According to Sawgrass manager of education Jimmy Lamb, those who have business plans are already ahead of the game. A business plan includes market research, financial planning, specific goals and milestones and plans for managing changes and setting expectations.

In short, it is a blueprint for going from startup to sustained income and growth. If you don’t currently have one, make that a priority as you build strategies for the rest of the year. In addition to building a solid plan, here are tips to help product decorators start off a new year in business on the right foot.

Assess your system

How did your printers and presses hold up during the holiday rush? Do you think they will continue to consistently provide what you need for another 12 months? Do you have enough capacity to fill all of the customer orders you are anticipating?

Take a few minutes to think about the equipment you currently have, goals for 2019 and whether or not replacing old or adding new printers is the right move for your business. Though some printers work day in and out for many, many years with very few issues, others are not as reliable.

Review 2018

Now that 2018 is done, it’s a good time to look at your business’ successes, struggles and what can be learned from both. How was last year for your business? Did you grow as much as you had planned? Did you offer all of the products you wanted to? Did you have any ideas for new products? Did you have any products that you just couldn’t keep in stock?

Take some time to really think about these questions, what lessons you learned and what it all means for your business, both in the short and long term. The insights that only come with experience can help guide you and your business for success in 2019.

Set new goals for 2019

During 2018, you’ve done market research, saw what was trending and what your markets were looking for from your business. Now refocus all that information for 2019.

What are you going to offer this year that will make your profits soar? What strategies can you build to ensure steady business all year? Where are there opportunities to increase sales with existing customers? What new markets do you want to get into? What new products do you want to test-market and add to your offering?

Based on the answers to these questions, set up a timeline and specific sales goals you want to meet throughout the year. Maybe your business is somewhat slow during the summer months. What can you do to drum up more sales during this time? A promotion? New product launch? New market? Only you can answer these questions, and those answers may lead you to more profitable pastures.

Stock up

Use your 2018 sales and your business’ use of consumables (substrates, ink, paper, packaging, etc.) as a guideline for what you will need for production this year. Then add to that a little bit, taking into consideration new product testing and production for inventory. If you stock up on these items now, you will save yourself time and shipping costs by ordering as-needed throughout the year.