The kids have dreaded this day, while parents celebrate its return: back-to-school time. While the school bell rings for the children and work bell chimes for the adults--particularly for those who might want to launch their own businesses.

With September upon us, it is time for the entrepreneurs to go to school. This is the time when the small business owners can assess what they need to study and accomplish in order to rise to the head of the class.

Here is a brief quiz:

What are your business strengths?
All businesses have strengths--and we hate to admit--weaknesses. So when it comes to running your operation, focus on the factor that best generates business. As an example, Helen Ling, owner of a gift shop called Enchantments that specializes in jewelry and other items hand-made by skilled artisans, uses the calendar to promote different gift items. In May, she features Mother's Day gift ideas, in June, the focus is on brides. Naturally, the holiday gift season looms large.

What areas can you improve?
Even if business is booming this year, there are always areas to improve. For an example, check in on your advertising rates. Research ways in which you could better market your business to generate more business. Determine if you are using social media enough.

Efficiency often slows during the summer months. Now is the time to ramp things up again. Russ Lomuscio, a certified financial advisor with Northeast Planning Corporation, says that he looks forward to being able to meet with more small business owner clients to review their plans. With the peak vacation season over, scheduling meetings should be easier for every type of business.

How can you operate more efficiently?
Look at how your business is running and find out systems that can be streamlined through technology. For instance, accounting software helps business owners more easily keep their books. If you still struggle with this important part of operating a company, now is the time to consider turning the task over to someone else and then focusing on the business activities in which you excel.

Write down the areas you are in need of improvement. This will be an enlightening homework assignment.

How much financing is required to promote growth?
If you want to add a second location to your company, determine how much that expansion will cost--and then borrow enough money to cover the inevitable bums in the road. If you need a small business loan to expand, understand how much is required so that you are not returning to the bank in a few months to ask for more money.

Now that your quiz has been completed, you are ready for the true test: putting the ideas into action to grow your business.

Published on: Sep 2, 2014