Whether you're a small business owner who is entering your 20th year in business or kicking off a grand opening in 2018, a sound financial plan is essential to any business's success and profitability. Here are seven tips to help you achieve your small business financial goals:

1. Manage your debt. Small business owners should always stay on top of their debt. Refinancing or applying the "snowball" strategy—making larger payments toward the debt with the highest interest rate—are solutions to consider, so make an appointment with your accountant or financial advisor.

2. Track your credit. Fostering a good credit score as an individual and a business is imperative for your company's growth. Lenders will look at your personal score when it comes time for possible business ventures, and building business credit can lower insurance premiums or help you get approved for low-rate loans. Assess your payments, loans, and accounts to identify where you can make changes that will bump your score to the next level.

3. Know your options. Are you looking to apply for a new loan or invest in growth financing? U.S. Small Business Administration loan programs are specifically designed for the small business owner, offering longer terms, lower payments, interest rate caps, and flexible repayment plans.

4. Keep personal and business finances separate. Maintaining separate financial plans for your individual and business expenses is crucial for tax planning purposes. The easiest ways to keep these plans separate include opening personal and business checking accounts, getting a business credit card, or establishing your company as an LLC. You'll be grateful you took these extra steps when it's time to file your taxes.

Maintaining separate financial plans for your individual and business expenses is crucial.
5. Have a rainy-day fund. All business owners, no matter the size of their company, should plan for the unexpected with a rainy-day fund. Small business owners (especially those in their first few years of operation) should try to lower their expenses, save more often during high-earning periods, and assess their investment options beyond the stock market.

6. Create a budget for greater return on investment. Keep an eye on your expenses to ensure a greater ROI for your business. By continuously tracking and evaluating your expenses, you'll be able to identify where you can make a change. If you're able to keep your expenses low, you'll realize higher margins and greater returns.

7. Treat yourself as an employee. While retirement may seem far away, small business owners should take great care to plan for the future. Small businesses have a range of retirement plans to choose from, whether they're a partnership, LLC, or corporation. Once it's time to pack up shop, you'll be ready to enjoy a well-planned and well-earned rest.


About the author: Allison Standish-Plimpton is Senior Vice President and Business Banking Team Leader in the Connecticut and Western Massachusetts Market for KeyBank.