THE BLOG
09/01/2014 11:27 am ET Updated Nov 01, 2014

Time to Start Planning for 2015 in Your Small Business

2014-09-01-TimetoStartPlanningfor2015inYourSmallBusiness.jpgAs the last days of summer wind down, the kids are headed back to school and the nights are getting cooler. This is the time to begin laying out your approach to a successful first quarter of 2015. Don't be like many small business owners and get caught by surprise - thinking ahead and coming up with a clear direction for your small business in the new year will help you focus on execution when the calendar flips to January 1st.

Here are five tips to start planning for 2015 in your small business:

1. Develop Your Business Goals
Once you've solidified where the opportunities are in your market, quantify what it will look like for your small business in terms of your sales goals. Broad, nonspecific goals rarely produce the kind of results you want. Focus instead on 30-day sales goals, which means you can identify your weekly sales goals. Putting numbers on your business goals gives you a well-defined metric to reach for, and a way to design your marketing tactics to achieve your sales goals. Given that you're just working on Q1, decide what specific goals you want to achieve during those three months of the new year.

2. Do a SWOT Analysis
Conducting a regular SWOT analysis is one of the best ways to see the big picture and home in on specific areas of your business to improve. Things in your business change constantly. What might have worked a year ago could work against you in the future.

Use this analysis to get a clear idea of where you've grown and where you've fallen short. You can also discover new areas where you might find more opportunities to make more money and grow.

3. Start Delegating
Savvy small business owners know how impossible it is to tackle everything alone. Once you have a clear direction in mind of where you want to go in Q1, hand some stuff off to experts who can help. Whether you pass off your blogging and SEO efforts to the marketing team or recruit the help of a CPA to develop your 2015 budget, delegating tasks frees you up to focus on what you do best.

4. Look at the Big Picture
Before you can plan for the future, you need a solid idea of where your business is currently and compare it to past growth and strategy. Figure out what your strong revenue months are and look for opportunities for repeat business. Seeing where you've grown, improved, or possibly digressed gives you an honest glimpse into what is happening in your small business. This helps you make better plans for the future.

5. Create an Action Plan
To keep everyone in your organization on the same page about how you will reach your new business goals for the quarter, create an action plan. This plan should incorporate every person involved in making these goals a reality. By defining each person's roles in working toward the goal, you create accountability. As the motivation from a new quarter and new business goal dies down, use this action plan to keep your team on target to dramatically increase your chances at success.

As a business owner, it's on you to complete certain tasks that aren't necessarily your favorites, but are essential to your small business success. Having a roadmap with targeted goals and actionable steps will keep you on track for a successful 2015.

This article was originally published under the title It's Time to Start Planning for Q1 in Your Small Business at www.succeedasyourownboss.com

Melinda F. Emerson, SmallBizLady  is America's #1 small business expert. She is an author, speaker and small business coach whose areas of expertise include small business start-up, business development and social media marketing. She writes a weekly column for the New York Times, publishes a resource blog,  www.succeedasyourownboss.com which is syndicated through the Huffington Post. She also hosts a weekly talk show on Twitter called #SmallBizChat for small business owners. As a brand, she reaches 1.5 million entrepreneurs a week on the internet. As CEO of Quintessence Multimedia, Melinda develops audio, video and written content to fulfill her mission to end small business failure. Forbes Magazine named Melinda Emerson one of the #1 Woman for Entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter. Melinda has been featured on MSNBC, Fox News, NBC Nightly News, and in Fortune, The Washington Post, USA TodayWall Street Journal and Black Enterprise. She is the bestselling author of "Become Your Own Boss in 12 months; A Month-by-Month Guide to a Business That Works," and the ebook How to Become a Social Media Ninja; 101 Ways to Dominate Your Competition Online.

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