As we enter 2018 it’s important to set up your businesses for success. The Lean Business Planning technique works well for folks who are in business and planning for growth in the coming year. For direction on using this tool for your business, explore the Busey Lunch and Learn and Grow Your Business series on the PortCharlotte.SCORE.org website. Here are other considerations to make your business more efficient and more effective in the New Year.

Efficiency is the key to maximizing small business profitability, productivity, and potential.  But in devoting so much attention to processes and people, small business owners often neglect to optimize their most important asset, themselves. Every day offers the opportunity to learn something that can be applied to improving the quality of your business. It’s simply a matter of being aware of what’s going on outside the walls of your store, factory, or home office.

In traditional news sources such as trade journals, national news publications, or your local paper you may spot something in a story on a seemingly unrelated topic that could benefit your business or, perhaps more importantly, influence your customers and their needs.

There are always new skills to learn, new technologies to master, and new ways to do things. In our area, the North Port Small Business Lunch and Learn, the Busey Bank Lunch and Learn in Port Charlotte and the Grow Your Business workshops in Punta Gorda provide instruction and information on growing your business. Details for these and other training opportunities are available at the PortCharlotte.SCORE.org website.

If you’re going to be successful as an owner of a small business, particularly one with employees, you have to be a manager and a leader. You’ve already demonstrated leadership qualities by taking the initiative to start a small business, and committing yourself to its success. Translating that vision into a culture that will inspire and motivate employees to do their best is not always easy.

Small business owners need to analyze and understand the meaning of their financials in order to make wise decisions. Review your Income Statement, Balance Sheet and Cash Flow Statement monthly. Otherwise you risk finding serious problems too late to take corrective action.

Time is a precious commodity for every entrepreneur. With all the responsibilities of managing and growing a small business, the hours and the days can easily slip by, sometimes leaving one to wonder just how much got accomplished. For many, the go-to time management tool is the to-do list. Marking off completed items may provide a sense of satisfaction but it may not be as productive as you think. Prioritize tasks based on revenue generation. Rely on the Pareto Theory and focus on the critical few and not the trivial many.

Finally, the best way to maximize your personal efficiency is to take care of your health. Take breaks during the day, and set business aside completely when you leave work, especially if you have a home office. Exercise regularly, eat right, and don’t put off regular medical exams or vacations. After all, if the boss isn’t operating at 100 percent, chances are his or her small business won’t either.

Let me know your thoughts at eddavis@scorevolunteer.org.

Port Charlotte SCORE is a Chapter of The SCORE Association, dedicated to the formation, growth and success of small businesses by educating and mentoring entrepreneurs. Volunteers provide confidential business advice to meet the needs of both start-up and existing entrepreneurs at no cost. Request a mentor at www.portcharlotte.score.org. To learn how you can become a mentor call Don Benjamin at 941-249-4440. Follow us on Twitter; @charlottecscore