and businesses could do to take their game to the next level.
Here are five realistic resolutions for real-life business owners and individuals who want to see themselves in a more comfortable and stable position at the end of 2019 than they are right now:
Resolution #1: I will charge what my skill and services are worth.
Granted, we know you can’t hike your prices substantially all at once without risking a dramatic drop in business, but you can find ways to introduce reasonable rate hikes.
Many people find it easier to build a new rate card and start with new clients, grandfathering their current clients for a little while. Psychologically, the dawn of a new calendar year is a time when reasonable increases don’t usually make a big wave, so keep that factor in mind if you are starting to slip behind.
If your business is small and your work out of your own home, there is a tendency to think that your reduced overhead makes it okay to charge considerably less than the going rate for the services you offer.
If you get caught up in that kind of reasoning, ask yourself if the people under a rented roof are any more qualified than you. Can they provide their customers with any better service than you do?
Resolve to charge what you are worth in 2019. A business that is not sustainable because of your kind heart or timidity to raise your rates will not serve you or your clients well in the long term. An individual who works for less than they are worth gets caught in a perpetual rut that it is difficult to climb out of.
Resolution #2: I will get help when I need it and I will recognize when that is.
When you start your business and secure a few clients, it feels good to see your calendar fill up and your days feel busy. But there comes a point in any small business where you either get help and grow, or you settle for what is essentially self-employment, limited by yourself and what you are able to do each day.
We are not diminishing self-employment. If you are at a later stage of your career, that may work well for you. But if you are just getting started and hope your business will be sustainable for a long period of time, look at adding a part-time staffer to do some of your work so you can grow.
When you do get help, teach yourself how to have the confidence in others to delegate work to them. For many small business owners, that is one of the most difficult tasks to learn.
Resolution #3: I will find time to work on my own business and skills.
Days are quickly filled up with work for your clients and you make every effort to look after their businesses for them. If you work for others, all your best energy is directed to helping them succeed.
In this process, you do not leave time to look after your own interests, skills and business.
You work “in” your business, as the saying goes, but not “on” your business, and that will stifle your growth as surely as anything.
Ideally, you should be able to spend one afternoon a week working solely on your own business: sending out letters and proposals to draw in new clients, following-up on leads, keeping your files up to date and anticipating trends and changes that will impact your work.
Additionally, you need time periodically to take courses or attend conferences that will either give you learning and/or networking opportunities.
Resolve in the New Year to find some reasonable time period every week that you dedicate on looking after your own business. Schedule it into your agenda and view it as a priority.
Resolution #4: I will manage my cash flow smoothly and efficiently.
If you live like a roller coaster ride, sometimes flush with funds and other times worried about how to pay your bills, it is time to implement an effective cash flow strategy for your company or yourself that keeps you on an even keel all year long.
Draw up a realistic budget, consider how you are being paid and the duration of time between invoicing and receiving your money, and take steps to manage your cash flow more effectively this year.
Signs that you are not handling your cash-flow effectively are that you must delay paying your bills because your client’s aren’t paying theirs, you have no money left to invest back into your business to make it more productive or efficient, and you make bad business decisions based on desperation.
Even out that roller coaster ride this year by taking steps to ensure your budget is realistic and your cash flow is carefully considered.
Resolution #5: I will communicate more effectively.
Difficulties in small businesses arise when we stumble in communicating either with our clients or our staff. Difficulties in individual workplaces and life in general also stem from not clearly explaining what we mean.
In business, this means we may forget to clarify exactly what is included in our packages, what entails extra fees and other important details. We learn by experience how important it is to be clear and precise.
In life, it means we forget to clearly communicate our needs and understanding of certain arrangements or contracts. Seek clear understanding for all your arrangements both in the workplace and in your personal life.
Certified professional bookkeeper and certified tax specialist Elena Ivanova is managing director of Piligrim Accounting Inc., a national accounting and tax preparation service based in Richmond Hill, Ont. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.