As a small business owner, this is the perfect time of year to reflect on the accomplishments of 2015 and plan for the year ahead. As humans, we’re continually looking to improve and advance. Whether it’s trying to eat better, to quit smoking once and for all, to spend less money, or to spend more time with family and friends, we formally or informally create our own goals. In this light, I’ve assembled a basic but important top 10 New Year’s resolutions for the small business owner.
- I will stop complaining about the bad economy.
This country is still staggering out of the Great Recession. Face the fact that this is the “new normal”. There are definitely more than a few new prospects that can help grow your business this year. While complaining doesn’t help find them, offering solutions to solve their problems does. During better economic times, customers do buy “vitamins” (i.e. nice to haves). In tough times, find your customers’ pain by surveying them in January and asking where your business can help the most. Focus on selling what customers actually want, not what you think they need.
- Refresh your Online Strategy.
Firstly, if you have not already done so Go Mobile, more Internet users will access the web through mobile devices than through PCs. On average, 15% of all searches on Google today are from a mobile device. How well are you catering to this mobile population. Refresh your website. In the race to master new social media tools, don’t overlook your own website and finally invest in one new customer touch point. Whether it’s blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, mobile coupons or QR codes, new ways to connect with customers seem to pop up daily. As a small business owner, you don’t have to excel in every new technology or network that comes along, but you should try to be wherever your customers are. Ask your current customers where/how they’d like to connect with you, then spend some time in 2016 to make it happen
- I will only market to prospects that can actually pay for my product.
Businesses spend a lot of time trying to sell their products to people that do not have the money to buy. We waste a lot of time on these “Mr. Maybes” (prospects that show inconsistent interest). Separate out the “tire kickers” from the buyers by determining the customer’s budget, decision makers, and timeframe for their purchase. You want customers to support the concept of small business, right? This means you should adopt a small business mind-set at your own business too. Analyse your current vendors and service providers for opportunities to “downsize.” If you find any opportunities to support a small business instead, whether virtual or brick and mortar, aim to switch at least one vendor or supplier.
- I will not lower my price to substitute a real marketing strategy.
Have the confidence in what your company sells not to lower your price in an effort to win business. Focus on prospects that value the pain your company solves for them. Leave the price wars to your competitors.
- I will meet with customers and vendors face to face and go Local.
Stop relying on email and the phone as an exclusive way to talk with customers. Even in a social media world, deep and long lasting business relationships are still built in Real Life. Its also important to think local. Mobile users are constantly interacting with things and places that physically surround them. Microsoft reported that 53% of mobile searches on Bing have a local intent. The online world has become an essential place for businesses to connect with their local community. Make sure your business has a local listing on key search engines: Google Places, Bing maps, and Yahoo maps.
- I will invest in me and learn at least one new skill.
“Old dogs can learn new tricks.” We invest in training for many of our employees. This is the year to look at becoming proficient in an area where you are bad or very afraid. As an entrepreneur, remember that you’re solely responsible for your own motivation, productivity and well-being. There’s no boss to pat you on the back or give you a raise. It’s up to you to keep yourself motivated and inspired. In 2016 be sure to reward yourself for specific milestones like a big client win, meeting a tough deadline, or working “overtime” for multiple nights on end.
- I will understand my businesses financial statements each month.
Many business owners are too busy to check or don’t understand their financial statements. Make a commitment to learn what the profit and loss, balance sheet and cash flow statements mean to your business and use them as a guide for future action. Do not delegate that understanding to your bookkeeper, CFO or accounting professional. Start fresh in 2016 by organizing your books from day one (even if that means outsourcing your accounting).
- Think about exporting
Government is initiating a campaign “exporting is great” helping small business access the export market. Take advantage of these. You have the advantage of less overhead therefore are able to price competitively.
- Find the best mentors. Nothing wrong in asking for help.
Many business owners are busy running the business and that’s what they are good at. You don’t need to be ashamed of asking for help from specialist be it Finance, Logistics or Technology. Find some one local who you can meet and talk. Don’t rely on solely on online.
- I will be proud to be a small business owner.
Celebrate the big achievement of creating a company, helping your customers and employees through it. You are the future of this country.