At the beginning of the new year, business owners are often  as eager to make resolutions for their companies as for their personal lives. There’s no better time to turn over a new leaf, to embark on previously neglected projects, or to commit to a change you may have been considering than the start of the New Year.

Changes that push your business forward, that keep you interested in your work, and that improve the experiences of your employees and customers: these can all be all good fodder for your specific resolutions. But there’s a bigger, more comprehensive resolution that all small businesses ought to make as they flip the calendar from 2015 to 2016.

Let’s resolve to plan strategically this year. Whether in marketing, management, growth, or financing, the best new year’s resolution for small business owners is to think more strategically every day.

Strategic planning means thinking through your business decisions as they affect the long-term direction of your company. Strategic planning means being proactive, not reactive. It means that you know your mission and can see the big picture—and that you understand how the big picture works both on the macro level and as it trickles down to each and every seemingly small decision.

That implies your resolution to think strategically will influence all the activities of your business.

First, your resolution will lead you to revamp your budgeting process so the money you spend goes to important plans first. When you have resolved to be strategic, you’ll have solid metrics for tracking forecasts and revising them to account for how projections measured up against actual events.                                                           

Second, your resolution will help you determine whether or not you need extra capital for a new project, and if you do, where the best place will be to look. Determining when financing will allow you to invest and grow your business means knowing exactly how you’d like to invest and grow. That wisdom accumulates when you think more strategically, and it becomes easier to differentiate between a good reason to finance a new initiative and when financing might not be a good idea. Plus, if part of your strategic plan does involve seeking a loan, you’ll be able to make decisions along the way that improve your credit or improve your cash flow.  

Finally, thinking more strategically will make the daily small choices involved in business ownership easier to make. Should you funnel money into content marketing? What hours should you open your doors?  Does it make sense to work with independent contractors? These queries no longer seem abstract or inconsequential when you know exactly where you’er going.

Depending on the way you’ve mapped out your year—with an eye toward being more strategic—you’ll be able to respond to any business challenge that presents itself. Plan to plan strategically in 2016 and you might be surprised at how much easier it becomes—and the positive impact it will have within your business.

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