New Year’s Resolutions for Small Businesses

A new year means a new you – or so we’re told! Leaving one year behind and entering a new one gives you the perfect opportunity for a fresh start, and so we burden ourselves with resolutions.

Save money, lose weight, learn a new language; we make all kinds of promises to ourselves in the hope of self-betterment.

We know that most resolutions are impossible to keep, with almost two thirds of Brits admitting to giving up before January’s out. Instead of feigned enthusiasm for cutting down on sugar or empty promises of visiting the gym three times a week, how about focusing your energy on professional pursuits in 2017? Here are the resolutions we think are essential for small-business owners to make (and keep) this year in order to give business a boost.

Be more active

Many resolutions revolve around losing weight, eating more healthily or leading a more active lifestyle. While shifting a few pounds might not help your business, becoming more active is something all business owners should strive for – and we don’t mean going for a run.

As the internet grows, it’s becoming increasingly easy for you to make your business more discoverable. If, on the other hand, you fail to nurture an online presence, your business could get buried by any competitors who are utilising it more effectively.

Becoming more active online and building visibility are vital when it comes to creating awareness of your brand. As a business owner, you should be actively marketing your company where your target audience can be found – giving you the opportunity to make new connections and create trust in your name within your industry.

The wealth of information online gives people endless choice when it comes to choosing businesses to work with or buy from. It can be easy to dismiss digital marketing and social media, but in order for your company to keep up with the modern consumer, it’s important to establish and maintain your presence on the same channels they’re using.

Meet new people

This comes hand-in-hand with being more active, and will give you more exposure to prospective customers, future business partners and the industry as a whole. Building your network – both professionally and personally – allows you to target more people, lets them know about you and your brand, and gives you an insight into what else is happening in your field. With over 1.59 billion users registered on Facebook alone, connecting with relevant people is easier than ever.

If your target customers are amongst the few who aren’t somewhere online, you need to get out and meet them face-to-face at local or industry events. Meeting new people wherever they are gives you the opportunity to promote your business, your services and your insights. Networking with different circles will also introduce you to new ideas; in fact, you might even…

… Learn something new

Getting to know new people means learning about their ideas. Experienced businesspeople and fresh faces in your industry can help you develop a greater understanding of your field. As the business world constantly evolves to keep up with changing technologies and attitudes, it’s essential for you to be in the know.

In the words of Dr Seuss, “the more you learn, the more places you’ll go.” How does this apply to business owners? Well, engaging your mind will help to keep it sharp and creative, enabling you to “go” further. As a business owner, creativity can give you the greatest competitive edge when it comes to promoting your business and developing new products.

You never know where your next idea will come from, but learning from others – in order to expose you to new points of view – will only boost your brain power.

Delegate and outsource

If you want a job doing properly, you should just do it yourself, right? How about when you’re really busy and could do with passing a couple of jobs off onto someone else? Delegating tasks to competent members of your team eases your workload so that you can put more energy into the really important tasks and avoid micromanaging your team.

As your business grows, you should train your employees to take over some of the jobs you’ve become used to doing yourself. It can be hard to let go of the little tasks, especially if you’ve built your business from the ground up, but it’s something you’ll need to do eventually. Though it may seem like a waste of time to train someone to do something you can already do with your eyes closed, preparing them to pick up jobs that eat into your productivity will take a load off your shoulders.

Increasing interest in your business is great news, but if you’ve got no-one to answer the phone or respond to emails, you could be hemorrhaging business. Naturally, growth leads to more exposure and enquiries into your business, but who’s there to pick up calls, make appointments and discuss sales with potential clients?

For many small organisations working with tight budgets, hiring full-time PAs or secretaries just isn’t an option. As a result of this, outsourcing is becoming an attractive option for many small-business owners. Outsourcing call-answering and helpdesk or PA services takes the pressure off you without incurring the cost of another employee.

Get organised and plan ahead

While unforeseen circumstances may arise throughout the year, looking ahead and preparing for the things you know to expect is key to successfully planning your business year, all the way from finances to operations.

Use patterns from previous years to predict where and when costs and labour will fluctuate; this will help you put some ideas in place for what to do when unexpected busy periods or promotions occur. Knowing that you’re prepared for whatever the year throws your way will make it that little bit less stressful when you need to act at short notice.

If you’re not very good at keeping on top of finances, keep key dates for the financial year in your calendar; this will prevent any nasty surprises when it’s time to sort out your taxes. Keeping on top of your P&L on a weekly basis will make paperwork admin a far quicker and easier task, and can be simplified even further by using an app.

Apps like Wave will help you track and manage payments, invoices and expenses – making sure you’ve got all the figures you need, right in the palm of your hand.

Keep your resolutions

We all know that making resolutions is the easy bit – it’s keeping them that poses a challenge. Whenever you decide to make resolutions is the time to start keeping them. Waiting for New Year’s Day, the first day back at work, or the start of the following month is simply putting off changes you could be implementing right now.

While the new year is the perfect opportunity to look back over one year and go into another with a fresh start, you can start doing better in business whenever you choose to.

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