As the first month of 2017 has somehow already come and gone, many resolutions and goals have started to dwindle or have already lost traction. It’s far too common for motivation to skyrocket in January and quickly drop off in the following months.

But this year can be different for you and your startup or small business.

You owe it to yourself to remain diligent with your goals. Your success just may depend on it! So start by asking yourself: how are you going to make 2017 one for the small business ‘record books’?

Getting Started

Effective goal setting starts from step one, as proper planning is a crucial first step.

Odds are that no matter what specific small business niche you are a part of, accounting and data are two necessary elements. The majority of modern small businesses need both to succeed.

Start by visualizing what your specific goals for the year are, and piece together a cohesive plan. Look at your own, personal goal-setting history in order identify initial speed bumps that may occur. Learn from your own past mistakes! Once visualized, set deadlines for yourself that are realistic and attainable. Reinvent your own wheel and do so in a way that’s comfortable and measurable. That way, you can view you goals in a series of ‘bite-sized’ chunks and track your goal progress. This can help alleviate overwhelmed attitudes

While dreaming big is by no means a bad idea, getting ahead of yourself and your small business goals certainly can be. Clearly spell out your realistic goals. And if you’re like most modern small businesses, odds are several of these goals will be relevant to accounting upkeep or big data.

Accounting Tech for Small Businesses

Technology plays a critical role in the success of small businesses and their accounting needs. Make it a goal to be as well versed as possible with accounting tech, as it can save you money, labor, and headaches!

A previous BizCatalyst 360 article, titled 5 Significant Ways Technology Has Changed Accounting, highlights the tech that has transformed small businesses in recent years. Cloud computing and online/mobile accounting are contemporary ways to get your small business up to speed.

If you haven’t, it’s time to ditch the old school pen-and-paper approach and set a business goal to enter the digital accounting world, headfirst. Focus on being more tech-infused this year, and keep accounting security at the forefront of your mind.

Related: The Key Traits of Highly Effective Accountants

Expenses Tracked, Deductions Organized

While this is easier said than done for most, it’s definitely important no matter what your small business looks like. We all need to be prepared for tax time, so avoiding the last-minute scramble of sorting through expenses and deductions is a wise choice.

But once again, easier said than done, right? What goals should small businesses set in order to be more persistent with their accounting endeavors?

An article by QuickBooks hones in on several ways to refine tracking your business expenses with some useful tips. If you haven’t already, start by:

  • Creating a business bank account
  • Staying on top of your receipts
  • Using an online calendar to note your expenses as they occur
  • Tracking and analyzing your business purchases through use of software
  • Hiring a bookkeeper if necessary

These are excellent jumping-off points that will allow you to further narrow your small business accounting goals.

While setting new financial goals you may find new ways to shave unnecessary costs from business budgets, but be sure not to cut necessary expenses in the process. Remain deliberate throughout this process.

If your small business doesn’t need an accounting overhaul just yet, you can make it a goal to stay as organized as possible all year.

Even Small Business Crave Big Data

Data science is something that has grown tremendously in the last decade. What used to be reserved to the biggest businesses with the largest budgets is now available to just about everyone with access to a smartphone.

As a graphic by University of Alabama Informations Systems puts it:

“The growth of the Internet, wireless networks, smartphones, social media, sensors, and other digital technology is fueling a big data revolution. Big data was the exclusive domain of statisticians and large corporations, but not anymore.”

Invest in big data tools for if you haven’t already. All businesses need it; with big data, you’ll win!

Dig into your businesses analytics. Educate yourself on the subject, and if necessary, hire a data specialist to assist you. Remember: data isn’t going away, it’s something that is growing and becoming more essential with each passing year.

Related: How Do You Build Your Big Data?

Data Privacy

Finally, and perhaps the most important goal to set for all small businesses is to focus on data privacy and security in 2017.

Just as technology is constantly evolving, so are criminals. Cyber crime rates have spiked, as identity thieves, hackers, and other cybercriminals are the new burglars of the world. What they want to steal from you transcends physical property; they want to rob you digitally instead!

Improving your small business’ digital security can seem like quite the task. Cybercriminals can strike anyone within your organization: from the front desk attendant, to production employees, to the CEO.

There are five key ways any small business can improve their data security this year.

Set goals to implement new security policies across the board, and be sure to keep your staff properly trained. A lot of cyber attacks are the result of a lack of foundational security knowledge. Keep in mind that security is everyone’s job!

Make sure that all of your business-related software is up to date with the most current security patches and updates. If necessary, invest in newer, more secure technology.

Finally, keep your most sensitive data tucked away. Make extra efforts to keep the most important information safe!

Related: Defending Your Data


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