With 2014 drawing to a close and the thought of starting work again in 2015, many small businesses struggle with setting resolutions for a new year. This doesn’t have to be a daunting prospect and by following our top ten tips below, 2015 could easily be the best ever for your business!
Look at what worked
Take a look back over the successes you have experienced in 2014. It’s important to acknowledge what may not have been successful, but be realistic and learn from the valuable experiences. Focus on refining the successes, whether that might have been a marketing tactic that worked well, a new way of training staff, a more efficient way of handling stock or using a new feature on your customer relationship management software; build upon your experiences and refine the way you run your business.
Take time to look at the financials
Numbers may not be your speciality and for many small business owners, the accounts side of what you do is the most difficult thing to keep on top of, nonetheless, taking stock of the financials is imperative to the success of your business. Make a point to sit down each week or end of month and look over the previous period. Don’t bury your head in the sand, get to grips with monthly and quarterly figures, then once you are more confident look at the year as a whole compared to previous years. Using an online accounting suite such as Xero and find an accountant who can manage your books and specialises in the management of the online accounting software, to make your job even easier.
Set new goals and targets
Based on what you learn from the above, set some financial targets. Look at where your budget has gone and which avenues gave you the best return on investment. This could be something as simple as buying your supplies in larger quantities to get a lower unit price. Re-invest in strategies that worked and had a return to continue the successes you leant from in 2014.
Offer add ons
If you are a services or products based business, offer your customers optional extras. Customers are driven by impulse and if you offer them a little extra with a high perceived value, they will feel they are getting a much better deal. You don’t need to go down the ‘hard sell’ route, but offering extras shows you are a flexible company which ticks another box in their opinion and if they don’t want it this time, they will remember for the future
Talk to your customers
Your customers are the reason you have a business, it makes perfect sense to see what they think about your business and what they like what they feel could improve. Have you thought about sending a quick 5 questions email survey? You can also set up customer feedback survey on your website. Prepare for honesty and once you have the results, focus on what the customer wants, not what you want them to want.
Be honest with your employees
Offer praise, support and more training opportunities to your employees, characteristics of human nature mean we don’t just work for our wages, recognition and contributing to a team ranks high on many employee’s lists of what they want from a job. Equally as important is being able to see those team members that aren’t willing to work hard, it damages morale when there is one employee that unfairly benefits from the success of the other staff members but doesn’t contribute. Recognise who these people are and make some changes ready for the new year.
Know where your audience is looking
You may do all sorts to promote your business, but how do you know what is really working? You may sponsor the local football team, put an advert in the daily paper, or distribute flyers once a month. But how can you tell where your business comes from? Analyse where your leads are generated, are those trade shows paying for themselves or does your local flyer drop still pay for itself? Are you making the most of generating new business from Google, is your social media doing wonders or is word of mouth and personal recommendations generating the best leads? Get a strategy in place to know what works, using unique tracking phone numbers on each advertising campaign is a great place to start and you can start to minimise wasted marketing expenditure.
Be proud to be a small business owner
Go to at least one small business network event and be proud of what you do – try not to think of it as ‘networking’, just an opportunity to chat to people that understand the intricacies of running a small business. This is a great way to meet people that have the same struggles and balancing act, but also some guilt free time away from the business. For many business owners, an evening away from your emails invokes guilt and panic, at least this way you can still benefit the business and socialise. Make sure you take some business cards with you and be open with other people, you may not think you will take much from it, but you could offer some great support and advice to others.
This is probably the most important areas and the hardest thing for a small business owner, but chances are when you set up on your own, you didn’t want to do it all, so don’t. Find somebody with the skills you need and let them handle it. The balance of work, and personal life is forever at tipping point but even if delegating just one task frees you up for a couple of hours a week you can focus your energy on something else.
2015 is the year of brand consistency
Getting a consistent brand image will make your business stand out from the competition and prove to your customers and potential customers that you are the real deal. Having a visually strong brand will reflect in the attitudes of your staff and customers so remind yourself of your company’s values and mission statement and create your visuals around it. Most of us are visual learners so why not make the most of this and let your logo do the talking? Use as many platforms as you can to reiterate this message
of quality and consistency – printed headed paper, email signatures, social media headers, your website, vehicles and invoices will all create a consistent brand message. Customers chose confidence, so show them you know who you are!
If you would like help finding your brand’s identity or increasing your presence online – we can help!
We have helped many small businesses establish themselves through great websites, innovative content publishing and inbound marketing strategies, social media and email marketing campaign management. We can even help you create a continuous brand image cross platforms, from your logo to business cards, website to social media.