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The UPS Store Small Business blog
  • 12 July 2021
  • Liam Edwardson

The 2021 Small Business Mid-Year Check-In

If history teaches us anything, it is that this past year and a half has been inarguably challenging for many. Hopefully, your small business is rebounding, building momentum and getting back to pre-March 2020 days. There may be no better time than the present to take stock of how 2021 has gone so far. Here is a list of mid-year steps you could take to determine your current status and strategize how you might want the rest of the year, and ensuing years, to unfold.

woman in a clothing store

Go from analysis to action

The first step: Ask the questions that need to be asked and have an honest discussion with yourself. What is going on with your customers? Your marketplace? The business climate overall? Examine your rival companies, decipher their business strategy and figure out what they’re doing right and not so right. What can you learn and apply to your own small business?

Make your social media channels newsworthy

Small business owners can get so caught up in the day-to-day that the company website may suffer from neglect. For example, when was the last time you updated the blog or news section? Have you added new products and/or services to your portfolio that haven’t been announced or promoted? Are you still speaking to the right audience? If your company URL isn’t up to snuff, you could be missing out on a great source for prospective new business.

Plan ahead and make sure you are properly staffed

If you have employees, how are they doing? Are they working long hours, overextended or overwhelmed? A strong work ethic is welcome, but be careful they’re not veering into burnout territory. Inadequate resources could be preventing crucial customer support and derailing new business opportunities. You may also want to evaluate your current staff and identify where performance meets expectations and where it may be lacking.

If you do decide to add or subtract, make sure you abide by federal and state employment laws regarding interviews, drug testing, equal opportunity and other important issues.

Consider updating your business structure

Take a good, long look at your legal business structure. Perhaps you started out as a sole proprietorship. Yet as your customer base grows, you may have started expanding your services and hiring your first employees. You have the option to form an LLC (limited liability company) to obtain liability protection. If you’re an LLC, you may want to restructure as a corporation to attract investors and/or to sell stock.

Shop around for insurance

There are a lot of different insurance policies out there, which makes it easy to be confused. You may have started with general liability and property insurance, but as your firm grows in size and success, you may want to consider alternatives, such as business owner’s and cyber policies. It is also worth noting that lenders who offer Small Business Administration (SBA) loans will most likely require certain types and levels of insurance before they approve your application.

Spark your small business with a loan

Taking on debt might not seem attractive, but a loan could be the boost you need for accelerated growth. SBA loans can be a fantastic way to bolster your business. SBA loans historically offer low rates, long terms and low payments. But if you don’t qualify for an SBA loan, then look into a small-business term loan. Many business term loans provide fixed interest rates and affordable monthly payments, with no prepayment penalties.

Put your bank to work

Meet with your local bank representative to review your accounts, and brainstorm ways to save money and/or receive more benefits. Discuss your business plans, your outlook and if you qualify for a new or higher line of credit or a loan. Even if you don’t commit to any of it this year, it may be advantageous to line up options in case you need them in the future.

Consult with your CPA or tax pro

We know it seems like you just got done with taxes, but it never hurts to plan ahead. In fact, since your accountant or tax preparer is no longer overbooked with tax appointments, they’re better able to focus squarely on financial planning and devising and implementing strategies.

Go forth and network

Summer is an ideal time to attend conferences, conventions, exhibitions and other events. You could maybe even arrange one of your own. What better way to acquaint yourself and your small business with prospective new clients and potential new vendors? Many of these are still being conducted virtually, which offers additional flexibility and even more options to consider. At the very least, it can help you keep pace with industry trends and opportunities. As an added bonus, by joining discussions and panels, you could establish yourself as an expert and solidify your brand.

Never stop learning

Why not take a class? Chances are you have something that needs improvement or updating, whether it's cost management, social media marketing, management training, customer engagement, etc. There are a multitude of informative online courses, webinars and Zoom meetings, all yours for the taking. You’ll find them offered by colleges, chambers of commerce, business development organizations, private companies and more. Not only could you build up your knowledge base, but you could also amass new colleagues, vendors, and clients in the process.

Invest in yourself

Building a business can take its toll mentally, physically and spiritually — especially given the events of the last year and a half. So, it’s likely you could use a mid-year check-in as well. Are you eating right, getting enough exercise, and socializing with people you like to be with? Sometimes the best way forward is to take a step back.

Think of your business as if it were a car. It’s a machine that requires regular oil changes every 4,000 to 10,000 miles, or it eventually grinds to a halt. A healthy business requires that level of scheduled maintenance. The mid-year check-in can help keep your small business in tip-top condition and ready for whatever adversities and challenges lie on the road ahead.

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