Whether you’ve had a bumper year or a bummer year there are still things you can do to improve and prepare yourself for the best year ever. Here are some of my tips for business New Year resolutions.
Sort out your top 20 per cent
Have you noticed how each year you are in business, things change? Customers change, customer’s profitability changes and sometimes the importance of particular customers to your business can change. It is important to get an idea of which customers are most profitable for your business right now versus the ones that are not. This New Year take the time to have a look. Make sure you spend your time on the customers that are making you money. If a customer is damaging for your business; either they take up too much time, are late to pay, are never satisfied or constantly try and beat you down on price, it might be time to show them the door.
Set some targets
What do you want to achieve this year? Without goals it is hard to get ahead, so the challenge is to spend a little bit of time thinking about what you want to achieve in the next 12 months. It might be as simple as writing down your sales goals and how you think you are going to get there. This doesn’t have to take long, nor do you have to write it down in a complex document. A piece of paper with what you are wanting to achieve stuck onto your office wall is a good starting place. If you look at it every day – you will be well on your way to achieving those goals.
Take time to review – measure and evaluate what’s worked and what hasn’t
What marketing worked, what marketing didn’t work so well? You can also review a whole range of areas of your business including suppliers, cashflow, workflow, staff, equipment, which investments in your business paid off which ones didn’t. It’s great to write in a book what you learnt from mistakes made. It’s one of the delicious ironies of running a small business; the mistakes we usually learn the most from are the most expensive ones. (But don’t feel bad about making mistakes; if you’re not making mistakes then you are playing it too safe).
Try something new
This might be a new way of marketing. Sometimes a new form of marketing may give you a great return on investment but you have to give a go to find out. I always suggest having a marketing experiment budget for just this purpose. It’s always good to try your hand at some new technology as it will keep your technophobia at bay and stop you getting too far behind younger generations. This might be getting a smart phone or dabbling in social media . Things are changing and it’s much better to go with the change than resist it. Technology is very much a part of our world and it certainly is the way of the future. Make it a resolution to keep in touch.
Find out what your customers really think
A good New Year’s Resolution is to conduct a customer satisfaction survey. You can get great information such as whether customers are likely to do business with you again and if you are pricing too high or low. It can be scary getting the feedback but invaluable for moving forward in your business.
Enter a business award
There are some great benefits to be made from entering business awards. You gain focus and learn a lot just through the process of preparing your application. Then if you are successful enough to be a finalist or even win, of course there are plentiful marketing bonuses for your business.
Review your website
Read through your website and correct out-of-date information. It’s once a year – you can do it! You’ll feel so much better and your customers will thank you.
Book a holiday
Too many business owners work themselves into the ground. If you love being in business and have been in business full time for more than 3 years then you need to make it sustainable or else you can work yourself to death. Your business, your customers and your family will all benefit from you being more rested and relaxed. So book a holiday. I know as the business owner it’s hard to take time off but take some time off. Start with a day and go away for a long weekend then work up to a week. Why be in business if you can’t have the life you want?
Ailsa Page is a strategic marketing specialist for AP Marketing Works based in Melbourne. Ailsa has been a judge for the Telstra Women's Business Awards for 7 years and is the author of The Shoe String Marketing Kit for Small Business and The Year I owned a Wine Shop.