Through meetings with mentors and courses this month, SCORE Austin will focus on helping its clients plan for the new year, which can propel a small business forward on a clear path. Before diving into the planning process, however, business owners should first consider what information and documents to gather to ensure success.

Here’s a checklist:

  1. Conduct a competitive analysis among similar businesses using their websites as a guide. What are they promoting? What is their brand positioning and messaging? How are you different?
  2. Review your firm’s products and/or services. What is selling well and what needs to be phased out or replaced?
  3. Is your pricing competitive? Do you cover all your costs, including staff time and overhead? Are you able to pay yourself a fair wage? What is your profit margin?
  4. Review your staffing. Do you have the appropriate support to grow the business this year? Do you need to hire employees or contractors? If so, write job descriptions for posting online and sharing with your network.
  5. Determine your overall budget. Review data on the past year’s revenue and expenses and give some thought to what might be different for this year. Should you be budgeting more in one or more areas, such as marketing, staffing, cost of goods sold or operations? After considering all the details, set a new budget for the business using your accounting software, Microsoft Excel or  Google Sheets.

Documenting your plans in writing is key, allowing you to refer to them throughout the year. I recommend doing so quarterly and as needed when opportunities arise.

About the Author

Sharon V. Munroe has more than 20 years’ experience in building and growing businesses through marketing and sales. Sharon conducts strategy audits, documenting them for her small business clients. Her work focuses on strategic marketing communications, market research, strategy and writing. A SCOREAustin client since 2010, she has founded or co‐founded four organizations. Her marketing strategy and research firm is NGrowthMode (pronounced In‐Growth‐Mode).

Be strategic about your planning in the new year