Small business owners optimism reaches highest point in a decade regarding financial growth in 2017 according to the Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index. Many businesses expect to hire new employees in the coming year, and close to a third of US small business owners plan to invest in their business over 2019.

Being optimistic about the future of your business provides a good starting point for success, but there are also simple and concrete steps you can take to ensure better financial performance. Here I've listed some basic steps you can take to move your business forward during the next 12 months.

Review Your Recurring Payments

Forgetting to remove former employee salaries may be more common among big businesses and government agencies, but small businesses often lose money to recurring payments for services that they no longer need. Carefully review each automatic recurring bank transaction and remove redundant or unnecessary bank orders. If you have a business credit card that gives you cash back or other rewards for purchases, find out if there is an option to make your recurring payments from that card account to benefit from the rewards.

Offer Employees A Retirement Plan

Providing a retirement plan such as a 401k plan is not only a good way to retain key employees. If you are considering rewarding your staff with retirement plans, be sure to check whether you may be eligible for nonrefundable tax credits towards the cost of implementing each plan. You may also be able to receive tax deductions for the contributions you make to employee plans.

Credit Card Processing Fees

Many small businesses now accept credit cards. Along with the benefits this provides there is also a major drawback that can eat into your profit margins, namely the processing fee. The fees you pay are divided into 2 categories. While the interchange fee is charged by the payment network (Visa, MasterCard) and doesn't allow wiggle room, you may be able to get a reduction on the credit card processing fees charged by your merchant services provider, which is usually a bank. Consider using 2 separate providers so your business doesn't become dependent on rates that may drastically rise if the service provider chooses. Merchant services providers will often be willing to negotiate lower fees rather than losing your business. If they aren't, consider dropping their service in favor of an alternative provider.

Get Rid Of Paper

Calculate the cost of buying paper, printing documents and storing paper archives. Depending on how your business operates the cost can be high. Consider shifting more of your office work to computers and possibly cloud services. Good software solutions are available at a low cost or even free of charge, and may be all you need to handle documents and billing.

Get A Better Business Credit Card

Credit card offerings for business are varied, but good cards for small business will usually provide you with detailed and accessible financial transaction reports and let you set clear limits on employee spending. A rewards credit card can help your business save money by letting you earn cash back, miles or points on purchases made with the card. Unless you fly frequently I recommend cash back cards which give you the option to redeem for statement credit or even as cash into a checking or savings account.

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