With only a month and a half left in 2016, there is still things you can do before years end that will help to grow your business in 2017.
Most small business owners feel that they can not afford to lose a customer, but what if that customer is taking up most of your time or that of your staff (without paying more than other clients)? It might be time to fire those clients or customers whose business only causes daily stress to you and your team, this could free up more time for new customers who are less demanding and easier to deal with.
While you are firing bad customers who are time wasters, you want to take that time and concentrate on reaching out to new prospects. You will be surprised how many customers you can get by cultivating your list of prospects on a regular basis, because to really grow your business, you need to add new clients on a regular basis.
Before the year ends, consider what new markets you want to expand your business to. Once you formulate a strategy for entering a new regional area or sector of the industry, prepare to launch that strategy with boots on the ground come the new year. Even if you can get one new customer that is outside your current market strategy in the first few months of the new year, you could find that you will get other leads and referrals from that one new client. Take that step that could turn into a leap for your business.
When was the last time you physically shook hands with your top or potentially top customers? If you have a few clients in a distant city, plan to meet several of them on a single trip, you will be surprised at the power of an in person meeting where you have made the travel to visit them. Instead of thanking large clients with a Christmas gift that is sent by courier, show them that you truly value their business by delivering it yourself.
The best way to keep up with what is going on in your industry is to attend conferences and trade shows. Often small business owners do not see the direct benefits of these types of events and forgo attending, but what they are missing out on can greatly help them to expand their business and their business contacts. You would be surprised to know what you can learn from someone you see as a competitor, but they do not see you as direct competition to their business.
If you have less than 10 or 15 employees that work out of your office, you could save a great deal of office management expenses and capital costs by locating your business in a serviced office space. Often referred to as executive offices, serviced offices or business centres, these types of office situations relieve you of having to deal with managing your office and the things you deal with on a daily basis. At an office business centre, you do not have to worry about office furniture, office equipment (such as photocopiers or fax machines), paying full time for meeting space that is not always in use or hiring a receptionist to answer your calls and direct them to the appropriate person or department. Not having to manage your office means that you have more time to concentrate on developing new customers and servicing existing ones.
Using a business centre does free you of hiring a receptionist, but what other tasks can you outsource? Firstly, a business centre can offer you secretarial services to handle mundane tasks that take you away from handling your core business responsibilities, but they can also introduce you to other office clients that offer services that you need and would rather outsource than try to train staff to do. This will allow you to hire staff for their unique skill set and not as general knowledge employees.
What are you doing outside of your office time? Is there a hobby or group event that you have been meaning to get involved with? You need to set time aside each week to pursue things that make you happy and takes the stress away from the work you do. Not only will spending a few hours a week of stress free enjoyment help you not to burn out, a group activity might even introduce you to new contacts to your network or even get you some leads on new potential customers without trying.
The end of the year can also be a time to evaluate the online presence of your company beyond just your company website. These days having a website is just not enough, you need to be actively participating with social media. Facebook, Google+ pages and communities, LinkedIn and other popular sites are where your next clients and customers are getting their information, you need to be adding your content for them to see. Participating in online communities will not only give you more potential exposure to your customers, it can also have indirect affects on how your website ranks on search engines.
As the calendar year starts to come to an end, take this time to make sure that you have your goals and expectations set up and in place for the coming year.