SMALL businesses need to use the beginning of the new year to reflect on the achievements of the past 12 months and prepare for the year ahead.

Jesse Weinberg, head of the SME Customer Segment at FNB Business, gave advice to entrepreneurs about what they need to do for the rest of the year.

Review last year’s goals: Business owners need to review their short-term goals often in order measure progress and learn from their past mistakes. Short-term goals also help a business to determine if it is still on track to meet its long-term objectives.

Get your finances in order: We can only expect the economy to get worse before it gets better.

Having a positive cashflow at the beginning of the year helps your small business resist the ugly surprises of the downturn.

Cash flow management also a good indicates deeper or hidden issues within the business that need to be addressed immediately.

Stay ahead of competition: Monitor your competitors’ activity and how the market responds to their goods or services. This will help you identify any shortcomings in your business.

For example, if you are still offering products and services in store while your competitors have successfully migrated to digital channels, it’s time to consider a multi-channel approach.

Meet customer needs: The most practical way to measure customer satisfaction is to communicate directly with the recipients of your goods or services.

Online reviews and social media are good channels to your public. Businesses must be quick and constantly re-invent their business models so that they can meet changing customer needs.

Celebrate success: Business owners often mistakenly focus on challenges and negatives but it is just as important that you and your staff celebrate business successes.

“Once you have reviewed the performances for the past year, it is essential to set new goals for the year ahead.

“This should involve reviewing or updating your original business plan to ensure that it is still relevant,” Weinberg said.