New year resolutions for your business in 2018
Lots of us are familiar with making personal resolutions at the start of a new year after a season of excess. Whether it be giving up alcohol, doing more exercise or going to bed earlier, we’re accustomed to reviewing our lives and making changes at this time of year. Even if we don’t stick to specific resolutions all year round (surveys suggest that 80% have been broken by February!), the process of reflecting on the past and planning for the year ahead can be both cathartic and valuable for getting us back on an even keel.
Believe it or not, the same can be said of your business. January is a perfect time for small business owners to review the past year’s successes and failures and to set new goals for the year to come. We may not achieve them all of course, but taking some time to think about where our businesses have been and where we’re heading is a great way to gain a little perspective, focus and most importantly, motivation.
Here are our top new year’s business resolutions for 2018.
Most small business owners start their ventures because they have a great idea or passion, and many begin working on their own or in a very small team doing the job. As the business expands, you will need to spend less time doing the hands-on work and much more time managing the business. You will need new and wide-ranging skills. If you plan well, you can train personnel or hire contract staff so that you can delegate more of the day-to-day doing to free up your time for managing, and growing your business. Don’t try to do it all yourself! Your business will function much more efficiently with properly trained staff performing specific roles and you overseeing the wider operation.
Sort out your cash-flow
Problems with cash flow have been the death-knell of many a new and small business. Getting your cash-flow stabilised is key for business growth and peace of mind. Here are our tips:
Set targets and revisit them regularly.
Agree clear payment terms and invoice very promptly.
Use technology – accounting software and cloud-based accounting can ease the burden when managing cash-flow.
Institute payment arrangements using direct debit where possible to stabilise cash inflow.
Make payments for your customers and clients as quick and easy as possible using online payment systems for example.
Build your brand
If your business has grown organically, you may not yet have had the time (or inclination) to think about it as a brand. But having a core image and identity, a set of values and a narrative to tell your audience is key for gaining customer loyalty. Spend some time building your brand and story this year. It will help you to focus on a target market and direct your marketing and business development efforts.
Step up your marketing and online presence
Again, many small businesses start and initially grow organically, with referrals and through word of mouth. This is great of course, and a brilliant sign of a thriving business. To really get business growth though, get your branded online presence up and running. Make sure your website is fit for purpose and optimised for mobile usage. Get going on social media, get posting regular good quality content (this was our New Year resolution last year!) and grow your emailing list. You may not see direct sales immediately, but potential clients will search for social proof before choosing you. The more they see of you interacting online, the more likely they are to remember you.
People are social animals and personal networking is often the most effective way of developing valuable business connections – especially for local businesses. Join local business groups (Brighton Chamber, Wired Sussex, Agency Collective, Agency Hackers, and BIMA are a few of our personal favourites). Offer up your skills for giving talks or workshops to get yourself known – and don’t forget to follow up new contacts after events.
Volunteer or collaborate with a charity
Giving something back to the community can be brilliantly rewarding for local small businesses, both personally and professionally. It fosters goodwill, gets your name out there and is a great feel-good motivator for employees. Find a charity that fits your brand values and it’ll be win-win for both business and charity.
Sort out your work-life balance
Finally, and most importantly, if you’re running your own business, the temptation is to throw yourself and everything else into it to make it work. Perhaps you work 12 hours a day to get the job done, or avoid taking time-off or going on holiday because you think you can’t afford to be away from the business. All small business owners will recognise this stress and conflict of balancing work and family life (I know I do!). However – I have come to believe that it is vital for your own health and that of the business to achieve a more balanced lifestyle. If you are overworked and stressed you are much less productive and relaxation time can give you an invaluable sense of clarity and perspective. If you need an extra pair of hands to help you, don’t struggle on alone. Be kind to yourself in 2018 – your business (and family) will thank you for it!
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