Tax Season is Here: How to Properly Get Your Finances in Order Before You File

The new year is also the start of tax season, so it’s time for your small business to get organized, file business expenses correctly, and ensure you are getting the correct refund. The details of how to accomplish this depend, in part, on how your business is organized: sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC or corporation. Yet the ways you go about calculating your taxable business income are pretty much the same however you’re organized. Here are the basic steps you’ll need to file your taxes properly.

Collect your business records: Hopefully, you have a computer and/or file drawer that is carefully organized to maintain all your raw paperwork, such as invoices, receipts, tax documents, bank statements, business diaries, etc. But we know that some folks are in the habit of piling all their papers into a heap on a desk. Well, now is the time to attack those records, get them sorted and entered onto a spreadsheet or accounting package. If you use software like Quicken or QuickBooks, you can go through your transactions, flag tax-related items and associate them with the appropriate IRS tax forms and lines. Once complete, you can then import the data into tax preparation software and it will automatically prefill many of your forms and schedules. 

Resurrect missing information: If you are somewhat disorganized, you may not have done a 100 percent perfect job of preserving your receipts. For example, you know you went on a business trip last year, but can’t seem to locate any of the receipts for travel, lodging, meals, taxis and so forth. Unless you paid for everything in cash, you can resurrect the missing information by combing through your credit card and bank statements. In fact, it’s a good idea to scour the entire 12 months of these statements to make sure you haven’t missed any deductible expenses. If you operate on a cash basis, remember that tax-related events occur when money is collected or disbursed. Accrual-based businesses must instead use the dates on which income is earned and expenses are incurred.

Find the correct forms: The IRS is pretty picky on which forms you use to file your taxes – they want you to use the right If you are a sole proprietor or run a one-person LLC, this means you’ll be getting intimate with Schedule C of Form 1040. A corporation must instead file Form 1120 separately from your personal return. Partnerships have separate forms as well. Your tax software can quickly ascertain which forms it will use to collect and report your information.

Make 401(k) payment: Your tax software will keep a running total of your refund or taxes due as you fill in the required data. If it turns out you owe the IRS money and you file on Schedule C, remember that you can fund your personal 401(k) up until the tax filing deadline and deduct the contribution from last year’s income. For 2016, that contribution can be as much as $59,000, depending on your age and income.

File on time: If you need an extension, remember that only buys you time for filing, not for paying. You still must pay what you think you owe by the April 15 deadline. Note that if you file Form 1120S as a Subchapter S corporation, the deadline is March 15. If your fiscal year doesn’t coincide with the calendar year, adjust your dates accordingly.

Should you find yourself short of cash at tax filing time, it’s good to know that IOU Financial can lend you up to $150,000 in as little as 24 hours.

How Redefining Your Core Values Can Benefit Your Business

As the new year momentum continues, it can be beneficial to review the core values of your business to see what you can amend and improve upon. Redefining your business core values to make them significant and actually mean something to your staff, partners, and customers can play a monumental role in the way your company is seen and how others relate to your brand.

A source for Harvard Business Review, who has helped companies refine their corporate values for over one decade, states that bland or meaningless values can damage the credibility of the company and alienate employees. To prevent this, revisit your current core values, find room for improvement, and take the following steps to redefine them.

Review Your Current Core Values

To start, re-familiarize yourself with the current corporate values you have established. Are they still relevant, achievable, and actually being implemented? For example, if one of the values is transparency, do your firm’s daily operations reflect that goal? Does information freely flow from top to bottom and in reverse? Are you open and honest with your investors, business partners, and clients about any issues, roadblocks or failures?

Remove any core values that are no longer important to your brand, don’t say anything about your corporate identity, or are simply impossible to achieve.

Survey Your Team

An organization is made up of the team members employed there; therefore, it can be beneficial to survey your employees to find out what their personal values are. If you able to align the personal beliefs and values of your staff with your business values, you can create a better corporate culture and overall working experience for your team.

Send out an email or online survey and ask employees to write down three to five personal values that matter to them. Review these answers and narrow down the top five to 10 choices based on popularity, significance, and relevance to your brand.

For example, if the majority of your staff value sustainability and the green movement, you may consider adding an eco-friendly component to your company’s philanthropic efforts. This can increase employee loyalty by supporting a cause that is important to them, and also start to promote your brand image with a new and important initiative.

Implement the Newly Established Core Values

Once you remove outdated and irrelevant values, and have worked with your staff to come up with meaningful new principles, you must create a plan to implement them. Core values must be ingrained in every decision and practice of the organization because they are the foundation of the brand’s identity.

If you added honest communication as a core value, for example, consider investing in training that would improve the communication skills of your managers and other staff members. Teaching them to better read nonverbal cues, actively listen, and understand difference in multicultural communication can lead to a more productive work environment.

Redefining your core corporate values can unite you with your clientele, partners, and employees by exposing the main principles that define your company and creating common goals for all staff to follow. Revisit your business’ core values while you’re still riding the momentum of New Year’s Resolutions and betterment initiatives!

What Your Small Business can Learn from Big Business in the New Year

The New Year offers the opportunity to analyze your current business practices and consider ways to improve the status quo. One strategy small business owners can utilize is looking at the latest big business trends, and evaluating which can help their companies succeed in 2017. To save you time in your search, we have found and included the most popular big business trends in this article.

Subject Matter Experts Replace Salespeople

While the goal of every business is to sell, business-to-business (B2B) companies can benefit from hiring subject matter experts (SMEs) to lead their salesforce. While a typical salesperson can be entry-level, providing price options, delivery times, and general product information, a subject matter expert is much more than that.

This is an experienced professional who is not only extremely knowledgeable in the product or service being sold, but the company’s goals, the competition and the overall industry. These professionals can provide a great value to consumers as they can make recommendations based on individual business needs and explain clearly the competitive advantage your offerings have over your competitors.

Videos Become Content Musts

It’s no longer enough to write product descriptions or compile written instructions, as the public is demanding video content. In fact, Cisco predicts that videos will make up 69 percent of all consumer internet traffic in 2017.

Hubspot confirms this prediction; their Consumer Behavior Survey found that 55 percent of users report watching an entire video, versus just 29 percent who would read a blog or 33 percent who would finish an interactive article.

What does this mean for small business owners? Invest into creating videos that highlight your products, services and overall company. This effort will pay off with higher sales; Forbes found that 65 percent of individuals who saw an online video then visited the company that posted it.

Social Media Takes Over Direct Email Campaigns

Forbes reports that collaboration tools, like Google Docs, are replacing internal communication between employees. Instead of sending and receiving dozens of emails when working on a project, employees make changes and post comments online, which means that B2B companies will have a harder time getting potential customers to read their email campaigns, as they will not check their inboxes as often.

How do you reach new and existing clients if not through email? Through social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Updating relevant photos, posts and news about your company will resonate better with your target audience rather than just blasting emails out at them.

If you choose to implement a big business idea for your small enterprise, such as adding a subject matter expert to your team, or creating a video, you may find it difficult to fund these endeavors. IOU Financial makes it our mission to help small business owners succeed and grow their businesses with small business loans. Click here to find out how you can secure a loan in under 24 hours!

DIY or Hire an Accountant?

Many owners of small business do their own accounting, usually with the help of a software package such as QuickBooks. This can make sense if you run a one- or few-person operation, are familiar with basic accounting, and have the time and inclination to take on the work yourself. For you DIYers out there, we recommend our IOU Financial Business Budget Smart Sheet to establish and track your budget.

For some, the question of hiring an accountant is confusing. Here are nine signs that indicate you should go ahead and hire one: 

  1. Knowledge: If you aren’t familiar with accounting terms, financial statements or report creation, you might need an accountant, at least in the beginning, to teach you what you need to know. If you don’t think you have the time to study the subject, you can keep the accountant on as long as needed.
  2. Taxes: Tax law is complicated, and one of the worst mistakes a business can make is to overpay its taxes. But even worse is to underpay and get caught, because then you’ll be hit by penalties and interest. Use an accountant if you don’t understand which deductions and tax credits to take, and/or if you don’t want to file your tax return on your own.
  3. Time: Let’s face it, bookkeeping can eat up your time and divert you from more important tasks. You need to operate the business, make staff decisions, market your offerings and troubleshoot problems. It shouldn’t be surprising that bookkeeping would be low on your priority list. You can hire a bookkeeper who knows how to do other accounting tasks – they usually charge less than full-blown accountants.
  4. Growth: Congratulations, your business is experiencing rapid growth. However, that also means you have more customers to attend to, more staff to hire, more vendors to negotiate with, and so forth. These activities require more paper pushing, number crunching and meeting time. With these management challenges, why not let an accountant lift some work off your shoulders?
  5. Profit margin: It’s nice when revenues grow, but less nice if profits don’t follow. The reason is invariably that your costs are too high. You could use an accountant with a sharp pencil to evaluate your overhead costs and suggest ways to save money. The savings could easily pay the accountant’s salary and hopefully a lot more.
  6. Investors: Have you grown to the point that you have investors? Well, they’re going to want to see professional reports that lay out the current financial condition of the business. Professional financial reports are also useful in recruiting new investors. An accountant can produce the reports you need and make them look professional – that will help keep investors happy.
  7. Expansion: If you are thinking about expanding into a new state, an accountant will help you meet the regional reporting requirements for payroll tax, income and sales. Expansion to a new state may include opening new locations, creating new distribution logistics and hiring new staff. An accountant can help you track the costs of these moves.
  8. Merger/acquisition: If you are looking to buy or sell your business, you’ll need an accountant to evaluate the entities involved and how to structure the transaction in order to minimize taxes.
  9. Audit: If the IRS has signaled that it wants to audit you, a CPA or other qualified accountant will be able to represent you to the IRS. This can help prevent you from making mistakes as well as lower your stress level. Generally, you don’t want to face the IRS on your own.

5 Ways Your Small Business Can Innovate like Big Business

The New Year can mean new goals, products, developments and much more for small and large businesses alike. For many businesses, growth leads back to innovation and how it is essential. Without staying current and developing creative approaches, many businesses find the New Year a not so happy one. This is where small businesses can learn from bigger businesses about not only sales tactics, but how to come up innovative ideas that could keep them a contender in their industry for years to come. Let’s look at 5 ways your business can innovate like big business.  

Expand your Network of Ideas

Many larger companies are starting to go outside their walls to find the next best thing, newest idea, or latest innovative approach to delivering a similar product or service. Consider expanding outside your walls to see what other smaller companies are working on and how a partnership or collaboration could be more beneficial than competing. Harness new innovations by looking beyond your business.

Create an Atmosphere of Innovation 

It sounds obvious but does your business really foster an environment that promotes innovation? Many big companies are creating innovative “labs” or “programs” often called Accelerator teams tasked with developing new ideas, testing them out, and pitching the top ideas to the company. Start thinking about ways you can start to create small teams to create a new product, develop new ideas for marketing, or even ways to modify an existing service to make them more profitable. Test it out and if it renders good initial outcomes take it to market.

Innovate from Within

On the flip side of looking outside-look within. Ask for new ideas, discuss concepts with current team members, and research ways you can provide solutions to any problems. Many big businesses are learning more from the day-to-day employees and current teams on projects about various ways to stay above the technology fold. Look inward towards the employees you have on payroll to suggest and implement new ideas.

Diversify What you Have

Look at current products and find ways to expand and diversify that service. Offer it on new platforms and add new features as part of existing ones. If you sell sunglasses find ways to repackage, make small modifications, expand the line currently sold, or add new colors to your line. It is no surprise that this works… some companies add Emoji options to their platforms and call it the “next best thing.”

Access to Training/Resources Digitally

Are you accessing the most current training and trends in your field? If you are, how much time and money does that cost? Many companies are utilizing technology platforms to attend training online, developing training programs for employees to view, and even using in-house technology to expand messages to others without having to pay for costly travel expenses and meal reimbursement. Have staff take online courses from the office they work within. Many new companies are embracing the technology they used to develop their product to learn about ways to enhance it. Use technology to your travel and budget advantage.

Big or small, businesses can all learn from one another. Learning ways to maximize the market and stay atop of the newest trends and consumer “wants lists” can help carry businesses longer and further. What ties the success together is not only the implementation of innovation, but continuing to to execute innovative ideas all year long. So whether big or small, implementing the above 5 methods in the workplace can make or break the coming New Year’s resolutions.

Extra Inventory From the Holidays? 6 Ways to Use it Now and Plan for Next Year’s Product

Holiday sales for any business can have a major impact on how the next year begins. Anticipating for the rush can sometimes leave small and big business with excess inventory and decisions to make with what to do with it now, as well as what to do next year to avoid over-ordering. By following some simple steps, businesses can learn what to do with their current inventory excess and how to better plan for the next season’s holiday rush.  Paying attention to 6 key ways to use extra inventory can keep any business in the black.

Save It: Sure sounds easy and simple. Almost too simple. But if your product or business is in a position to hang onto the inventory for the following year, or for another time to sell, then try and store it. It may be wise to save it for a rainy day.

  • Next Year: Try and use some inventory from this season for the next if the product can withstand a year of consumer shift. Order less of the “new” next year and mix in current with latest product on the shelves.

Sell as “Bundled” Package Deals: Consumers love great products and they love feeling like they are getting a steal of a deal. So, if you can, bundle some of the extra products into a “package” deal for a limited time offer. Combine items and lower the cost per item for a nice price point and great bundled offer. Consumers will benefit from a “deal” and you will move more than one product off the shelves.

  • Next Year: Start by selling bundled deals from “last season” next to the latest product at a slightly higher price. Consumers may not buy the new product but will quick to grab the “last season” product at a sale price.

Offer Discounts Next Year: Who doesn’t love a deal? So, why not offer a double win for a consumer? Offer your product with the added benefit of an automatic discount on ANY item or product the next season. Consumers like to know they will get something now and like even more the idea of added benefit the next year. If your product is one that consistently is updated, the offer alone will create some buzz for this and years to come.

  • Next Year: Consider how many products were sold with the current offer and the offer for the following year when you go to place new inventory orders. By looking at how many consumers purchased that deal this year, you can better assess how much you will need.

Create Promotions: Current products make great promotional items. Offer consumers a “free” product with purchase of another. If the product is one that can go well with other purchases or even be used as a promotional item at an event, raffle, give –away, and beyond, then the price you “eat” may be good for future business and getting your unused product in the market. Promotions are a solid way to grow your brand and product.

  • Next Year:  Factor in any promotional items you may use and reduce purchasing any promotional items this year. Use what you have and refrain from ordering any other marketing or promotional items if you have inventory on hand.

Slash Prices: Sales sell goods. If you can offer a great discount and cut prices on your products, it’s a great way to get buyers to take your extra inventory. Think about all the extra holiday lights, artificial trees, and snowman wrapping paper that go on sale the day after Christmas. Jump on the price slashing bandwagon and throw one heck of a holiday deal.

  • Next Year: Anticipate this tactic and use to your advantage. See what goes the fastest once you slash the prices and consider the profit made from this. If it’s a good solid money maker, ordering a little extra for this same reason next year may be a good move.

Inventory Liquidator: Not the first choice by any stretch, but if you find yourself in a major pickle then go with a liquidation service-but be cautious. Be aware of the risks to your product integrity and brand name. For some this is a last resort option but if you need to move a lot and reduce the bleeding this may be an option to consider.

  • Next Year: Run the numbers of this years liquidation and forecasted sales to see if you can withstand this same hit the following year. If it’s too close to call, order less and start to consider ideas for back order deals or offers.

Business owners know the ups and downs of planning for the holidays and strategic planning of ordering inventory. However when that inventory doesn’t sell in the current year, the worry and stress to move that product rises. By implementing the above 6 ways to use that extra inventory now and plan for next year’s product, business owners can tackle the holiday rush with a smile and game plan.  Nobody said Santa Claus couldn’t come to town all season long.

Get Your Finances Straight for 2017

With 2017 upon us, it’s an important time for taking stock of your business’ finances and setting right whatever issues are unresolved. Here are 9 tips you can execute right now to get your finances straight:

  1. Update your business plan: Several sections may need updating. What was the last time you analyzed your competitors or reevaluated your marketing plan? It’s easy to let these things slip, but important to bring them up to date. You will, of course, want to also recast your financial projections and budgets for 2017 in light of current conditions. Check out our Business Budget Smart Sheet to help you whip your budget into shape.
  2. Stay informed about health care: Donald Trump has promised to repeal Obamacare. This will have unpredictable repercussions for companies with employee health plans. It would be wise to anticipate the worst, which is health insurance costs rising substantially. On the other hand, you may no longer need to provide health insurance, which might save you a ton of money. The best advice is to stay informed.
  3. Reassess your capital structure: Do you have enough capital to fund your operation and expansion in 2017. If you plan to grow your business at the start of the year, now would be an excellent time to line up a commercial loan from IOU Financial. Our streamlined process can provide loans of up to $150,000 in as little as one business day. Whether you plan to move to bigger quarters, increase your inventory or add another shift, an IOU Financial business loan can get you ready for 2017 with the capital you need, quickly and hassle-free.
  4. Set aside contingency funds: An excellent 2017 resolution would be to earmark some of your profits for a contingency fund to handle unexpected cash crunches. A proper emergency fund should be able to keep your business afloat for three to six months. You can, of course, supplement your contingency fund with a quick loan from IOU Financial. Unlike a bank, we respond to emergencies immediately with fast funding.
  5. Review your insurance policies: You should review at least once a year your liability insurance, key-person life insurance, health insurance and so forth. The insurance market is quite dynamic, and it’s always a good idea to find out whether money-saving policies are available.
  6. Stay informed about 2017 tax changes: We already mentioned the Obamacare changes that are brewing. Mr. Trump has also promised a giant tax cut for businesses and a relaxation of regulations, all of which could have a major impact on your business finances. If necessary, confer with a tax specialist to ensure you understand the latest rules.
  7. Check the latest salary guide: Every year, several publishers put out the latest industry salary guides. See how your pay structure compares to your industry statistics – you may need to modify you pay structure if you are looking to recruit good people.
  8. Use cash accounting to advantage: Many small businesses use cash accounting, in which income is recognized at collection and expenses realized at disbursement. To lower your 2016 tax bill, prepay expenses and delay collections. This will shift some profits into tax year 2017, giving you an extra year to hold onto them, when tax rates might be lower.
  9. Evaluate your offerings: Depending on what type of business you run, it might be a good idea to look at the products and services you offer and see whether some changes are in order. If you are a merchandiser, you can look at your mix of products and eliminate the weakest performers, and/or extend your range of merchandise to new areas.

One last thing: Happy New Year from your friends at IOU Financial!

Increase Sales in 2017 with a Solid Marketing Plan

Every business owner hopes that the upcoming year will be more successful than the last; but instead of just  hoping, entrepreneurs can create plans to ensure those goals are met. New product launches, expansion and franchising are common way to increase sales, but they are risky and costly. However, implementing a new or improved marketing strategy can benefit a business at a lower cost, or can be budgeted for easily.

What are the Benefits of Marketing?

Blue Cow Creative lists several benefits of marketing, including promoting brand recognition, advertising your services or products to customers, selecting which clients to target, and allowing you to communicate with those individuals in a timely manner.

The bottom line is that a business can offer the most innovative product, or the most cost-effective service, but without marketing the offerings to their intended audience, no sales will follow.

What are the Most Effective Forms of Marketing?

There are a multitude of marketing strategies; there is the traditional, interruption marketing, which interrupts an individual’s day with a cold call, or a television program they are watching with a commercial. Another alternative is permission marketing, which only targets the individuals who give their consent to be contacted.

Research has proven time and time again that permission marketing is not only more cost-effective, as you are not spending funds to contact individuals who have no interest in your business, but is also more effective. It is much easier to close a sale with a person interested in what you have to say, than one who has to be persuaded. Below we list three different types of permission marketing:

Email Promotions 

Emails allow you to communicate with a targeted audience in order to announce new products, sales, special deals and events. There are several ways to ask customers and potential clients to sign up for your email promotions. If you have a physical store or office, you can ask visitors to add their contact information to your list. If you have a website, you can create pop-up advertisements asking people to opt-in to receiving email communication from you. To entice them to sign up, consider offering an exclusive discount or a an entry into a drawing.

Social Media

Social media is an effective marketing tool for any business. It is a form of permission marketing because people have to choose to follow or “like” your business page, and if they always have the option to stop receiving communication by deleting access to their profile.

There are a plethora of social media platforms to choose from; Facebook is the most popular one, allowing access to 1.79 billion monthly active users, but Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest are also beneficial to use to connect to your target audience.

Be strategic about what you post on social media; remember to be honest and ethical, yet make your posts and images eye-catching and creative in order to get noticed. The biggest advantage of social media is that other members can share your posts with their network, providing a form of free advertising.

Influencers

Influencers are individuals that can sway the purchasing decisions of others because of their expertise, authority, or knowledge in a certain area. There are fashion influencers, who curate outfits for their audience, beauty influencers who recommend makeup brands for specific skin needs, etc.

When considering ways to market your brand in 2017, research relevant influencers in your industry. You can contact these individuals through their personal blogs or social media platforms to ask them to recommend your product or service. The best part is that these people already have large fan bases, so your offering would be shared with a multitude of potential customers who want to hear what the influencer has to say. Keep in mind that as payment for their promotion, influencers may request payment in the form of free items or actual monetary compensation.

With the new year quickly approaching, set your marketing budget now so that you can pursue relevant strategies for permission marketing. Get your budget in order before the new year with our Business Budget Smart Sheet.

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New Year Resolutions: Don’t Just Make Them Personal

The new year is quickly approaching, and many of us are making plans for how we will welcome 2017. Some individuals are purchasing champagne to ring in the new year, while others are coming up with new year resolutions. It is fairly common to come up with typical goals, such as losing weight, creating more family time, and dedicating more effort to hobbies and interests, but resolutions are not only beneficial to your personal life. In addition to personal resolutions, concentrate on professional objectives, as well. In fact, it is advantageous for managers to encourage their teams to brainstorm together to plan for the upcoming year with these steps.

Prepare General Company Goals

Prior to sitting down with your team and making resolutions for the following year, make sure you are prepared. You cannot ask your employees to provide solutions without being aware of the company’s plans. It is recommended to meet with your own manager, who is likely privy to more information, and will provide you with projected goals for 2017.

Encourage Employees to Participate

Alert your employees of upcoming meetings to discuss goals, and encourage their participation. It may be beneficial to share the organization’s goals prior to the meeting, and ask your team members to consider ways of accomplishing them. In fact, you may require each and every staff member to create a plan for next year, which involves actionable objectives that can be measured and accomplished.

Business meeting

A great leader will remember that their staff is not only invested in the company’s success, but also in their own. To show your employees that you are committed in empowering them, ask them to create individual professional goals as well as plans to benefit the company’s mission.

Host a Meeting 

In order to create new resolutions, you must dedicate a place and time to get your team together. Schedule a meeting, and alert your team about it in advance, so they have the time to prepare their suggestions. As the meeting commences, you can take the lead in reviewing the company’s and the department’s resolutions for next year, but don’t monopolize the conversation the entire time. Instead, allow each and every individual the time to share their thoughts on relevant steps that should be taken in 2017.

To prevent everyone from speaking at once, or interrupting each other, you may go around the room, giving everyone a chance to contribute, or use an object as a “talking stick,” only allowing the person holding it to speak.

Collaborate on creating a general to-do list for next year with measurable results that can be crossed off as they are accomplished. You can choose to meet with each employee individually at a later date to discuss their personal goals.

Follow Up

After the meeting has concluded, follow up with a written plan for 2017. Designate a team leader to oversee employees in the following year to make sure everyone is staying on track with their resolutions, and providing tools or advice to those that are falling behind.

Goals for 2017: How to Set and Keep Them

Each December, we reflect on the past year and what we can do to improve in the coming months. We take stock of what goals we achieved and where we fell short.  Come January, we promise ourselves to be more productive; whether it’s at work in order to earn a promotion, to eat healthier, or to open our own business. Instead of being discouraged again next December, let’s make 2017 different, and achieve our goals with the help of the following tips. Together we can set realistic objectives and create actionable plans to keep ourselves accountable.

Set Realistic Goals

While New Year’s resolutions don’t always have to be serious and boring, they do have to be realistic. For example, you can challenge yourself to travel more, but don’t set yourself up to fail by promising yourself to travel the world in the next 366 days (2017 is a leap year!)

You know yourself better than anyone else, so only you know what goals you are capable of fulfilling, and what is and is not realistic. If you have set similar resolutions in the past, but never managed to keep them, consider a different plan that may be easier to achieve.

Minimize the Number of Goals

A new year offers a new beginning, so it may be tempting to set out to accomplish numerous goals, but be sure to plan with caution. It’s a better strategy to commit to a few goals, and truly concentrate on achieving them, than to set many objectives and not have the time to accomplish any of them.

For example, if you pledge to lose 10 pounds this year, this will require you to spend time cooking healthy meals and dedicating more personal time to exercising. Don’t also promise yourself to volunteer more, as both goals require you to commit time after work and on weekends, and you may experience a burnout and not accomplish both successfully. Prioritize your free time and see what goals fit best into your schedule for the best success rate. 

Create Actionable Plans

Once you make your resolutions, it’s easy to procrastinate. To avoid postponing your goals, create actionable plans to keep yourself accountable. It can be advantageous to create general milestones, and divide them into individual steps that can be tallied at the end of each month. This way, you will stay reminded daily of what is required to achieve your goal.

For example, if your resolution is to open your own business this year, the first month can be dedicated to doing market research on the competition. The second month can be spent creating marketing materials, and the third committed to obtaining proper business licenses. 

To keep motivating yourself, make sure you visualize your progress by writing down your goals and the steps necessary to achieve them. The more items you are able to cross off your list, the more motivated you will be to keep going!

Is better budgeting one of your 2017 goals? Check out our Business Budget Smart Sheet to help you easily plan, track, and visualize spending.

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