What goals should your small business have in mind? It all depends on what you are looking to do and what you hope to achieve. Still, there are some general guidelines you can use to make sure you are heading in the right direction.

Regardless of where you are at the moment – launching a new startup or trying to steer a mature business to new heights – now is the perfect time to review your goals and to reevaluate your plans to see if the rest of the year will be productive and profitable.

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With that in mind, here is a simple 5-step strategy to consider.

1. Get the money you need to make money

Often to make money, you need to have money to buy assets and fuel operations. Once you have this money, you need to forecast how you will use this money to reach your financial goals.

Without something already in place, it’s difficult to generate enough cash-flow to increase sales and improve revenues.

However, if you’re a small business, you may find yourself hamstrung in raising the capital you need to own the best assets and deploy the most efficient business processes. Many traditional lenders have become risk-averse since the financial crisis that stretched from 2007 to 2009. This is partially due to the fact that many financial pundits say that things are still volatile beneath the surface.

2. Borrow the money you need to turn a profit.

Although getting sufficient capital funding may seem like an intractable problem, the solution is actually simple. It’s possible to get quick small business loans from a lender that understands how every business needs cash to grow. This type of alternative lender can hook you up with the most appropriate financial resources you need to grow your business faster. Often, too, an alternative lender may treat you better than a traditional bank. You’re not just a client to them, a faceless signature on a contract, you’re a business partner.

3. Manage your capital wisely.

Once you have the money you need to push your business growth, how should you manage it?

Here are 3 simple guidelines:

1. Set calendar-based benchmark goals
How much do you hope to earn in six months? How much will you be bringing in a year? Where will you be three years from now? When you have clearly measurable goals set out in front of you, you can work out how to hit your targets.

2. Monitor your progress toward these financial goals
What are the key performance indicators that you should look at each day? By breaking a larger financial goal into smaller, measurable and achievable sub goals, you will know when you are on track and when you have veered off course.

3. Make necessary course corrections
Now that you have your KPI in place, how should you use this feedback? If you are meeting your sub goals, then carry on doing what’s working. If you are failing to meet them, review your business processes. What is it that you need to stop doing? And what is it that you need to start doing?

4. Engage your employees.

Building your brand is almost impossible if you don’t engage your employees to stand behind your promotional efforts.

The best business plans and the most astute marketing ideas will fall flat if you don’t have the right people on board.

Carefully vetting who you hire and hoping for top performance based on how well you’re paying your employees and all the benefits you’re providing is naïve.

In the course of time, stress in the workplace jades even the most sincere employee. Levels of enthusiasm drop, ideals fade away, and apathy replaces initiative.

For your company to prosper, it needs engaged employees. You need to go beyond traditional monetary incentives to make people feel engaged. You need to share your vision in a way that makes everyone feel that they are contributing to some greater good.

How do you keep employees happy?

Find ways to make your employees enjoy coming to work. People are productive when they are happy, and happiness is highly contagious.

Happiness is the result of feeling that a bright future lies ahead. Ask each of your employees where they see themselves a few years down the road. Find out what you can do to help them achieve their career goals.
Happiness is also the result of feeling valued and appreciated. Create a corporate culture that offers team building activities where employees can get to know each other better beyond the demands of their job titles and work responsibilities.

5. Get to know your customer’s better.

Now that you’ve got your business well-funded and everyone engaged to grow the business, your next endeavor should be to improve customer relationships.

Go beyond providing customer service and really get to know your customer’s needs, wants, and desires. Without getting to know your customers well, you’re merely making an educated guess about what they want, but you may be missing the mark without even realizing it. The best way to find out what your customers want is to ask them.

How do you get to know your customers better?

Try the following proven strategies:

  1. Talk to customers. Encourage your employees to spend more time talking to customers rather than simply serving them.
  2. Use focus groups. This is an excellent way to find out what people really think about your products or services.
  3. Use surveys. By asking a few open-ended questions you can get ideas on how to improve your product line.

This five-step approach will give you a big picture view of how to systematically grow your business.