SBA Feature Story - Seven small business resolutions for 2015

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SBA Region VIII Office

 Seven key small business resolutions for 2015

By Matt Varilek, SBA’s Region VIII Administrator

Like personal resolutions to eat healthy or get fit, New Year’s resolutions for small business owners can lead to increased sales and greater profitability. The Small Business Administration (SBA) has resources to help entrepreneurs to put their resolutions into action. A 2014 Constant Contact, Inc. survey showed 53 percent of small business owners make New Year’s resolutions to boost their businesses. Consider the following ideas from our network of small business experts for your own list of resolutions in 2015: 

1. Give your business plan a facelift.  Business plans are a useful tool for anticipating future scenarios and how your business will respond.  But even the finest forecasters get some predictions wrong. Consider your plan a living document and review it regularly.  Update the plan to reflect how the business has evolved in terms of technology, product diversification, marketing strategies, and owner experience. 

2. Understand the Affordable Health Care Act (ACA). Small firms with fewer than 50 employees are not required by the ACA to provide health insurance to their employees.  That’s 96 percent of all businesses.  However those that voluntarily choose to provide coverage have the options of doing so through each state’s small-business health insurance marketplace.  Starting January 1, 2015, employers with 100 or more full-time employees now have specific Employer Shared Responsibility Rule (ESRR) requirements. Employers with 50-99 full-time equivalent employees will have until 2016 before the ESRR applies.

3. Get a financial check-up. Business owners should review their company’s profit and loss statements, balance sheet, and other relevant financial indicators on a regular basis.  For many, this is second nature.  But for some, a review of the company’s financial health is long overdue.  Like driving without a dashboard, failure to study your financials can lead to missed opportunities or more serious problems. 

4. Take a hard look at what worked and what didn’t. Did you buy too much of the wrong inventory?  Did you make hiring decisions that adversely affected the business?  Are you working too many hours at the business and need to hire more help? Are you putting too many hours into the business and neglecting your family?  Should you create a new marketing strategy or revamp last year’s model?  It’s easier said than done, but confronting these tough questions in an honest way can lead to continuous improvement and great success in the future.

5. Find a mentor that you trust. Mentors can provide a fresh perspective on tough issues like the ones mentioned above.  They can also provide business owners with a wide range of advice including business strategies, financial counseling, and commons sense solutions to everyday problems. They provide someone you can discuss sensitive issues with in confidence. Consider using a SCORE or Small Business Development Center (SBDC) counselor to fill this role.  They’re experienced.  They’re confidential.   And in most cases, they’re free. 

6. Embrace online sales and social media.  A 2013 study by Forrester Research Inc. showed that by 2017 nearly 60 percent of all U.S. retail sales will involve the web.  This trend only seems to be accelerating.  Successful small firms maintain a web presence where customers can purchase items online, or find a retail location.  The cost of creating a web presence is far out-weighed by the potential new customers ready to buy your products or services on-line, often from markets well outside your geographic home. Let 2015 be the year you create or refresh your business’ web presence.

7. Embrace innovation and creativity. Differentiate your small business from the competition by embracing innovation and creativity every day. Feature the products that can’t be found at the local mega mall.  Create the kind of unique customer experience that serves as a destination for shoppers not content with pointing and clicking in solitude. 

For more information on how SBA can help your business keep its New Year’s resolutions, visit www.sba.gov/viii or call your local SBA district office. 

 

Matt Varilek

Matt Varilek serves as the SBA’s Region VIII Administrator and is based in Denver. He oversees the agency’s programs and services in Colorado, Montana, Utah, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming.