Crunching numbers isn’t glamorous, but planning your business budget for the year ahead is essential if you want to succeed in 2019. By identifying the streams of income and operating expenses that make up your annual budget, you can save money and draft a strategy for a lucrative year in business. The budgetary balancing act you’ve grown accustomed to is so 2018; ask yourself the following questions as you gear up for a more successful year.
What Are Your Self-Employed Business Goals for 2019?
If you’re like the majority of goal setters, you’ve probably thought long and hard about where you’d like to see your self-employed business go in the new year. You may have already written a list of business resolutions and worked backward, identifying smaller goals that must be accomplished before each of your larger ones to turn the list of goals into an actionable plan.
Reaching annual goals is easier when you can identify your motivation for each objective. Asking yourself why you want to accomplish specific business goals helps prepare a firm foundation for a truly successful year.
Revisit Your Business Plan
Start by revisiting the objectives you set out in your original business plan. Ask yourself whether the core mission and goals of your business have shifted or expanded to include new ones in the last year. Identify any specific revisions you’d like to implement in your business plan for the coming year.
Pay Attention to the Small Details
Once you’ve taken a close look at the big picture, turn your attention to the smaller details. Perhaps you’ve identified a new target customer base that could potentially expand your income potential. Or maybe some of your products or service offerings have become obsolete and need to be replaced. Think about how you can broaden your clientele or expand your services while keeping the original core objectives of your business in mind. With a focused drive, your ambitions can come to fruition.
Hit the Accounting Books
As you made your list of goals, you probably thought about things such as your operating expenses and past years’ revenues. With those numbers in front of you, ask yourself the following questions:
- What are potential future expenses that are not part of your budget already?
- What’s your most significant revenue stream?
- What are your most substantial expenses currently?
Healthy cash flow is a necessity when you’re looking to grow your business. Expanding your business is an excellent idea on paper — but the reality is much complicated and involves investments such as a dedicated working space, hiring new employees, and bringing your A-game to the marketing table. Growing your business might be significantly more difficult if you don’t have a plan that meshes with your current budget.
Your biggest source of income may come from a single place, such as a business partnership or client who always buys your top-of-the-line merchandise. Bear in mind that there’s never any guarantee that a specific source of income continues indefinitely, but the best self-employed advice is to remain optimistic. While you have to consider the possibility of losing this A-list client, you can also remain positive and think about how to bring on another client of the same caliber. Ask yourself whether, should you lose your top client, you have a safety net so you don’t lose your company as a result. Imagining these scenarios, as well as how to avoid them, helps keep your business strong in the long term.
What Is Your Marketing Budget for 2019?
When spent correctly, your marketing dollars can offer a strong return on your investment. In other words, every dollar you spend toward marketing your business can put money right back in your pocket. Types of marketing you simply can’t overlook in 2019 are:
Search Engine Optimization
Some business owners tend to underestimate the value of search engine optimization in marketing. However, SEO is the most effective means of making people aware of your brand in the digital age. In a nutshell, SEO helps boost your website’s visibility on search engines by employing the keywords consumers use most often when shopping for your products or services. Look at your website with a fresh eye to determine whether SEO is really working for you. See where your business is ranked on major search engines. If it’s not consistently near the top of the list, consider hiring a freelancer to tweak your website design and craft some killer copy using effective keywords that can lead customers directly to your doorstep or homepage.
Even if your business is small, chances are that you don’t have a big chunk of time each day to dedicate to updating your social media. Canadians, and particularly millennials, are increasing their mobile phone usage, and Canadian millennials should be one of your target markets. You can reach this demographic through interesting social media content that you constantly refresh. If you don’t have time to give yourself a crash course in social media marketing, perhaps you have room in the budget to invest in training an existing employee to take on this critical responsibility.
Events With Well-Known Speakers
Events are attention-grabbers, especially when they include notable speakers. For your next event, reach out to trade influencers and people who are making waves with innovative methods for solving problems and creating success. When you invite others to rub elbows, you create an influx of potential clients.
Also consider whether you are making full use of free marketing opportunities such as networking and word-of-mouth advertising. Connect with other business owners in related fields, and ask them to send customers your way.
Where Can You Cut Costs and Save Money in 2019?
You probably have several hundreds of dollars going out each month for various items, such as self-employed business taxes and labour hours, some of which may be higher than you originally anticipated. Your expenses might seem overwhelming, and you might think you can’t do without any of your current expenditures. Your goal isn’t to eliminate these costs entirely. However, there are aspects of your business you can change up so they’re not quite as expensive. Be open to alternatives that provide the same functions while being much friendlier with your bottom line.
For example, if your rent or utility bill keeps going up, consider decreasing your overhead costs by changing from a physical storefront to an online e-commerce portal. Or if you’re really up for a change, think about ditching your office in favor of working from home. Each of these options carries some temporary inconveniences, including an initial loss of productivity and revenue. It’s also possible that some of your current customers may not follow you to your new virtual or physical location. And moving requires updating all your current marketing materials to incorporate your new address, which incurs some expense. Weigh these short-term consequences against the potential benefits of cutting down on your expenses in the long run. If you decide to bite the bullet and make a major change to help lower costs, be prepared for some initial growing pains as you build a new clientele and settle into your new routine.
How Should You Reinvest in Your Business in 2019?
Making improvements to your business shouldn’t be viewed as an added expense, but rather as an essential reinvestment in the future of your company. What aspects of your company could use some minor or major revamping? Should you improve upon your current infrastructure (physical or otherwise) by making the switch to business online payroll or concentrate on improving customer service?
And what about your team? You’re no doubt pleased with your staff, and they’re probably happy to be your employees. Continue to keep morale high with mutual respect and an ongoing commitment to helping your team grow in the workplace and on a personal level. The personalized attention you give each employee bolsters morale and creativity, adding to the company’s revenues. Consider what your current team does well and what they can improve upon, then help them achieve the goals you set. As your company begins to grow, you may decide to introduce benefits such as extended health care and retirement packages to help improve employee retention.
Remember, your company is only as good as your weakest team member, so everyone should be up to date on business best practices and have a strong working knowledge of your products or services. Continuing education and updated training not only help your employees perform better, but also bolster your company for growth.
When you acquire new business, consider investing in a project manager to take some pressure off your senior management and other staffers. If you can’t afford to add new full-time employees as you expand, thinking about whether you can outsource some tasks to a reliable pool of freelancers is a smart move. Payroll and marketing are often prime areas for outsourcing. Employing freelancers on an as-needed basis can eliminate some of the expense associated with hiring new permanent workers while allowing you to tap into professional expertise in areas outside of the realm of your current workforce.
The most popular way to reinvest in your business is by making improvements. Infrastructure additions, streamlining the manufacturing process, building a client support model, and doubling down on your current marketing strategies can all benefit your overall bottom line in 2019. These investments not only help lower some of your long-term expenses, but they can also grow your income over time, granting you, even more, operating capital to reinvest again.
No matter where you’re at financially, your business’s growth can pose both challenges and exciting rewards. By planning and preparing ahead of time, you can be ready to handle whatever 2019 throws your way. Always know exactly where your business stands. Make smarter business decisions now.