A new year brings new opportunities and a fresh slate.
For small business owners, it also brings the chance to dive into new opportunities and projects to expand your business.
Long-term success and growth come from setting goals and strategic plans for the year ahead. Here are four steps to getting your finances in order for 2024:
Review and Reflect on Year-End Financial Reports
The end of the year can be a whirlwind of last-minute sales, expenses, and reports — all on top of your other responsibilities. At the beginning of the year, take time to decompress and review your year-end financial reports, including income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements. Check the totals for the year and break them down by month and quarter. Analyze the reports and track your KPIs.
Then, match the numbers with what was happening in your business. Did you try a new marketing campaign one month that led to higher sales? Did you switch software or hire a new employee? What impact did that have on your expenses and revenue? Dig deeper than just the numbers themselves to tell the financial story of your business in 2023.
Having a complete picture of what happened to your books — good and bad — and why can help you prepare for 2024 and set realistic goals and resolutions. Use your analysis and new insights to create yearly performance, business, and financial plans.
Track Market Trends and Changes
Just like your business is continually growing and evolving, so is the overall market. You can’t simply copy and paste your goals and financial plans from 2023 or other years and expect to automatically be successful in 2024. Do your research to know the market and what’s trending upwards or downwards. Use that information to prepare your financial year accordingly.
For example, you may see your industry heading toward automation and AI. You can use that information to look for opportunities to streamline your services and automate some data gathering or order fulfillment. Pay attention to what customers want regarding products, services, and how they want to interact with your brand. Look at trend forecasts, talk to industry experts, and don’t be afraid to ask questions of others in the industry to get a complete and accurate view of what’s happening.
Set Measurable, Achievable Goals for Your Business
After reflecting and researching, it’s time to dig in and create measurable, specific, and achievable goals. These goals will help determine where you take your business in 2024, so aim for both long-term and short-term (monthly or quarterly) goals. What do you want to achieve? Where do you want to be by the end of the year and beyond? How can your business grow and evolve in 2024? These questions can fuel your goals. But remember to make them measurable and achievable so you can track your progress.
As you set goals, consider what you’ve done in the past and where you’d like to move. Your goals may include new strategies and action plans. Take advantage of the many SMB resources available to you to plan a successful year. The U.S. Small Business Administration and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce both offer free resources for small business owners, including webinars, online and in-person training, mentoring, and libraries of video content to grow your business and plan for the future.
Other paid tools, including Monday.com and QuickBooks, offer financial tools tailored to small businesses that simplify the accounting and financial process and help you see where you’ve been and where your business can go.
Create a Business Roadmap
You’re likely heading into the new year with a long list of what you want to accomplish this year. But if you spread your focus too far, you may lose the ability to focus on what matters most. As you set financial resolutions, it’s about quality more than quantity — focus on the most crucial goals that will get your business where you want it to be.
Prioritize your to-do list with the most crucial plans first, and use that list to create a business roadmap. Your priorities will impact your resolutions, strategies, KPIs, and quarterly plans. A business roadmap needs to be flexible, so you have the agility to respond to market trends, but it can also guide you through the year and help you know what you want to achieve and the steps it will take to get there.
Remember, lasting success doesn’t happen overnight; it requires consistent, concentrated effort. Focus on what will move the needle to help you get where you want your business to be. The success of your small business comes down to your ability and willingness to plan accordingly and set goals. Taking time to reflect, research, and plan for the future can put you on the right plan for growth and success in 2024.
Disclaimer: Fundbox and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal, and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction.