2015 small businessAs the economy improves and National Federation of Independent Business’ small business optimism index promotes optimism, there are four things business owners can do to prepare for a financial happy 2015, according to Quick Books:

1. Get customers to pay up. It is important to collect on sales to maintain a healthy cash flow. Send reminders, call and send emails to those customers that haven't yet paid. It may even be advantageous to offer discounts to customers for paying within a given time frame. If none of those methods work, try paying a personal visit. You can also suggest a payment schedule which can make it easier for customers who are unable to make the payment in full.

Last resorts in account collections include involving an attorney and selling the debt to a credit collector. You will only get a portion of the value, but it is better than collecting nothing at all. This is also a good time of year to consider updating your credit policy. This could include changes to the maximum amount customers can credit and requirements - such as background checks - for customers to qualify. You can also choose to accept cash only from customers who are consistently late or unable to catch up with their payments.

2. Pay attention to your cash flow. Remember that you need a regular cash flow to run your business. Ask your customers to pay upfront. You could also offer discounts and other incentives to customers who pay for a year of services in advance. Make adjustments to your billing and payment cycles. Negotiate lower prices and discounts for shorter payment cycles where possible.

Any savings can positively affect your cash flow. Having sales more often can also help to move items and increase the amount of cash coming in. If certain items are not moving, try selling them online or send them back to the supplier.

3. Set your 2015 sales goals. Ensure that the figure is realistic and based on trends and data applicable to your industry. You can work toward your forecast revenue all year or work backwards. Use last year’s sales along with projections to arrive at a sales figure.

Identify what needs to happen for you to reach that target. Put things in place for that happen, and continue working backward until you land on the first milestone you need to reach. From there, you can determine how long it will take to get to each milestone on the way to the final sales goal.

4. Mix things up with your marketing. Ask yourself what you offer your customers. Identify your ideal customers, and determine which ones will be repeat customers - segment the market by focusing on their traits. Identify competitors and seek to understand them. Figure out what you do better than them, and how you can learn from them.

Compare strategies. This will help you to figure out where you will reach potential customers. This could lead to any combination of internet marketing, local marketing and mobile marketing. Determine how you can best use your own website and social media accounts to share content, use links and invest in pay-per-click advertising to reach the right people. To reach people in your community you can sponsor local events, erect signage and partner with other businesses.