A recent study by the U.S. Small Business Administration,Redefining Business Success, showed that 66 percent of new businesses survive the first two years, only 50 percent survive through four years, and just 40 percent make it to the six year mark. Considering there are over a half million businesses started each month, these statistics might feel alarming. For most businesses, the reasons they go under are similar: failure to plan, inability to communicate, and a lack of management and leadership skills. If you’re looking to safeguard your business in 2017, and want to prepare for success now and in the long term, read on to find three areas for improvement.

Improve your planning

Did you achieve everything you set out to achieve with your plan this year? It may be a good time to revisit and think about how you are going to change and learn from the previous year. Perhaps your plans were overly optimistic or unrealistic and you felt disappointed or disheartened that not everything was achieved; or perhaps you feel that more could have been done and your goals weren’t set high enough; or perhaps you recognize that you didn’t do enough planning and organization to help the business run smoother. Either way, be open to adjustment. Revisit your past plans, and find the balance between realistic and optimistic, structured and flexible. Perhaps engage the help of a trusted friend or mentor who can help you see things more clearly and offer tips for better organization and more valuable planning.

Improve your communication

Communication plays a vital part in successful business strategies. Strategy cannot just be bandied about in the boardroom. It must be shared with management and management must then share it with the team, while the executive level follows through to ensure the plan was understood and shared. Effective communication can help to foster a good working relationship between you and your staff, which can in turn improve morale and efficiency.

Improve your strategic management

In our recent blog post on strategic management software, we discussed leadership and the importance of business management software to make your business a success. Times are changing, and decision making is no longer the responsibility of just one person. The most successful businesses encourage decision making that is a team effort. In order to make this process effective, it is important to implement the right methods, and the New Year is a great time to set the ball rolling in a fresh and exciting way, improving processes, clarifying goals, streamlining projects, and easing tasks.

The New Year creates a great opportunity and reason to revisit past mistakes and successes, and determine what you would like to change and achieve in the upcoming months. It is a time to improve in your communication with co-workers, better align your plans and streamline your strategy. Ask yourself honestly, are you ready for the year ahead? If changes need to be made, there is no time like the present.