Today’s guest post is from Ivan Serrano, a freelance writer.

As the new year looms larger on the horizon, and the process of closing the books on the past year starts consuming resources and mind-share, it’s also necessary to make some time to take a step back and focus on what you should be doing differently in the coming year. Surely, there were some lessons learned this past year, and it seems that the economy is improving. Many small business owners are casting about, looking for tips on how to capitalize on the momentum that seems to be driving economic growth.

The best financial tips and techniques for the new year are not the nuances of accounting, bookkeeping, ledgers, budgets, invoices, collections and conversions. The best tips for the new year are strategic rather than tactical.

It’s often easy to get so involved with the details of day-to-day struggles that we lose sight of the bigger picture. Getting ready for a new year should involve more than a budget and a financial forecast. Now is the time to step back and bring the strategic perspective into sharper focus.

With that in mind, here are the top two financial tips for small businesses to keep in mind as we enter 2015.

Have A Growth Plan

Knowing how much you want to grow next year is one thing – knowing how you’re going to do it is another thing entirely. Many small businesses know how much they want to spend on growth in the new year, and maybe even which quarter the investment should take place, but they don’t really know what should happen between now and then.

Keeping those growth plans on track need not be an exhaustive planning process, but there does need to be some kind of plan to measure progress against. Here is a simple, high-level planning process that is extremely useful.

Step 1. Take a few minutes to write down all the major milestones that need to be met in order to achieve your growth objective. Don’t bother with the details yet, just the major milestones.

Step 2. Take out your calendar and assign a date to each milestone.

Step 3. Review the calendar and make sure you are comfortable that the milestones can be achieved in the timeframe allotted. Be generous. You know things take longer than originally expected and you’ve got to leave some slack for the unexpected. Two to three times more time than you think you should need is usually a good rule of thumb. On the other hand, if you think you have the discipline to fast-track, go for it.

Step 4. For the first milestone only, write down the tasks that need to be accomplished and who will be accomplishing them. Keep in mind that these people also have full-time jobs to do as well. If you find your name on more than a quarter of the tasks that need to be done, you’ve got a lousy plan. Go back to Step 1. Do the same for each subsequent milestone as each milestone is achieved.

Have A Disaster-Recovery Plan

Every small business leader knows that growth entails risk and that hope is not really an effective strategy. If you haven’t had to learn this lesson the hard way, consider yourself fortunate. You’ve simply got to have some sort of plan for disaster recovery.

Think about your worst-case scenarios and decide how you will handle them realistically. Chances are, they will never happen, but if they do, you’ll be just a little bit more ready, and have a better chance of surviving them and still meeting your growth goals.

This type of thinking will also give you more confidence in smaller crises.

Starting the new year with a greater emphasis on the bigger picture will do more to ensure growth than daily delving into the details. The devil may live in the details, but development lives in delegation. Growth means change, and change won’t happen without leadership. From a purely financial perspective, if you really want your business to grow, you’ve got to lead it. This means working on the business, not being consumed by the day-to-day minutia.

Ivan Serrano is a freelance journalist with a focus on social media, marketing and business.

Tips For Small Business To Keep In Mind As We Enter 2015

by Banker & Tradesman time to read: 3 min