As you make a start on sticking to your personal resolutions for the New Year, have you given any thought to business resolutions too?
If you haven’t, here are seven small business resolutions for success!
1. Go green
Think about ways to reduce waste in your business and investigate ways to recycle or reuse what you throw away. Could you reduce packaging on your products or make it more environmentally-friendly? What about swapping to environmentally-friendly cleaning products?
Also consider how you could reduce your water and energy use, and look into greener energy (both producing it yourself and purchasing your energy from green energy companies). When making new purchases, look for A-rated appliances and power-saving office equipment; energy-saving light bulbs; LED spotlights; T5 tubes to replace old fluorescent strip-lights; and even an eco-kettle for the staff room.
Seek out online and cloud solutions for your IT needs, reducing your outlay and reliance on expensive, space-hogging equipment and plastic-and-metal, hard to recycle, CD ROMs. Repair rather than replace when it’s economically viable to do so, and choose products made from sustainably-sourced materials.
If you’re keen to go green but lack the funds to do so, there are many grants and loans available to help. Check out Small Businesses: Get a Grant for Going Green for more information.
2. Look after your staff
Make sure you’re listening to them, and giving them the incentives, training, rewards and fun they need. Are they happy with their work environment? Are you looking after their physical and mental health needs at work? Are there opportunities for them to gain skills or qualifications? Do you organise regular social events, even if that’s just going out for lunch together once a month?
3. Make sure the right tasks are being done by the right people
Not everyone could do what you do and many would fail dismally if they tried; yet they will have their own set of skills that you couldn’t replicate successfully either. Learn to recognise those tasks that you do slowly or less than expertly, and ensure you delegate or outsource them to someone who can do them more efficiently than you.
Website design and accountancy are two areas best left to the experts (unless they happen to be the skills your own small business is based on!). Your site will look better, work more smoothly and rank higher in searches if designed by an expert, and an accountant will deal with HMRC for you and sort your tax returns in a fraction of the time it takes you (they’ll usually save you money too, as they know exactly how to handle your finances to your maximum financial advantage).
4. Improve your cash flow
Before you protest that your cash flow problems are nearly all due to late payers and you’re therefore powerless to improve your cash flow, take stock of your practices.
Do you invoice swiftly? Are your payment terms (and the consequences for failing to meet them) clearly stated on your invoices? Do you keep track of your invoices, sending reminders before and after they’re due? And do you add interest and fees to late invoices, as you’re legally allowed to do, which may deter those customers from paying late again?
The FSB (Federation of Small Businesses) cautions against extending credit terms to your customers without knowing whether they will be able to pay, and recommends using online services to check commercial credit reports.
While good months may inspire an impulsive decision to take a bonus or invest in something expensive for the business, bear in mind that it’s good to have some spare cash in your business—and that sooner or later, your tax bill will arrive!
5. Revamp and renew your online presence
- Freshen up the look of your website and ensure it’s attractive, simple to use, easy to navigate, and mobile-friendly. People are increasingly searching online on their phones or tablets rather than t PCs or laptops, even when at home, and you risk losing their trade if your site doesn’t work effectively on their device.
- Include a blog on your website and ensure you update it regularly, even if the posts are short. Search engines like fresh content and so do customers.
- Ensure you have a presence on at least two of the major social media platforms—and either spend time learning how to promote yourself on them or hire someone else to do it! There are various tools you can use to cross-post, but each platform has a different feel and audience, so it’s best to tailor at least some of your posts to an individual platform.
- Investigate online advertising and experiment with it, ensuring you take note of what works and what doesn’t.
- Develop an email marketing list if you don’t already have one, but be sure to comply by GDPR and email marketing law. Ensure every email includes an unsubscribe link that works, and don’t bombard customers with constant emails.
6. Hone your skills
None of us are born naturally brilliant at everything, and it’s likely you’re now undertaking tasks you’ve had no proper training in. While sometimes, the solution to this is to delegate or outsource (as mentioned above), at other times, it’s important to invest in training, whether that’s in marketing, social media, business administration, managing staff or recruitment.
Networking with other businesses and their owners can be a real help to your business, whether they’re local, in a similar industry or both. It’s a chance to share expertise, learn from others, increase awareness of your business, get referrals, and forge partnerships and mutually beneficial deals. By working together, small businesses can access services, deals and discounts they wouldn’t be able to qualify for or afford by themselves.
What changes are you making to your business in 2019? Do you have business-based New Year’s resolutions? Share them with our readers.