Stewardship in bad times is important to survive. Making wise decisions can keep the doors open and payroll funded.
But what about in good times?
As we approach the end of another calendar year many small businesses have had stellar years. I understand not wanting to have your hard earned profits whittled away by taxes.
I know that feeling of relief when you have money in the bank and don’t have to check the balance everyday to make sure everything is covered.
But now is not the time to take a breather and get wasteful. It is also not the time to pull all the money out and go on that personal spending spree.
Good stewardship is paramount in good times as much as any other time. With many small businesses struggling to make it, those fortunate enough to have a good year have the opportunity to make a difference with these resources. Here are some ideas:
- Sit down with your team and discuss what tools or resources will help them to continue this year’s performance next year. Are there sales tools or marketing that could help? Will a new tracking software make their jobs easier? What can we invest in that will help us to continue our growth and performance?
- Look at your organizational chart. We struggle to keep all of the plates spinning as an entrepreneur. We all do several different jobs and work long hours. Now is the time to think about what position would provide the most relief in the company and, again, position your business for future growth. Building a strong team is a foundation for business success. We don’t get many opportunities to actually plan in advance and add a needed resource comfortably. This is a good use of extra funds if you have needed positions that will help you continue to grow.
- Improving skills in your team is a two fold benefit. Not only do you enhance your company’s skill set, but you provide a benefit to your employees by investing in their professional development. Although they may not have time to attend training or coaching before the end of the year, many times you can sign-up and pay for the training now. Or you may even be able to purchase training materials for your organization.
- Marketing can be an excellent growth tool. Unfortunately, many small business owners fall prey to persuasive marketing or advertising agencies and are sold on media that doesn’t match their needs. This you have to be careful of, however, there are many marketing tools and resources that can help you grow. When you talk to the marketing firm of your choice always ask how their proposal will grow your business in some measurable way. Will that new website attract new customers and how? Do I really need five years worth of business cards and brochures? Isn’t it likely something will change before I use them all? What can you provide that I can measure in increased customers or revenue growth? Don’t let them bully you. Make them justify how their solutions will help you grow.
- Review future needs that were planned in the coming year. If you were going to buy “it” anyway because “it” happens to be a real need, moving the cost into the current year to reduce your tax exposure is a wise decision. You may be able to hold off until next year, but this has now become a financial decision. How can you best use your funds to manage the overall success and cash flow of your business?
I am writing about this because it is what I have been thinking about as a small business owner. I hired on a new employee a month ago. (She is great. If you need anything her name is Kim!) Things are going well. How can I sustain the work and provide the quality and consistency I am committed to? The help has been amazing and I believe to be an excellent investment in the growth of our business.
I also began several marketing projects that will help position us for continued growth in the new year. Just like most small businesses, I have done the roller coaster marketing strategy. (If you can call it a strategy.) It is more like waiting until I slow down to worry about marketing. I tell client’s this will lead to a self-fulfilling prophesy. You will definitely slow down if you do not invest in the resources to maintain and sustain higher business levels.
I also have invested in new and updated software tools to support my business. We have upgraded to the new 2012 Quickbooks, added the full 37 signals productivity suite, and upgraded the Logos Bible Software. All of these tools help improve productivity, decision-making, and quality of the work we do.
As we end 2011, what can you invest in for your company to continue the trend of strong performance and to protect the health of your business?