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3. How are my financials?

At the midyear mark, it’s important to take a look at profits and losses over the first six months — and consider an outside opinion, said Carol Daly, a consultant with the Rock Hill, S.C.-based Winthrop Regional Small Business Development Center.

For a quick, budget-conscious tune-up, consider free resources through local nonprofits and publicly funded business incubators. The Winthrop Regional Small Business Development Center, for example, has a certified financial planner on staff who can sit down with a business owner, quickly run through the finances for the last two to three years, and highlight problem areas and solutions, Daly said.

It’s not an alternative to an in-depth analysis from a business’ financial consultant or CPA who knows the operation intimately, but it’s often beneficial to get fresh eyes and new ideas, Daly said. “We’ve seen some places close … that we’ve all known needed help, that we even tried to reach out and help,” Daly said. “But they always say, ‘Oh no, we’re doing fine. We’ll see it through.’ Then they close up two months later. Had they asked for help sooner, they probably wouldn’t have.”

4. What is my competition doing?

It doesn’t cost any money, but a few simple Internet searches can go a long way toward helping your business better compete in the marketplace, said Dawn Newsome, founder and owner of Moonlight Creative Group, a Charlotte marketing agency that predominantly works with nonprofits.

Start with your own “brand checkup,” Newsome said. Have you gotten any positive or negative press? Are customers talking about your brand? Are they saying what you want them to say?

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