Putting a timeline on business goals early is the best way to hit targets, a small business industry head says.

Whether it's plans to increase revenue, introduce a new product, better manage compliance costs or reorganise operational structure, the start of the year is a great time to put processes in place to set yourself up for a successful year ahead.

MYOB New Zealand general manager Carolyn Luey said setting achievable goals at the start of each year was a great way to think about what you want to accomplish over the course of the coming year.

"To start, you want to write them down on paper. You need to know your destination before you try and get there, so this step is essential," Luey said.


"You're also more likely to achieve your goals if you make a written declaration of what it is you want to achieve."

Here are MYOB's six New Year's resolutions for business owners wanting to get the most out of the New Year:

Review your business plan

If you have a business plan from the previous year, review what you did and didn't achieve – this way you'll be able to see how far – or how little – your business has come since last January.

It will also motivate you to work harder and highlights where you may have set unrealistic goals in the past.

Get to know your competitors

According to MYOB's Business Monitor survey of more than 1000 small and medium businesses across the country, only 10 per cent of businesses conducted market research between February 2016 and 2017.

Spend time looking at both direct and indirect competitors – how they market their products and services, how they differ to you and where their strengths and weaknesses lie. After that, look at your own strengths and weaknesses and look for ways to improve your marketing strategy or products and services.

Take control of your cash flow

Cash flow puts a lot of pressure on almost one in five small businesses, according to the survey. The best way to relieve this pressure is to take control of your finances and look at ways to reduce spending.

Before you dive into the new year, project your yearly cash flow and identify times where you might be low on cash. This way, you can plan ahead and not have to stress about paying employees or paying off debt.

It's also really important to make sure you're being paid. New Zealanders can be modest and we don't always like to ask for things directly, especially money. However, being paid on time will ensure a steady cash flow – so set aside some time each week, fortnight or month to follow up any unpaid work.

Invest in research and development

One in five businesses conducted employee training between February 2016 and 2017 – but only 2 per cent applied for government R&D funding. This year, particularly with new R&D policies, take advantage of government initiatives and spend some time and money on developing your skills.

Embrace new technology

Technology continues to change business operations in a massive way, so if you haven't already, do some research and find the latest tech trends that might be disrupting your industry over the next few years.

Business technology and software is there to support your business, making life easier by increasing productivity, reducing costs and saving time.

Take a well-deserved holiday

One in five business owners took less than one week holiday in a 12-month period, according to its Business Monitor survey. You might be busy, and running a business may take up a lot of your time, but having periods of rest are important to your health and will keep you refreshed.