Ready to make your new tax year (re)solution?

10 min read
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Adrienne Herbert

Leading wellness expert, international keynote speaker, host of the ‘Power Hour’ self-development podcast, and author. Adrienne delivers workshops for businesses around the world to motivate and empower their employees, and is also a brand advisor specialising in wellbeing, technology, and innovation.


New Year’s Resolutions are notoriously difficult to make and stick to. For small business owners, this is compounded by the economic environment and the uncertainty that brings - this year more than most.

That being said, setting business goals is critical to the health and success of your business – and they’re also vital for your own wellbeing and peace of mind as a small business owner.

So if January wasn’t the start to the year you imagined, it’s time to harness the New Tax Year as a clean slate. An opportunity to support your own health and wellbeing, and to focus on putting steps in place to support the future of your business. 

We have written this Guide so that you have a place to get started.

Planning for success

When it comes to ‘planning for success’, for me, it’s all about goal setting. Having a realistic and achievable goal to work towards will help you and your business to progress and succeed.

The best piece of advice that I can give when it comes to setting business goals is that less is more. Too often I see people create a long list of goals that they try to tackle all at the same time. This leads to feeling overwhelmed and frustrated. 

Wherever possible, try to limit your goals to three or less, ideally focusing on one goal at a time. If you can, give each of your goals its own season to make it your priority. This will allow you to give it all of the time, energy and attention that is required for success. 

Setting goals the right way

I have a trusted framework for goal-setting – five simple steps that work every time:

1. Get specific

Having a vague goal such as ‘I want a better work / life balance’ or ‘I want to earn more revenue’ isn’t going to inspire action. You have to outline the goal in much more detail and a great place to start is to understand your what, why & how. 

Once you can answer these questions you’ll have a crystal clear goal to work towards.

2. Set a deadline 

Setting achievable deadlines is absolutely critical! A goal without a defined end point or deadline is rarely going to be completed. Figure out how much time you’re going to need and then allow 10% extra time for life’s inevitable unpredictability. Now all you have to do is pick a date and circle it on the calendar. Having a bit of time pressure will ensure that you prioritise this goal. 

3. Share your goals

Accountability can accelerate your progress towards your goal. Try sharing your business goals with fellow business owners, or even friends – do you have someone you can connect with for regular check-ins? If so, reach out to them and let them know what you're working on and help keep each other on track. 

4. Assess and reflect

So you’ve been working hard for a few weeks or months; now it’s important to pause, assess and reflect on what is and isn’t working. Avoid the trap of going so fast you fail to notice your achievements, or worse - when you’re veering off track. This is a great time to use data to gain feedback on your goals - for example by checking in on your financial management software for real-time insights or forecasting. Schedule a few hours in your diary each month to review the figures and reflect on the necessary changes.

5. Ask for help

Don’t try to do everything yourself! Asking for help will not only speed up the process of achieving the goal, and make the entire journey more enjoyable too. Asking for help does not mean that you have failed, it means that you can identify gaps in your skill set where additional support will produce the best outcome. 

What do small businesses’ recognise as the most beneficial goals to set in the new tax year?

Powerful habits to help achieve 
your goals

Setting goals is only the start – to achieve success, you need to focus on putting beneficial habits in place to stick to these goals. Without the right habits, you will find it much harder to see the success you want for your business.

“Powerful habits”, as I call them, are small, repeatable actions that have a positive knock on effect over time. For example, the habit of walking for 30 minutes each day before lunch is powerful for me because it serves multiple purposes: it’s good for my mind as it helps me unplug and relax, and it’s good for my body to be outside and exercising everyday. 

Never underestimate the impact that small daily actions can have when it comes to achieving big goals.

What powerful habits can you create to help achieve your business goals in the New Tax Year? 

  • Dedicating 30 minutes each day to reading or listening to a podcast, to inspire you? 

  • Ensuring you take a 30 minute lunch break away from your desk, to focus on things outside of your business?

  • Spend just 5 minutes every morning looking through insights from your financial forecasting tools? 

Pick something you can repeat daily for 30 days. Trust me, the small things matter and the effect can be huge! 

80% Rule

Typically when we set goals, we have a binary approach to success and failure. But I have a rule that I call ‘80% for a pass’. It simply means that if I complete 80% or more of the goal then it qualifies as a pass. 

When was the last time you took a test or exam that required you to get 100% to pass? Why do we set such incredibly high standards for ourselves? Try applying the 80% rule next time you assess your progress – and you’ll end up celebrating a lot more.

Your own path to peace of mind

Rachel Harris MBA CMgr MCMI MAAT

Director at accountancy practice striveX, founder of @accountant_she, and director and trustee of the Association of Accounting Technicians

When you’re in employment, the New Tax Year might seem irrelevant - no surprise then that a third (33%) of the British public have no idea when it starts.

But as a small business owner and accountant, my life runs in tax years. Even major life events and plans fall in tax years! That’s why now is a great time to reset: learn from the mistakes of the last year, continue forging a path to success, and set goals to push you and your business.

Forge your own path

When setting business goals, many small business owners get tripped up by the numbers themselves. When driven by creativity, as opposed to numbers and data, many business owners can feel overwhelmed when it comes to managing their finances.

For these people, the best way to manage the stress and anxiety that can come from handling the numbers is simple: ignore the numbers (for now) and start in your comfort zone. 

If you are a creative person, then start with goals based on the parts of the business you feel most comfortable with. 

All of these are concrete business goals that can drive growth. Once they are set, you can think about how this translates to your revenue goals – therein setting big goals that will challenge and push you to success, without compromising your peace of mind.

Rely on your Accountant

No matter your skill or success level, there are people you can and should rely on to help you. Your accountant is top of the list. They can support you in countless ways, but the first is both as obvious and as essential as you’d expect: compliance.

When I speak to clients, so many equate financial processes with rising anxiety levels. Before they even say a number to me, they’ll tell me a feeling. Worry, fear, stress – the concern that stems from not knowing if your business is compliant or if you’re making the right decisions is an incredible burden for many business owners. But you don’t have to do this by yourself - the right accountant can take the weight right off your shoulders.

After all, peace of mind is a powerful business tool. 

Have you ever thought about whether your financial routine is supporting your wellbeing and mental health? A well-executed and prepared financial strategy, that you know ensures compliance and forecasting, can bring efficiency to your business and a sense of empowerment to you and your decision making. And this is another thing that your accountant can own on your behalf.

Having expert guidance and developing a trusted relationship can open your mind up to advancing the business in so many other ways. This is why when you look for an accountant, you should always shop around. The more they are invested in you and your goals, the more they can do for your business. Your goals and ambitions should be theirs too.

Build your community

As a business owner focused on growth, it can be easy to fall into the trap of seeing all other businesses as your competition. But not being threatened by others on a similar path is key to success.

Forging friendships with people who do the same thing and face the same challenges is one of the most overlooked steps to success. While social media is amazing for this, it’s not the only way. Your accountant’s customer base is a pool of information and camaraderie just waiting to be tapped into. Why not ask them to connect you with similar business owners?

Unforeseen challenges are all but guaranteed as a business owner (just think about the pandemic!) but imagine not having to go through them alone. Being able to chat with a group facing the same supply challenges or production issues, social media slowdowns, or staff woes?  Having a network of experts with an understanding of your business like no other – because it’s their business too – is priceless.

What about when “it all goes wrong”?

Adrienne says…

  • When mistakes happen, don't panic and don't berate yourself. Practice self-compassion and remember that everyone makes mistakes – even the smartest, most accomplished and successful people have made mistakes along the way. 

  • Consider how you would react if a friend or colleague made a mistake and told you about it. What would you say to them? I'm sure you'd be understanding and forgiving. Try this approach with yourself the next time you make a mistake.

Rachel says…

  • No one teaches you how to build a successful business, which means no one tells you what to do when it goes wrong either. Having no template to follow can be intimidating but it can also be freeing. Mistakes and failures happen – but how do you want to move forward?

  • There are plenty of technical decisions we can consider (personally I could talk about tax planning and advisory forever) but often what we really need to do as business owners is listen to our gut. Turn up the volume on instinct. Trust yourself to take the risky step if it feels right and recognise where lessons can be learnt when red flags were ignored.

So what now?

In this Guide we’ve outlined three key steps to planning for - and achieving - success in the New Tax Year.

  1. Set goals

  2. Powerful habits

  3. Rely on others

While being a small business owner can feel like a lonely endeavor at times, never forget that surrounding yourself with both expert and emotional support is not a weakness, but an excellent tool for success. 

The New Tax Year comes with many business responsibilities, from running year end reports to meeting HMRC payroll deadlines, but amid the chaos lies opportunity – a chance to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. 

With the steps outlined in this guide, these abstract ambitions can be turned into actionable goals that you may well achieve – or even exceed – by the time the 2024 new tax year comes around.


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