Tips for Starting the New Year as a Small Business Owner
As the year comes to a close, small business owners are wrapping up projects, calculating holiday bonuses, and, hopefully, scheduling some vacation time. Whether the year was a great success or a series of ups and downs, you are probably working hard to end the year on a good note. In that case, you might not have had a chance to look toward the new year. Here are some tips to help start the new year with your business on the right track.
Focus On Your Digital Brand
It might sound like a broken record by now, but digital marketing becomes more relevant each year. Your business should have a digital presence, whether that looks like a website, an online store, or social media. A strong digital infrastructure will allow you to connect with your customers in multiple ways. Use what you know about your target audience to determine where to grow your digital presence. Build a social media strategy for the upcoming year, including determining how much time and resources to allocate toward social marketing. Your overall digital strategy might change throughout the year, but having a direction will help you to start off strong in your efforts.
If your website has not been updated in a while, it is a good idea to evaluate its user-friendliness and effectiveness. You might rearrange the navigation bar to help visitors find important pages faster. Maybe some headlines or paragraph copy can be updated to be more specific or to help improve your SEO ranking. Avoid making too many big changes to your website as this can cause confusion for your customers. Test out small adjustments or even show your renovated site to a focus group before rolling out the new look.
Bring in New Technology
When you are caught up in day-to-day operations, it is easy to overlook the state of your technology. Before jumping into the fast pace of a new year, run thorough equipment and hardware checks to make sure everything is working in top condition. If the wear and tear of the past year has vital equipment running behind quota, it might be time for maintenance or replacements.
Old technology can slow down business growth, so it is beneficial to research new tools and software. Update your computer software and get the latest installations to make sure your programs are compatible with your devices and are free of bugs and glitches. Identify areas of improvement in your operations and consider whether investing in new technology can boost your business.
Reassess Your Financial Goals
The beginning of a new year is a good time to look back on the previous year and see how you either met or fell short of your financial goals. If certain ventures did not work out like you expected, sometimes it is better for business to cut your losses. Focus on the strengths of your business and turn your resources toward growing in those areas. Depending on how your year went, you might be feeling confident to take more risks in the new year. Reviewing your budget and identifying where you can cut back on expenses can free up resources to put toward new ventures.
Review Vendors and Services
A business should review their vendors and services periodically. This is a good thing to do while you are already reviewing your budget. Weigh the value of these contracts against the cost and decide if it would be beneficial to continue using that vendor or service for another year. Start researching alternatives and requesting quotes now. Determine if there are services you are using that you are better off handling in-house. Or vice versa, consider which internal processes can be outsourced to help boost efficiency.
Thank Your Employees
Whether you have a few employees or a hundred people on your payroll, showing your appreciation for their hard work is a great way to keep morale high heading into a new year. If an employee did outstanding work or made the workplace better for others, do not make the mistake of beginning the new year without giving them recognition. Ask for your employees’ input when setting goals for the next year. Regardless of the size of the company, involving your people in choosing the direction of the business will give them a sense of ownership in their work, and you will see higher employee engagement as a result.
Give Yourself Credit
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 20% of small businesses fail in the first two years of operating. That percentage doubles before the five-year mark of a business being open. The fact that your business is operating at the start of a new year is a sign that you are doing something right. Small businesses face many challenges and managing to stay on course is an accomplishment you should be proud of.
Ring in the new year by leaving any struggles and failures of last year behind. You will feel more prepared for what lies ahead if you make sure to wrap up unfinished jobs and evaluate the state of your business from every angle. Keep your entrepreneurial spirits up when you have to abandon failed ventures in order to pursue new opportunities. Remember that you cannot control what a new year will bring, but you can control what you bring into the new year.
PlainsCapital Bank helps businesses keep momentum heading into a new year. Visit our website to learn about our full suite of business products and services.