Question: 2019 has been a relatively good year for my small business and I want the momentum to continue into the year ahead. Where should my focus be, looking forward?

Answer: You can’t prepare for the coming year without looking backward at the year just concluded. Did you meet or exceed your goals? What were your greatest successes? Which goals fell short of your expectations, why, and what can you do to differently?

There are no quick and easy answers to some of these questions. Now is the time to revisit your business plan and make revisions, as may be necessary, for continued growth. The following are seven areas that business owners and managers need to keep in focus:

  • Delegate – Most small business owners try to do too much. Your primary job is to plan and execute a strategy that will ensure both growth and profitability. To this end your work-life balance is essential. Hire and train capable people and trust them to do their assigned tasks.
  • Set Realistic Goals – A good goal is one that is specific, measurable and achievable within a given time frame. Delegate and break the ultimate goals down into various steps. This is known as a “project management” approach.
  • Anticipate change – We live in a fast paced, changing world. Consumer tastes are like a revolving door. Be alert to your competition.
  • Two Heads better than One – This old adage is tried and proven. Involve your employees in the process of setting and implementing goals. When employees are part of the process, they will not only understand, but support the goals.
  • Don’t reinvent the wheel – The problems your business may face are probably not unique. Consider joining a trade association or networking group. Sharing ideas with complementing or similar businesses can help you avoid costly mistakes.
  • Don’t beat a dead horse – Not all goals meet with success. If, despite your best efforts, things are not coming together as planned, recognize this fact and move on to the next project.
  • Recognize and reward good work – If your project management approach results in success, make sure that those employees responsible are recognized and rewarded accordingly.

Of the seven areas mentioned, the art of delegation is the most important. You want to avoid burn-out. Stress can affect your physical health and rob you of creative thought. It has been said that achieving a healthy work-life balance is like maintaining a good relationship. If you take this to heart you will not only feel better but your business will continue to thrive.

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Gray Poehler is a volunteer with SCORE Naples. Business counseling on this and other business matters is available, without charge, from the Naples Chapter of SCORE. Call (239) 430-0081 or visit https://naples.score.org/. The SCORE business office is located at 900 Goodlette Road North, in the Fifth Third branch bank building. Office hours are 9 a.m. to noon, Monday through Friday.