Could 2016 have gone better for you? Now is the time to make 2017 more successful. While you may have already heard about some of the tips below, and may have already implemented some of them, what is the harm in revisiting them or trying a new approach?
Review your business plan
Not to be repetitive of some of our previous blogs, but one of the keys to the success of your business is in the planning. You most likely made a business plan before starting your business, and so far it has served you well. Remember that a business plan is vital for the success of a start-up business. Some of the reasons include testing the viability of the business idea as well as securing debt or equity financing. But it also helps to establish the market of the business and how to reach that market. So take some time to review and update your business plan to find what has worked and what needs to be addressed, so you can focus on those goals and not be throwing resources at issues do not need to be fixed. Even if you haven’t made a business plan, it is never too late to create one.
A good reviewed business plan will help you establish the financial health of your business. Knowing your cash flow projections and the state of you balance sheet will help you determine ways to make your business more profitable by increasing sales and/or reducing losses or cutting expenses.
Consider ways to cut costs
Keeping expenses in check is a crucial task for you as a business owner. Never be afraid to use technology to help you keep track of expenses and costs. Quarterly or semi-annual reviews of fixed operating costs such as staffing, office-space costs, office equipment maintenance and other administrative costs are essential. One way to keep costs consistent is by moving your office-space operations into a serviced office business centre. This not only allows you to better budget what you have, but also allows a business to reduce administrative staffing because on-demand secretarial and administrative tasks are offered.
Other costs to review on a regular basis are supply costs of consumable products used by your business. What are you paying for components or supplies needed in the manufacturing of your product or the delivery of your service? Also,be sure to ask your suppliers if there are more cost-effective alternatives or room to re-negotiate. Otherwise, you may want your staff to research other sources or suppliers.
Put your focus on customer service
Gaining customer loyalty is key to customer retention. Delivering good customer service is the first step in keeping customers loyal. It is your job as a business owner to ensure that you have good customer-service policies and that your staff are adhering to those policies. Get the assistance of your staff when reviewing your customer service policies and challenges. Your staff on the front line are not just the ones dealing with customers; they are the ones who see the problems with your policies. You want to make providing service superior to that of your direct competitors, while making sure that your customers know this.
Part of customer service is turning your customers into ambassadors. In this digital age, many consumers look to the internet for reviews of not just products, but also the companies who deliver them. In other words, the web is the new way that people get their ‘word-of-mouth’ about a business. Unfortunately, people who have had bad customer service are more likely to go the web to post negative reviews, than are people who were happy and did not need a reason to go to the web to post a review. In order to improve your positive public reviews on the web, ask customers who are happy with the service you are delivering to post a good review.
Review and expand your marketing efforts
What marketing strategies have been working and what has not been as effective? By stopping the spending on less effective efforts, resources can be shifted to new marketing tools. In your search for new marketing tools, do not be afraid to see what is working for your competitors or others in similar industries.
Having a website is no longer a luxury for a business; it is a necessity. Review your website and compare it to those of your competitors – and learn about the latest website technology, trends and platforms. You may want to consider targeted online search advertising such as Google Ad Words and other contextual advertising platforms. The better you target your customers, the less the cost of customer acquisition.
Online advertising is not the only way that you can promote your business on the Internet. Social media can also be a way to get your product known and to get interaction from existing customers and potential new customers. Many of the people who are reading this blog have found this article because of social media links on posts and pages. So create page on Facebook, LinkedIn and Google Plus.
The health of your business is affected by your own personal health
Again, as we have said in our other small-business advice blogs, too many business owners sacrifice their mental and physical health in pursuit of their business goals while keeping up with daily demands. Stress is not just one of the biggest killers of business, but it is also the killer of businesses due to overworked owners who neglect their own health. So make sure that you take care of yourself first, so you can take care of your business as well.