Busy is good. Most small business owners would rather things were too hectic than too slow. As the year quickly winds down, though, let your staff handle the busy-ness while you work on the business — where you are, what you’ve accomplished during 2014 and where you’re headed in 2015 and beyond.
Your Bottom Line
The quickest way to figure out where you are is to check your bottom line. Are you making money? Are profits better or worse than they were last year at this time? Are you meeting your expectations? If not, why not?
Your Business Plan
Change is inevitable. And businesses have a way of outgrowing their business plans. But if you don’t have a current plan, you don’t have a way of measuring your progress. So if you’ve been “off the road” without a plan for a while, it’s time to formalize a plan that reflects past growth and sets new goals for the next several years.
The more that you know about your competition, the better. Who are they? How are they different? How are they the same? Where do you overlap each other? Understanding their business model will help you to prepare strategically for possible changes in the marketplace.
Your Secret Weapon
Your work force is your secret weapon, especially if you’re in a competitive market. Dedicated, well-trained employees providing top-notch customer service can help put you out front of even the largest competitor. A rich, competitive benefits package will help you attract — and retain — a high-caliber work force. Health insurance and retirement plans are highly valued benefits. You can offer a variety of other benefits to suit your employees’ needs and your budget.
Do you have a formal succession plan? Are you training someone to take over? A well-trained successor could help in the successful and profitable transfer of your business. You can use life insurance to prefund all or part of the sale.