New Year’s resolutions get a lot of flak. Although it can be an effective strategy for the 1/3 of folks who stick with them, for the rest of us, it may be more motivating to approach them as easily attainable “goals” if we break them down and focus on the impact the end result can bring. In thinking about the theme of “Back to Basics”, these are some of the most basic to start your new year off:
Set time aside to review your monthly financial reports – One of the benefits of partnering with Stride is that your team has in-depth knowledge of the ins and outs of your business. A month-end review call is an important time to do a deeper dive into what is driving revenue, draining cash, or that one line item you need to know more about. Your Client Success Manager (CSM) has done a review of your reports, and may have insight into trends, or pose questions that may guide key decision making. The month-end review call is also a good time to sync up on any challenges or changes your business may be experiencing so we can keep an eye on certain events, or offer advice and further assistance.
Put your goals in writing and use them to plan for your future. Once you’ve determined your key goals in the new year, devise an action plan for each by breaking them down into smaller realistic goals. Establish timelines and delegate who will help you achieve these. At Stride, we use a tool called Asana to plan, coordinate, organize and execute. As a client, you have access to your own client Asana board where we share key dates, action items, meeting agendas, notes, and more. Your CSM can provide an overview if you are not familiar with this tool, together we can get you started in planning your year.
Plan ahead for major expenses, seasonal impacts, taxes, and unknowns. Although our financial reviews focus on past periods, we are equally as interested in your future. This is where taking your goals and creating a budget will put you on a stronger path to success. Creating a budget does not have to be a long, formal process of analysis paralysis. A combination of past performance, planning for what you know, and trying to anticipate what some unknowns may be is a good place to start. It is never too late to create a budget, at most it Is a worthwhile exercise that takes a few hours, and you can always adjust as needed. This is another tool your CSM can advise you on and utilize to get you closer to achieving your goals.
Gut check your assumptions. Ask any business owner how they expect to do in the next quarter, six months, or year, and they can give you their gut assumption. That assumption is one part past performance, one part future assumptions and other parts fear or hope. Why not write them down as you prepare your budget? Most small business owners will tell you they have a “pretty good idea” of a general budget in their head. Once you have your budget and assumptions used to build your budget in place, you can measure how Intune you are to your assumptions. This can be done simply by variance analysis (already included in your monthly financial review), or on deeper levels with metrics, KPI’s or other tools. Do you want to know which product is contributing to a revenue impact, but don’t track it on a product level on your P&L? Or when is the optimal time to hire new staff? At this point, you have your basic foundation in place and are ready to take your business to the next level. With Stride’s CFO Advisory Services, we can take your vision and translate that into actionable items to ensure you get there and achieve your goals.
Plan for a vacation. Everyone needs downtime to relax, reflect and recharge. Planning time off in advance allows you to choose times that are advantageous to you and everyone else involved. It will allow you to have a backup plan in place for your absence, minimize staffing concerns at peak vacation times, and relax a bit more knowing things are under control. Stride will still have your AP, AR, Payroll, and Month End Close under control, and will happily make a recommendation on where you could plan your next vacation.
Whether you need help in understanding what is impacting last month’s revenue, establishing goals, or scaling your business to the next level, Stride can advise you at each step on your path.
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