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Must-Reads on Small Business Planning in 2018

December 19, 2018

Bells are jingling, and trees are lit. Soon, many of us will sing Auld Lang Syne as we pack away 2018, break out the bubbly, and welcome 2019.

In the thick of holiday transactions and year-end reporting, many merchants struggle to find time to think forward to 2019, much less plan for it. But as the old adage goes, failing to plan is planning to fail.

To help merchants step ahead of holiday to-dos and into 2019, we’ve compiled our best strategic planning content for easy perusal.

The Plan

A strategic plan may sound like something found on the desk of a 5-star general or the CEO of an international firm. True. But it should also be on the desktop, wall, or device of every small business owner.

Why? Because a strategic plan charts a course to a goal, whether for a military maneuver, major acquisition, or small business. And it serves to guide and remind leaders of that goal.

Fortunately, building a strategic plan is within every merchant’s grasp simply by considering the following 6 areas. To help you on your way to a plan, be sure to read this guide to strategic planning for small businesses and 8 tips to help small businesses with successful strategic planning.

1. SWOT Analysis

Before business owners can build a strategic plan, they need to know exactly how their businesses are faring. Enter SWOT, a simple acronym for 4 areas that every business owner should assess to determine the state of the business: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

Learn more about SWOT:

2. Productivity

Productivity is simply getting more bang for your buck and time. Whether it’s improving your time management, increasing employee output, or improving communication among your employees, greater efficiency is within reach. For inspiration on the productivity improvements you can target and how to make them in 2019, take a look at this concise guide to increasing productivity.

And peruse these productivity tips:

More tips for Restaurant Owners:

3. Staffing

Staffing is a critical element in every strategic plan. The trick to effective staffing is knowing or being able to estimate when it’s time to bring on your first employee, expand your existing staff, or add a middle manager to your team to help with the day-to-day. First, view this guide to hiring and managing employees and these top 8 hiring tips for small business.

Then, review this staffing checklist:

And one more item for Restaurant Owners:

4. Sales and Marketing

Rarely can a business grow without the help of a sales and marketing strategy. For most business owners, a stellar marketing strategy is an absolute. But how do you begin to figure out the tactics that could work for your business? Check out this concise guide for smart marketing to learn about techniques that work, running mobile marketing campaigns, improving your website’s SEO, and more. Remember, successful marketing is a test-and-learn process. If one tactic doesn’t work, try another.

Note these marketing tactics:

Marketing tips for Restaurant Owners:

5. Customers

Customers are indispensable to a business’ health and one of the most important considerations on its strategic plan. Unfortunately, many businesses get so involved in daily chores, they overlook the customer’s experience. Further, some businesses fall into the trap of thinking existing customers are easily replaced by new ones. Not so. For a realistic perspective on the value of each customer, business owners must first understand customer lifetime value (LCV), how to calculate it, and why it matters.

And while holiday crowds are bustling, whether in your shop or on your website, it’s the perfect time to turn holiday shoppers into loyal customers by introducing tactics that help you engage and connect with your customers beyond that initial holiday transaction.

How can you engage customers?

And Restaurants Owners can:

6. Measurement

Understanding how profitable your business is means more than staying on top of the bottom line. Numbers called key performance indicators (KPIs) indicate the health of your business and identify potential risks before they’re realized. Whether it’s determining your average ticket size, conversion rate, or customer acquisition cost, your KPIs can help you manage your cash flow and determine if your marketing efforts warrant the time and dollars you’ve invested in them. Learn more about how to measure your business health with these 9 numbers.

Measurement must-dos:

Measurement tasks for Restaurant Owners:

Launching a New Business?

Before you draft a strategic plan, apply for a business license, set up a domain for your website, or rent office space, read this guide to launching your business. From business planning to mapping out a hiring strategy, this guide offers insights that’ll help jump-start your small business.

More tips on starting a small business:

Interested in opening a restaurant? Check out this must-read: How to open and run a restaurant.


Clover is sold by leading U.S. banks including Bank of America, BBVA, Citi, PNC, SunTrust and Wells Fargo. You’ll also find Clover at our trusted partners including CardConnect, Restaurant Depot, and Sam’s Club. For more information, visit us at clover.com.