It’s a new year, and you may be interested in starting your own business. Or, perhaps you already have a business. If you are an entrepreneur, this is a good time to stock of where you are at, and prepare for success in the coming year. Here are some things you can do now to make sure you start the year out right for your business:

1. Do Some Research

One of the first things you should do is a little research. Find out more about your market, your potential customers and clients, and pricing. You want to make sure that you are being reasonable in your expectations. If you are just starting out, do research on others’ experiences with entrepreneurship so that you are aware of what to expect — and know the kind of hard work that goes into being an entrepreneur.

2. Know What You Need to Do

After completing your research, it is a good idea to know what you need to do. Create a task list of items that you need to complete. Entrepreneurs need to consider what supplies they need, where they will set up office space, where to look for clients and how they will raise the funds they need to start-up or continue financing their operations. Break down your to-do list into small steps that might be a little more manageable. Remember to prioritize, accomplishing the most important tasks first.

3. Create a Measurable Annual Operating Plan

Once you have completed the research that can help you lay a solid foundation, and begun working on your task list, it is time to create an annual operating plan. Create a budget to go along with your plan. This should be based on the research you have done. Your operating plan should also include measurable benchmarks so that you can track your progress and evaluate your performance. Your operating plan can also help you recognize when tweaks need to be made to get you on track.

4. Set Up Accounting Software

You can start the year off right by using accounting software from the outset. You will need to use software that can help you with invoicing, payroll and other items. Look for a quality business suite. Setting up your accounting software so that you can keep track of income, expense categories, as well as tax information, as you go along will simplify things when tax time rolls around later. Even if you are just starting out, don’t skimp on your accounting software. Laying a good financial system foundation now will make it easier to expand later. Scaling up won’t be as much of a problem if you are properly prepared.

5. Create a Records System

Now is the perfect time to get a records system in place for the year. Create a filing system that can help you keep track of the documentation you need to back up information in your taxes. This includes receipts, mileage logs and other documents. Keep everything filed neatly from the beginning and you won’t have as big an ordeal later. You don’t even have to do it in hard copy. You can set up a digital system that involves scanning documents (or having statements emailed so that you can save them) and filing them on your computer. Just make sure that you back your system up regularly so the information isn’t lost.

6. Meet a Mentor, Build Your Network

Networking is an important part of starting a successful business. Entrepreneurs can start the year off right by looking for a mentor to provide guidance and support. You can find mentors and build a network by using such services as MeetUp, LinkedIn and Focus. These contacts can help you find resources, forge useful connections and develop rewarding lifelong relationships. If you are already established, this is also a great way to give back to the system by providing mentorship to upcoming entrepreneurs.

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