New year, new you. It may be a cliché, but we all want to gather a chunky set of lessons from 2014 to apply in 2015. We’ve spoken to fellow successful entrepreneurs and marketing professionals to get some insights, and walk you through the key resolutions that will help grow your small business in the new year.
1. Review 2014
You need to be in absolute sync with your business. Analyse your actions and results, and identify what has worked and what hasn’t. Find the good, – so that it can be implemented again – and find the reasons for mishaps so they can be avoided. Avoid the mistake even big businesses often make, and don’t discontinue a popular product.
Look for services that have been proven successful, can you add anything to them and make them even better? Can you create a complementary product?
2. Financial health
It’s fundamental to assess your finances in order to prepare for the coming year’s challenges. To maintain a healthy financial balance you should first and foremost aim for profit. Breakeven should only be the worst case scenario. A few great guidelines are the following:
– Reserve a percentage for unexpected expenses, so you don’t get caught off guard. If you’re lucky to not need that percentage in the end, then it can be further used in an investment.
– Production costs are often hard to minimise in both small and big businesses. If this rings a bell to you, then focus on the admin costs, analyse them and aim to keep them as low as possible.
– You may also want to consider making an appointment with a financial adviser, to get more detailed guidance, according to the current context of your business.
3. Set realistic short-term goals and ‘unrealistic’ long-term goals…
…and by unrealistic, I actually mean optimistic. If you want business growth, then you must take some risks. They will serve as a motive for you to work harder and achieve more. Just make sure all your goals are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
Use a calendar to map out 2015 month by month, taking into account business objectives, and important dates such as holidays and seasons. It will help you stay organised, anticipate, and visualise what your next steps need to be.
4. Technological changes
You might have noticed that digital is here to stay, so it’s a good idea to stay up to date with the changes in technology, and adapt your business accordingly.
One prediction is that the popularity of smart phones will increase in 2015, so ensure your website and marketing emails are mobile friendly. Get feedback from your customers and team members, and look for a pattern in their answers; perhaps there are issues on the aesthetics or functionality that your eyes didn’t catch before.
Good rules of thumb are: keep content short and straight-forward, typefaces consistent and purposeful, and links clickable.
5. Company culture
In terms of company culture, you want to build on the positive values you’ve initially created, so be consistent. What are the pillars of your business? How can you emphasise them for more positive results? Be sure you’re fostering an environment with rewards, encouragement, and healthy relationships, so your business can be stronger in the new year.
Also, let your target market know about your company’s positive culture, but don’t force it on them. The right way is to convey culture subtly, through social media, website, events etc. Look for brands with excellent cultures, and have their actions as benchmarks.