The new year is often a time for reflection, resolution making and starting fresh. For some, this means more time at the gym, eating healthier, or taking up a new hobby. But for others, this may mean following that New Year’s resolution to take the plunge and open up a small business or expand the one you have. If this is you, here are five things to keep in mind when embarking on this adventure.\nHave a clear vision of your business\nHaving a clear vision of your business will help you, especially when you are starting out and looking for clients and partners. Who do you want to work with? What do you want to be known for? What are your values? What is your brand and who are your customers? Lack of a clear vision can make opening or growing your business stressful, as you could waste a lot of time and money not going in the absolute best direction. Not to mention, lack of clarity can confuse your existing and potential customers and partners.\nFind the “right” customer\nFinding customers is challenging and time consuming to begin with, so finding the “right” ones is even harder and requires focus. But, once that right customer is found not only have you opened up the opportunity for future revenue, but you have also opened up the opportunity for relationship building, thus strengthening your brand. Keep in mind, if the right customer or client is satisfied, they will do the advertising work for you.\nKnow your cash flow\nCash is king in small business. It is needed not just to pay ongoing operating costs, but also to finance the growth of your business. The important thing to remember is that without access to enough cash, your business can fail, even if it is “succeeding.” This is because investment needs to be made up front before the return on that investment is received. Analyzing future cash projections is critical because small business operators need to know their cash needs early on, as it takes a lot of time and effort to secure necessary financing to support your business as it grows.\nTake advantage of technology, but don’t lose sight of the personal touch\nIn today’s society, we can be connected by a click of the mouse, a simple email, or a traditional live phone call. Connectivity makes doing business more efficient, but this ease of purchase and quick transactions can often mask the real connection and a personal touch still goes far in any business. So, while it is important to utilize and take advantage of technology, we must also be mindful of what makes some of the best small businesses successful – the way they make each customer, client or partner feel special and part of something bigger.\nIt’s all about how you manage the hurdles\nThere will be challenges starting and operating a small business (ask even the most seasoned small business professionals). It’s not about the hurdles or failures along the way; it’s about how you manage and overcome the challenges you are faced with. Remember, the best small business owners are the ones that turn every misstep into an opportunity to learn and accelerate their business to achieve their vision.\nKEEP THE CONVERSATION GOING\nIf you could start a small business today, what would it be? Post a comment below.\n \nDisclaimer\nThe views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect that of CPA Canada.