One of the best things about the New Year for a small business owner is that it’s a fresh start and an opportunity to set some new goals to aim for. I’ve embraced this idea and have started updating my business plan to outline everything I want to achieve in 2015. However as with anything in business it’s never that simple and before I can look to the future I need to examine how I performed last year. The best place to start would be divide my business up into segments and look at each of those separately and then as a whole.

Marketing – This has been a learning curve for me as I have tried various different methods and got a range of results out of them. I’ve used Telemarketing, Direct Mailing, Flyers, PPC (pay per click), Google Organic, Google Places, Networking, and Social Media. I suppose the main lesson I’ve learned is that consistency is important and that you need to pick a marketing strategy and stick to it as each one might take a few months to pay off. On the other hand though I did need to try a few types of marketing before I found the right one for my business so 2015 should be more productive as I now know what works the best and can focus on that. My New Year strategy will focus on taking 2 or 3 of the methods I used in 2014 and improving their effectiveness and reducing the costs involved, Google will be at the heart of this as I already have one of the strongest search presences for Accountants in Northampton.

Sales – This area is different from marketing as it about converting leads into clients, whereas marketing focusses on generating those leads in the first place. Over the year my technique has evolved and I have improved my ability to read potential clients and identify what’s important to them. Although this is more of a passive area it is still important to understand and improve the balance between selling yourself, listening to others and knowing how much information to give away in an initial meeting.

Operations – Over 2014 I’ve developed a range of standard operating procedures (SOP’s) for various activities in my business. This could be engaging a new client, dealing with a tax return or even something as simple as arranging a meeting. Over 2015 I will look at refining these in order to improve my clients experience of using my business and also identify activities I’m currently involved in that could benefit from a standardised approach. After all my long term goal is to have a business that is large enough to employ staff so I will need a way of ensuring my client experience stays the same regardless of which member in my practice performs the work.

Knowledge – Most business owners will need to undertake some form of continuous professional development (CPD). For some it’s a requirement of an institute and for others it is recommended anyway so that the quality of service that they provide meets their customers’ expectations. My focus for 2014 was to stay at the cutting edge of accountancy & tax, however in 2015 I will be improving my strategy to ensure I can update these skills in a more efficient way and that my knowledge of accountancy is as relevant as it needs to be for my clients.

Finances – This is probably the most important part of my 2014 review and 2015 goal setting and I need to identify how much each activity mentioned in the previous segments cost me and what the return was. Once I understand this I will be able to plan accurately for 2015 and understand my cash flows and marketing budgets as well as the number of clients I will need to ensure my business makes enough money to live off.

Overall I’m very excited about 2015 and after a year in business I now know what my strengths are and how to run my business far more effectively at a lower cost. This in turn will be great value for my clients as the service I provide them will be better value than ever and I will be able to help them use the lessons I’ve learned to improve their own businesses. If you would like to discuss any of the topics covered in this article or would like help developing your own 2015 plan please contact us.

2015 bring it on!!

Nishi Patel BSc ACMA