As we enter 2016, there is no better time than the present to take stock of your business and figure out how it can be improved. Take time to reflect on how you and the business have fared in 2015, and put your thinking cap on.
All those lingering issues with the business that rattle around your head late at night should come to the forefront now. In addition, what new ideas have you been thinking about but not yet implemented?
Regardless of the type of business, here are five New Year’s resolutions every small business owner should make.
Collect the Money You’re Owed
I’m not sure there’s one thing that makes a greater impact than this when it comes to kicking off your year on the right foot.
Small businesses are notorious for letting their customers slack on paying what they owe. Sometimes this is because the small business simply has a poor (if any) collections process. But other times small businesses are just bashful, and people don’t like to flat out ask for money.
Set aside a block of time each week dedicated to getting the cash owed to you in the door. You’ll see a big impact early in the year and fix any collections problem by end of the year.
Let Go of the Employee That’s Bringing You Down
When you allow a “problem employee” to hang around, it depletes your confidence as a leader. Co-workers get frustrated, and dancing around the issue won’t make the problem go away.
Remember, it’s never worth losing a good employee because a bad one pushes them out. It’s a bad thing for your customers and ultimately your business. Take the New Year as an opportunity to take a good, hard look at employees in your company that may have become a problem, and act accordingly.
Fix the Follow-up Failures in Your Business
Don’t let leads slip through the cracks. Set aside time to get back in contact with customers and partners to get them re-energized and re-engaged with your business.
If you can create new and effective ways to follow up with your customers, you’ll discover that you can sell much more to them. In addition, they will act as advocates for your business.
Test a New Marketing Strategy Every Month
You need time and a little money to accomplish this one, but it’s a great way to learn about what works in your business and what doesn’t. There are tons of ways to test new marketing strategies. You could launch a customer reactivation campaign targeted at those who haven’t purchased your product or service in more than a year.
Other ideas include holding a prospecting or educational event in the office or online, as well as doing some testing in your customer newsletter to see which content generates the most leads. Split your email list in half and send one group a version of a newsletter and another with a slightly different approach to see what converts better. Keep refining your messaging until you get an optimal conversation. Other ideas might be to launch a podcast or social media campaign.
Over the course of the year you’ll gain a lot more clarity into who’s attracted to your business and who’s spending money with you.
Automate What You Can
Make an effort to leverage technology to automate the mundane, daily tasks that sap your time and energy. Examples include collections, new customer welcome communications and lead follow up and nurture.
There’s opportunity for any repetitive workflow in your business to be automated, and the benefits can be huge. Dedicate yourself to investigating technology that can move you toward automation, and you’ll be on your way.
Go into 2016 with the attitude that this year can be the most successful ever for you and your business. It will take plenty of hard work to make that happen, but if you resolve to take the actions I mentioned above, I’m confident that you’ll get there.
Resolution List Photo via Shutterstock
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All great tips, but some of them are definitely “hard” for many people. I use the quotes because while asking for what you’re owed makes sense, people are often fearful of asking for fear of damaging the reputation or general social anxiety. The act is easy, but the doing can be difficult.
I agree, Robert. It amazes me how many business owners are shy about asking for what they’re owed. Sadly, some go out of business as a result of this one flaw.
Letting employees go is easier said than done. Sometimes, you value their loyalty so much that you don’t really care if they are somehow not performing as well as the others.
I’m 100% with you on the ‘testing’ new marketing ideas. We often get stuck with strategies and our own perspectives.
The new year is a good excuse to shake things up!
While most of this content is valid, the notion of testing a new strategy every month is incorrect. Marketing should be led by strategy, which informs tactics and activities – not the other way around.
A far more effective approach is to set your strategic direction and then determine the touchpoints required based on your target markets and market preferences. Identify the online and offline touchpoints that are required and develop messaging that works through this journey.
Marketing is a strategic exercise, it is an excuse to try tactics and hope for the best.
Alex–I agree that the monthly tests should flow out of your overall marketing Strategy. I used “strategies” (with a lower-case “s”) because I’ve found that concept resonates with business owners better than “programs” or “tactics.” To a strategist, I realize my liberal use of the term is offensive. 🙂
My point is, establish your marketing Strategy, and then test new programs and tactics every month.
My experience is that more small businesses fail from sitting on a stale marketing Strategy than those who fail because they’re in action every month, testing, investing, busting their tails to find what works. That’s why I urge entrepreneurs to try something new each month. And, yes, the test must be tied to an overall Marketing Strategy… or else you’re slinging mud at the wall, hoping something sticks. That’s not the idea I’m advocating.