Believe it or not, it’s creeping up on the end of the year again, which means it’s time to start taking stock of how things have gone over the past 12 months and looking ahead to the future. Below is our list of 5 likely mistakes for business owners to make in 2015. Read, avoid, and be ahead of the curve.
1. Taking Your Eye Off of Your Cash Flow. Even if cash flow hasn’t historically been an issue for you, there are no guarantees. Between the natural ebb and flow of most industries, game-changing regulations (sequestration, anyone?), and broader economic trends, most businesses are bound to have some tight times. If you never think you’ll have to tighten the purse string, you won’t plan for it, and that is a grave mistake. Even with the economy expected to have decent growth this upcoming year – Watch your cash flow and do whatever you can to protect it. This includes understanding and considering carefully what your estimated tax obligations will be and when you will have to pay them. This is particularly important if you have expanded your business to other states, where you will be required to pay the required sales and use taxes. Additionally, make sure you know which tax breaks have expired / are going to expire and what new regulations may increase your tax bill. Your accountant should proactively keep you abreast of these changes to help you plan accordingly.
2. Dodging the Details. By details, I mean your financials, milestones, dates, responsibilities and deadlines. Cash flow is the most important, but you also need lots of details when it comes to assigning tasks to people, setting activity dates and specifying what’s supposed to happen and who’s supposed to make it happen. These details really matter. Your 2015 strategic plan will be wasted without them.
3. Ignoring Data Mining Opportunities. Most growing businesses have a data disadvantage; they simply don’t gather enough information to make the best decisions. You have access to market data, competitive data, customer data and employee data. You just have to decide what questions you want answered, make an effort to gather the data and then act on it.
4. Doing Too Much Yourself. As CEO, your hand is in every pot. You are trying to juggle all that flies across your desk while keeping an eye on each department. To get your finger on the pulse, spend a few dedicated hours every week to actually focus on running your business. How do you do this? Focus on your strengths and bring in experts to compensate for your weaknesses. As a business owner there are things you do better than anyone you know, and so you continue to do them yourselves and procrastinate hiring others to handle those tasks; or maybe the real issue is that you want to avoid paying for quality. This is flawed thinking that doesn’t allow your business (or even your own capabilities) to grow.
5. Being Chained to Your Computer. Tasks that used to mean travel (whether it’s just to the next room or across the world) now can happen without ever having to get up from your desk. That is undeniably pretty convenient. But at this point, maybe it’s time to stop being amazed at the convenience of modern business technology, and start actually examining which old-school methods are worth holding onto. This tech audit will surely look different for every business. However, a good bottom line to aim for is to do everything you can to preserve face-to-face interactions. Any time it’s possible, suggest a coffee or lunch meeting instead of volleying emails all day. It can end up being a time saver, not to mention the invaluable forging of relationships that result from personal contact – especially during a time when it’s increasingly rare. Simply meeting in person is enough to make you stand out and stick in someone’s mind.
McLean, Koehler, Sparks & Hammond (MKS&H) is a professional service firm with offices in Hunt Valley and Frederick. MKS&H helps owners and organizational leaders become more successful by advising them regarding their financial, technology and human capital management needs.