It’s January, a brand new year has begun, and you’ve probably seen a myriad of “10 Best New Year’s Resolutions” article headlines fly by in your social media timeline. 

Yeah, us too.

That’s all well and fine, but abstract pie-in-the-sky resolutions don’t get businesses moving; clear plans do. 

So, for those of us who need a nudge to get moving, we’ve pulled together some of the more worthwhile points we found and have assembled a checklist for you. 

We know how much small business owners LOVE checklists, and now you’ve got actionable steps to make sure your year is off to a great start. 

What are you waiting for? Print this out and get started!

  1. Set your goals!

    What do you want to achieve this year? Dream big. Nothing is off the table. What you put your attention on, grows. So, break out the notebook and WRITE. IT. DOWN. Remember to create each goal using the SMART goals formula: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. 

  2. Map out your master plan for the year.

    Now that you’ve noted your goals, draw out your plan for the year. We’re all about efficiency in this new year, so keep it simple: write a list or create a table in Excel including the month, the overall goal or event you’d like to achieve, and any associated notes for the steps to make those goals happen will suffice. The important part is to get it out of your head onto paper. Then, break out your calendar and give yourself deadlines and back into them for each of your goals. Don’t let analysis paralysis get the best of you… be BOLD and commit. 

  3. Review the plan for the year with your team.

    No matter what you’ve got cooking, it’s important that you begin the year with an informed and engaged staff. Reopen lines of communication, make sure everyone’s back in “work mode” after the holiday break, and make sure you’re all on the same page with the projects ahead.

  4. Prepare a budget.

    This is scary for many small business owners, but it really doesn’t have to be. Start with ballpark figures. Estimate how many sales you expect to make, the costs associated with those sales, and don’t forget build yourself a buffer for the inevitable unexpected event. Put your budget into an Excel document, and refer to it as the year progresses. Knowing where you are versus where you planned to be can help you adjust your strategy accordingly. And knowing where you ARE relieves so much financial anxiety. This is your year of abundance and success… there’s no room for anxiety and worry. That was sooooo last year.

  5. Prepare your marketing plan (don’t forget about digital!).

    Look at your master plan and think about how you’ll get the word out about your business. Will you need printed items like flyers, brochures, newspaper or magazine ads, new signage, or to reserve booths at trade shows? Write it all down. Remember also that the world is increasingly digital these days and a business that doesn’t have at least a basic online presence may as well be invisible, so you have to have a plan for how your business shows up in the digital realm. You don’t have to be a guru to do this, either. Social media gives us all incredibly powerful communication at our fingertips. Think about your ideal customer and where they “hang out” online. You don’t have to be on every social platform… just the ones that are most used by your customers. The best kind of digital marketing is that which is authentic. So be REAL with your customers online. They’ll appreciate you for it. If you don’t have the time or interest in handling your digital marketing, there are tons of agencies and consultants who can help you get started and teach you, or you can offload it completely. The important thing is that you show up online, and do so in a way that is authentic to your business.

  6. Get your team excited and inspired about the year ahead.

    Be the source of their inspiration, because if you’re excited, they will be, too. What are YOU most looking forward to this year? Share it with your team. If there were any ideas proposed by staff that were left unexplored at the end of last year, revisit them. If you have a larger company with multiple departments, set up meetings with each department to hear about what they have planned for the year, hear about their goals, and ask for their input!

  7. Review your policies and procedures.

    While you’re fresh and inspired to plan, take a closer look at your operating policies and procedures. If something needs adjusting and there just wasn’t time at the end of the year, there’s no better time than now to implement those desired changes before you’re back to full steam.

  8. Hold an open house event.

    If you’re looking for new customers or hoping to engage with the community, host an event! Consider offering a discount on one of your most popular products; a limited time promo to get new feet through your door. Harness the power of your email list and social media channels to connect with your most loyal buyers and entice them to come in with a buy-one, get-one promo or a “bring a friend” promotion. Get creative!

  9. Not fun or interesting, but necessary: Make sure all your financial records from the previous year are in order.

    Nobody wants to be frantically searching for a lost receipt when tax time rolls around. If you’re not a typically organized person, set yourself up for success by instituting a new habit for tracking documents and receipts. For example,  consider designating ONE folder to hold your receipts each month. Each Friday, make sure ALL of that week’s receipts are gathered in that folder. When the month ends, file that folder away and start a new folder.

  10. Know what’s changing in the local and national business world.

    Rules, laws, taxes, and requirements change all the time. It’s important to stay up to date on all things business. Here are just a few things we found that you may want to check out: 

    1. New Jersey Employers: 2019 Brings New Notice and Posting Requirements. Check out the Employer Poster Packet:
    2. Tax Changes for 2019: and
    3. Dive into the State of NJ’s Business Portal’s vast resources for all things business in New Jersey, including the Business Action Center:

Of course, should you need assistance along the way, we’re always here to help! 

No matter your type of business or your question, give us a call at 609-771-2947 or schedule your free business counseling appointment online here: