As the New Year rolls in, many people are making resolutions— promises to live a healthier lifestyle, lose a certain number of pounds, follow a clean diet, travel somewhere new, or achieve a career goal. The New Year is a great time to start thinking about some fresh goals for your small business as well. Here are some ideas to help you get started with your own list of business-related resolutions for the coming year.
Resolution #1. Gain an Advantage Over the Competition
Are you having trouble getting the edge on your competitors? It’s time to take a fresh approach. Find some aspect of your business that makes you special, different, and better— then capitalize on that specific feature. Make it the focus of your advertising during the New Year. If you cannot figure out what makes your product or service unique or better than that of your competitors, consider adding something new or tweaking an existing service to take it over the top.
Resolution #2. Listen to Your Customers
Maybe you already have a system in place through which your customers can offer you feedback by email or through social media. How seriously do you take the messages, calls, and comments that come in? Do you read them all? Do some of them have a specific complaint or compliment in common? During the New Year, create a five-question survey for your customers and find out what they’re thinking. Ask them what you can do better. Once you gather the information, hire someone to consolidate and interpret it for you so that you can more effectively reach your customer base and your target market.
Resolution #3. Consider Updating Your Payment Options
In December of 2016, DigitalTrends.com reported a 35% adoption rate for Apple Pay in retail stores throughout the United States. Other contactless pay services are ramping up as well. Consider whether or not it is in your company’s best interests to supply a contactless pay or mobile pay option for your clientele. This depends largely on the demographic that you serve and the type of product or service you supply; but it’s worth considering, especially if you’re looking for something to give you an edge in your target market.
Resolution #4. Look Ahead for Potential Cash Flow Issues
Take a look at the realities and challenges that you faced last year. When was your cash flow at its lowest point? Was there a specific season when business was booming? Explore those ups and downs and figure out how you can manage your cash flow more effectively during the coming year.
Resolution #5. Develop a Marketing Plan
Even though you may not be able to support a full marketing team, you should have a marketing strategy mapped out for the year. Decide when your big campaigns will occur, where you will advertise with print ads, and what sort of message you want to send via social media at different times of the year. For example, if your business does landscaping, you’ll be marketing specific services during the spring and others during the fall. In the winter, you could blog about protecting trees and shrubs from harsh weather, while a summer Facebook post could focus on the water needs of lawns and gardens. Sketch out a plan at the beginning of the year, and you won’t find yourself scrambling for marketing content later on.
Resolution #6. Save on Digital Storage
Cloud storage has become much safer and more popular with businesses over the past decade. If you want to compete with bigger businesses, but you lack the digital storage capacity and IT infrastructure to do so, consider using some cloud-hosted software and cloud-based storage. You may even be able to move your entire network to the cloud, eliminating some of the expense of keeping the physical hardware on-site. Just be sure that you use a well-known, reputable cloud service with ample security measures in place.
Resolution #7. Love Your Customers
Your customers are the ones that keep your business’s lights on and keep those profits rolling in. Show your appreciation throughout the year with small freebies, discounts, or giveaways. You could even develop a customer loyalty program or a rewards program that gives additional bonuses to frequent customers. Always remember to send a thank-you email to your customers after they make a purchase or hire you for a specific service.
Customize these seven resolutions to your business, or come up with some new ones of your own. With a little forethought and planning, you can make this coming year a time of success and growth for your business.