Prepare Your Business for 2020: What You Can Do to Succeed
Goodbye 2019 and hello 2020. The holiday season has passed and it’s the start of a new year. The first several days of 2020 will help propel your small business into 2020 and on through the decade. It’s the perfect time to clean up your business processes, set a game plan for next year, and set goals that will help you become a successful business or propel your company to even greater heights. At the start of a new year, it’s tempting to want to forget about the previous year and start with a clean slate, but the most successful businesses analyze what went well, what didn’t go so well, and how they can learn from the past to engage in better goal setting and execution in the upcoming year.
Am I Starting the New Year The Right Way?
We’ve compiled a checklist of action items you can use to prepare your business for 2020 to make sure you’re on track with your business goals as you progress through the new year. Ranging from taxes, inventory, risks, strategies, connections, employees, and most importantly yourself, there are a wide variety of things you should check off and review this time of year.
This isn’t a cliche end of the year review or a set of new year’s resolutions. These are questions, checkpoints, and reviews you can conduct at any time of the year with your business to run a quick health check and ensure long-lasting business success.
Take a Hard Look at Your Own Business
Let’s start with a 360 high-level view. First in the list to prepare your business for 2020, you need to evaluate what worked and didn’t work the past year. You should do this in every division within your company, but we’ll use marketing as an example. Within marketing, there is social media, SEO, email, and much more. Each marketing channel should be assessed objectively based on measurable KPI’s you set for 2019. If you didn’t set KPI’s for 2019, now is the best time to do so for 2020.
What’s a KPI? KPI stands for key performance indicators that are quantifiable measurements used to measure company success. KPIs can be financial (i.e. profit from advertising) or they can be more anecdotal (i.e. employee retention %).
There are two scenarios any time you look at past business objectives: successful or unsuccessful. Sure, there are nuances and exceptions, but let’s keep it simple. In the case you look back at 2019 SEO and you hit all of your KPIs, the question becomes how can you take all of the hard work put in last year and leverage that to further your success in 2020. In the case you didn’t hit your SEO KPIs, the question becomes what went wrong? Did you spend a lot of time on certain efforts that just didn’t pan out? Is it a resources issue? Do you have a personnel issue? Dig in and find what wrong and where.
Arguably the most important section, take a good look at what 2019 looked like for you financially. As small business owners, cash flow is something that needs to be monitored constantly, and mismanagement can be costly. A few questions to ask yourself and actionable tasks:
- Did 2019 revenue and expenses match what was projected? If not, how far were they off and what caused them to be? Note, if you’re not forecasting revenue and expenses for each year, you should.
- What do you expect 2020 revenue and expenses to look like? What do they look like if you hire another salesperson and hit increased revenue goals?
- Clean up your books
- Look at spending reports to see if you can minimize anything
Internal Product and Service Audits
Is your product offering up to par? How does it compare to competitors? One way to see if your product is performing well is analyzing review data from the year. Averaging 4.7 stars? You’re probably doing great. Averaging 3.5? Maybe you need to rethink your product design and/or quality.
What about your customer service? Assess whether or not your customer service team is properly handling inbound queries from customers. You can measure customer service success against KPIs like time from contact to response, average time to resolution, and sending out customer satisfaction surveys automatically after every customer contact.
Once you’re done with the above audits, now you can plan and strategize how you’re going to fix or continue to improve upon your product and service offerings.
Technology Audit and Clean-Up
Technology can be a great asset for any business, but it can also be overwhelming and become a burden if not properly implemented and managed.
From an audit standpoint, take a good hard look at the current technologies your business is using, and try and match them to specific business KPIs you have. If a piece of technology isn’t helping any division within your business reach their goals, then maybe it’s just not necessary and you can cut some overhead cost.
Technology can get messy if not properly kept up with. If you’ve ever used a task management software like Asana or Trello, you know what I mean. Now is the perfect time to go through your technology stacks (CRMs are a clean-up candidate as well) and make sure that you’re properly organized and setup to succeed with your technology in the new year.
A company’s success is dependent on its employees, so it’s important that as a small business owner you take the time to check in with your personnel and make sure they’re happy with their current position, the initiatives that they are working on, and the direction of the company.
But, it goes both ways. Take a look at the performance of each and every one of your employees over the course of the last year, and decide whether or not everyone is adding value for the business. Setting KPIs for your employees can be helpful to measure success.
Explore Emerging Trends and Marketing Efforts
Take a step back from analyzing your own business and look outwards. Are there any trends you can pick up on that your business should be capitalizing on? What about new marketing efforts you can implement to grow your business in the new year?
You can think of this as a brainstorming session. It can be helpful to open the floor to everyone in the company, to promote inclusivity and also generate great ideas. You never know who might be onto something big for your business.
The end of the year and moving into the coming year is the perfect time to analyze your business and re-assess if you’re tracking to where you want to be. Ultimately, having KPIs in place for your departments, divisions, and employees can help you objectively measure results and identify areas that need improvement or glaring weaknesses. Analyze, assess, and refine as you move into 2020. Here’s to a decade of growth and success for you and your business.