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How to make 2016 your best business year yet 

blogAs most of us start back at work today, I wanted to impart some advice on not just getting through the hardest Monday of the year, but also making this the start of your best business year yet.

2015 is the year I set up HK Communications.  I wanted to offer businesses something different by being the perfect balance between a PR agency and a freelancer, offering the best of both worlds.

It’s been a great experience so far, with a whole new set of challenges that comes with setting up your own business.  The learning curve has been steep, often difficult, but hugely rewarding.

So armed with this experience, I’m sharing my top tips for owners of businesses large and small. So one by one, I’ll be offering the key steps towards making 2016 your best business year yet.

So for the first step, let’s start with the scariest:

five year plan

Do a five year plan 

Do you have a five year plan for your business? You may have scribbled something together when you started out, which you’ve now lost in your filing cabinet (or down the back of the sofa at home).  However, a five year plan shouldn’t be a pointless exercise, it should be a realistic vision of where you’d like to see your business headed.

It may seem intimidating to look so far ahead and write down where you want to be, after all recessions, family and other external factors may blow your plans out of the water.  However, you can’t plan for these things, but you can plan for your business, and that’s exactly what you should do.

Running your business without a long term vision is like driving without a destination – you’re just wandering aimlessly.  When you get into your car in the morning, you know where you need to go, you may encounter traffic and diversions, but your final destination doesn’t change.  It’s the same in business.  You may encounter unexpected obstacles on your journey, but you still have the same vision.

So set down your goals, they don’t have to be lofty or over-ambitious, but they should reflect the aims and aspirations that you have for your business.

What to include in your five year business plan:          

Financial projections – you’ve seen the fatal mistake that’s often repeated in Dragons Den, when a business is mauled after giving unrealistic finger-in-the-air business projections.  Your projections should be based on where you are now, what you can realistically achieve with the resources you have (or the resources you expect to have in five years), and how much time you expect to spend on the business.  The latter is hugely important and usually overlooked.  If you plan on scaling back your time spent on the business, or being your own boss to achieve a greater work-life balance, you would need to reflect this in your numbers accordingly.

Resources – if you currently work from home, would you like to have your own office space? If you’re located on the outskirts of a city, would you like to move to a more central location to gain more footfall? These considerations will affect your bottom line, and dictate how much money your business needs to make to justify these resources.

Human resources – How much can your business grow with your current team? Do you want additional staff? Would you like junior staff for administrative functions, or senior staff to share the load?    How much would your business need to turnover to justify taking on an additional member of staff? Do you want to employ staff on payroll, or enlist the service of freelancers or contractors?  Ask yourself these questions and remember, it’s better to think lean where possible.

Your capacity – It’s worth considering doing your business plan after plotting your personal five year plan, as the latter will dictate what the former will look like.  A personal plan is exactly that, it shows you where you want to be in your life, from how many children you’d like, where you’d like to live, right down to what car you’d like to drive and how much time you’d like to spend at home.

The whole point of a personal plan is to help you understand that everything has a price tag and your resource is finite, so marrying up the cost of the lifestyle you’d like, with how much time you’d like to spend on your business, will help inform your five-year business plan. For example, you might want to spend more time at home with your family, so this would dictate how much income you can expect from your business, how many staff you may need to cover your absence, and how much the business can operate without you. Establishing this will dramatically affect what your five year plan will look like.

All of the above points are interlinked, and complement and offset each other.  So use the New Year to think afresh about where you’d like to be, and what it will take to get there.

Coming next: how to make small steps to achieve your five year plan.  To get this advice straight into your inbox, add your email below:

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Halima Khatun, Director, HK Communications.

Halima Khatun