Professional Development

Start Your Business on the Right Foot in the New Year

A new calendar year means a new year for your business—time to reflect on the past 365 days and set new aspirations for 2018. What are your goals for the new year, and how will you accomplish them?

Where Do You See Yourself One Year From Now?
Close your eyes and look back on the past year. Are you content where you are now compared with one year ago? A year from now, do you want to continue on this path, or do you see yourself doing something new? Do you desire to change direction but aren’t sure how to get there? If you need a visual reminder of where you want to be in a year, create a vision board and hang it in a prominent location.

Establish Key Performance Indicators
How do you measure the success of your business? Perhaps it’s by the number of new clients, website hits, or services performed? Or perhaps it’s by a financial measure. Establishing key performance indicators (KPIs) is crucial for a business owner to know whether they’re heading in the right direction. Annually update KPIs in your business plan and go back regularly (eg, weekly, monthly, quarterly) to see how you’re measuring up to your goals. If you’re not reaching your KPIs, what can be done differently? If you are reaching your KPIs, what can you do to continue growing your business?

Set Benchmarks
Before establishing KPIs, you need to have a baseline. This is where benchmarking plays a role. KPIs are typically descriptive terms (eg, New Clients Served) while benchmarks quantify (eg, 10 new clients). Based on your goals, where are you today, and where would you like to be? Frequently assess your benchmarks. Establish lower benchmarks and determine what can be done differently if you’re not meeting your goals. If you are frequently surpassing your benchmarks, set bigger goals.

Financial Review
If you’re using your business checking account balance to measure financial status, then it’s time for a system. Whether using Excel, QuickBooks, a bookkeeper, or an accountant, have an organized approach to measuring finances. It’s essential to know how this year compared with the prior year, where you would like to see yourself financially in a year, and how you will get there. This also allows you to assess your biggest expenses and income generators while evaluating the cost of your time vs income earned. Services that are earning no to low income but taking significant time should be reevaluated.

Write Your Plan
Now that you have a vision and KPIs and benchmarks specified, it’s time to write a formal plan. The Notes app on your smartphone isn’t where business plans are kept. If you haven’t written a formal business plan yet, what are you waiting for? I highly recommend the Small Business Association’s template to get started. Check your plan quarterly and make updates accordingly.

Once you write out that plan, have a system in place through which you’ll track KPIs, finances, and overall performance compared with the initial plan. Most importantly, are you moving toward that vision?

Who Can Help You?
Remember that you don’t have to do this all on your own. This is where business coaches, bookkeepers, financial planners, interns, and others can play a role in your business. Don’t forget about that business care team you have in place.

What are your business goals for the upcoming year? Share in the comments to start creating accountability for yourself to meet those goals.

— Mandy Enright, MS, RDN, RYT, is the owner of Team with ME: Nutrition & Fitness Consulting, a communications and corporate wellness company based at the Jersey Shore. She’s the creator and author of the couples’ nutrition blog Nutrition Nuptials. A former advertising executive, Mandy combines her business expertise with nutrition knowledge to assist colleagues in building their businesses through branding, advertising, and relationship skills through her signature The BAR Method e-course. Learn more about Mandy at and follow on social media @mandyenrightRD.

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