Many small business owners, even those not selling consumer goods, experience an increase in revenue during the holiday months. While some business owners are celebrating the now, smart entrepreneurs are focused forward into the next year. With the influx of capital from holiday sales you need to determine whether it is most advantageous for your business to save the money for a future downturn. or reinvest the profits in order to expand. If significant growth is one of your goals for 2015 the influx in capital from holiday sales may be just what you need to get position yourself for growth. In order to determine if you should spend the money, and on what I recommend first setting your 2015 goals and evaluating potential opportunities.
Establish Your Goals
In focusing forward, the first thing that you need to do is set your 2015 goals. Goals are the invisible force that can keep a business moving forward relentlessly. Without goals, a business would lose perspective and motivation. When setting goals I recommend the S.M.A.R.T.E.R method to goal setting.
SMARTER Method of Goal Setting
- S – Specific: A goal with a clear target gives you (and everyone on your team) clarity, direction, motivation and focus. The goal should be significant enough to have an impact on your business. The goal should either move you towards something you desire or away from something that isn’t working.
- M – Measurable: Tracking a goal that does not have a specific measure is challenging. Some goals have clear quantitative results (revenue growth, number of new customers, reducing expenses) and others are a little less clear. For those goals that are more qualitative you will need to identify a way to measure. For example, brand awareness is quantitative but you can measure based on social media followers, mentions by others on the web, and an increase in web traffic.
- A – Action Oriented: Your goal needs to be actionable; there need to be clearly defined next-steps in order to achieve the goal.
- R – Realistic & Relevant: The goals need to be relevant to your business growth. Sure it is a great goal to loose 10lbs but unless that directly impacts business growth it isn’t relevant. The goal also needs to be realistic based on current conditions. That doesn’t mean that you can’t aim high (in fact you should) but if you are in the midst of a recession, facing new competitors in your market, with no marketing budget 500% growth likely isn’t realistic.
- T – Time Bound: Assigning a deadline to a goal gives it priority and does not allow “tomorrow syndrome” to cause you not to achieve your goal. Set the timeframe to where it is uncomfortable but still realistic.
- E – Exciting & Enjoyable: Your goals need to be something that you are excited about. That motivation will help to drive you to not only achieve but exceed your goals.
- R – Resourced: You need to commit resources to achieve your goals. That could be time, money, external support etc. And in some cases committing resources may require sacrifice.
Evaluate the Opportunities
Growth is within your control and it is important that you choose the right growth opportunities. Begin by looking at what you are already doing; is there a way to repackage something you are already selling to serve a new niche? Can you change your processes to increase your profit? Is it possible to launch a new product or service to increase revenue? Your opportunity may be something as simple as hiring additional staff so that you can extend your hours to better serve your customer’s needs?
For some business owners these opportunities are clear, for others it may take some digging. Once you identify the right opportunity begin developing a plan of action and evaluating what investments need to be made. *Insert shameless plug here* If you are one of those people who struggle to identify opportunities in your business that will drive growth or are unsure how to develop a plan to capitalize on an opportunity I’m here to help.
And for those of you, like me, whose business slows during the holiday you can still develop your 2015 plans and begin implementing following your peak season or you may want to look to lenders like Kabbage for additional working capital to help cover the extra expenses of expansion (or coaching).
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