As the calendar flips over to a new year, small to medium-sized businesses are looking toward the future.
But don’t leave your company’s growth and success to chance. Take a bit of time to review what worked in 2019 and what didn’t. Building on strengths and looking for solutions can help ensure the coming year will be as prosperous and successful as possible.
Resolution 1: Build your brand
Your brand presence in the local and global community can be as valuable as the products and services you provide. Making sure your brand has positive reviews online is critical to attract new customers and top talent.
A quick internet search of your company should net reviews that are affirmative and represent the good you’re trying to achieve.
If you have no internet presence, it’s time to get one. Start with a web page that boosts your brand, but go beyond.
Social media pages that highlight success stories, pride in your workforce, new ideas, and even the fun you have on the job are great ways to boost your products, services, and company culture.
If your internet presence is negative, act quickly. Bad reviews mean lost revenue. Research suggests almost all customers will look to the internet to inform their purchase decisions.
If your company’s image is negative, it’s costing you sales. Bad reviews should be addressed quickly and professionally. Try to resolve any problem a customer encountered and ask them, after it’s resolved, to remove or update the review. If you feel your business has been unfairly panned, there are ways to remove negative reviews and clean up your online reputation.
Feel free to ask customers to post positive reviews, especially when they’ve received a great product or service. The positives can often outweigh any negative comments.
Resolution 2: Upgrade your tech
Are staffers wasting time on tasks that are easily outsourced or automated? Wouldn’t you rather have them doing something more productive that contributes, rather than drains, the bottom line?
As the digital revolution continues, businesses are finding more ways to leverage technology to their advantage. It isn’t just smart, in today’s competitive market, it may be needed for survival.
Look for technology that’s tried and true, then give up the drudgework for better, more productive tasks.
For example …
- Make HR tasks efficient, like onboarding, payroll, and benefits
- Streamline operations
- Automate accounting
Resolution 3: Upskill employees
Adding value to your workers adds value to your business. Whether you’re training them for the digital revolution or developing soft skills, like leadership and communication, the better your able your staff is to face challenges, the better off your business will be.
Look for ways to grow staff members, either in the role they currently hold or another higher up the ladder or even across the hall. The more well-rounded picture they have of the organization, often the better they see themselves as part of the team and part of your success.
Some worry upskilling employees will make them more valuable in the market and more likely to leave. Consider the alternative – staff that doesn’t have as much skill and knowledge as possible to perform. Another minus – employees who aren’t growing at your company may be more likely to move on to a company that has their development in mind.
Resolution 4: Build your network
Growing your business and online presence is a full-time job, but growing your network must be a priority, too. Are there community organizations, business networks, or associations that you can join or become involved with?
Often affiliations with local Chamber of Commerce groups lead to new clients and new business.
Trade associations offer insight into the market, what’s trending in your industry and advice for new and growing organizations.
Why reinvent the wheel when there are resources available?
Look for opportunities to participate in community organizations with support or help. Not only will you have an opportunity to give back to the community, you’ll be building your brand presence in the area.
Companies often find these groups include networks of other business owners dedicated to volunteerism and offering support. Who knows, among these, where your next big client will come?
Resolution 5: Take more risk
When you can, take more risk with your business. Ask your staff members how they would improve on a process, product or service, and if feasible, pilot the change.
Risk-averse businesses stay where they are – which is fine if that’s all you want for your organization. But if you want to grow and expand, you may have to step outside your comfort zone.
No, you shouldn’t put it all on red when you go to Vegas, and you shouldn’t put it all on a risky venture with your business. But small risks, minor modifications or new ideas shouldn’t be taboo. Change is a good thing. Unless you’re currently making or providing the ultimate product or service, it likely can improve in some way. Look for ways to make small changes if you fear taking risks. They may lead to big improvements and even bigger opportunities.
A new year brings new promise for SMBs and their staff. Resolve to make more of 2020 with a few small steps that could mean big leaps for your company.