As 2017 is taking shape, most of us are reflecting on the year past and making resolutions for the one to come.
In the process of setting goals for your business, you may be wondering what all you should be taking into consideration. We have built this list to help you in the process of learning how to scale your small business.
Review these 10 things that can help to start your 2017 off on the right foot.
Invest in developing yourself. If you own a business, you are the driving force, so it is most important that you are always learning and growing. Plan to spend time each week to expand your knowledge and expertise in your industry.
Check out the market you are in, monitor your competition, watch any developing trends, read books, and talk with influencers. By making this a regular part of your weekly habits, you can stay aware and knowledgeable about your business and where it should be going.
You also need to work on yourself personally. Staying focused and accomplishing your goals is paramount in business. Work hard, stay engaged, and don’t give up. This is the secret. Remind yourself every day of what you’re working towards.
Review your goals first thing in the morning and make it the last thing you do before going to bed. Write them on a whiteboard and hang them by your bed. Use a service to text you your goal every morning so you read it first thing when you wake up. Sing them. Chant them.
Whatever it takes, focus on your business and where you want it to be in the future. As Earl Nightingale said, “People with goals succeed because they know where they’re going.”
Ask Your Customers How You Can Serve Them
Few things help a business improve like a customer’s feedback, so #2 is to take some time to find out how happy your clients were in the past year. You can do this through a survey sent via email or social media. Ask customers about what they liked and what they would like to see improved.
Surveymonkey is a good one to check out.
Maybe you find that you are doing well in providing products your audience wants but your website experience is sub-par. By identifying any shortcomings, you can focus on improving in areas important to your customers.
Ask for More Referrals
If you already have a strong base of satisfied customers, you can use them to your advantage by asking for referrals. Plan a strategy that integrates the request for referrals into the post-purchase process. A great way to do this is with a coupon they receive for referring a friend who makes a purchase.
While many customers might refer their friends and family to your business, they don’t think about it, so it is your job to put it in their mind and give them an incentive.
Use Social Media to Your Advantage
Social media is simply a must-have for 2017. If you are not already present on the main social media platforms (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube), you are missing out. Now, the platforms you use will depend on the industry you are in as some are more suitable than others. For example, Instagram will be more effective for a clothing company and LinkedIn for a B2B service software company.
However, you should be experimenting to find which platforms work best and using multiple platforms to support each other. Grow your customer base, engage your audience, offer customer service, give your brand a face, and stay consistently in the minds of your customers through social media. Plan on investing a portion of your budget to these efforts.
Move to the Cloud
With a cloud-based system for operational tasks like computing, project management, document management, data storage, and accounting, you can streamline your operations. Not only can you clear out hefty filing cabinets or servers, but you can also reduce your carbon footprint while streamlining efficiency, enabling effortless scalability, increasing flexibility, and enabling remote work from anywhere.
Look into the options you have for moving different pieces of your business to the cloud. Here are PC Mag’s top 30 recommended cloud services for 2016.
Build Strategic Partnerships
For a small business, you can build a much bigger operation by developing the right relationships. By sticking to what you do well, and playing off the expertise of your partners, you can build the value of your brand without having to overstretch your resources. Look for other companies or organizations who would benefit mutually from a relationship with your company.
Review Your Website
A website is an asset that ages as technology advances, so you need to continuously give it a look and test things out to make sure that is still doing what you need it to do. Here’s a full run down of how to audit your website before kicking of the year.
Plan Your Editorial Calendar for Your Blog
If you run a regular blog, you are on the right track. Blogs are an important piece of content marketing and are a great way to keep your business in the mind of consumers. To get the most from your blog, you need to plan ahead. Identify the main goals of your blog, make an editorial calendar that lists when you want to have new posts published (You can do this in Google Calendar), plan the topics, and plan how you will get the blog written, edited and published.
Update Your Hashtags
The New Year is a good time to review your hashtag strategy. If you used hashtags in 2016, review how they performed. If you didn’t, do some research and brainstorming to decide what could work for this year. Do you want to use branding hashtags? Trending hashtags? Product hashtags? Which social media platforms are you going to target? By planning your strategy in advance, you can purposefully drive measurable growth with your hashtags in the upcoming year.
Audit Your Content Marketing Strategy
How is your overall content marketing strategy performing? Review the progress your blogs, guest posts, web pages, social media posts, infographics, videos, etc. made in the past year. Review what worked well and what didn’t so you can direct your efforts in the most profitable direction.
There are many paths to success. In addition to these tips, the most important thing a business needs to be successful in 2017 is a lot of hard work, determination, and drive to succeed. This alone may be the most important thing and perhaps the best indicator of future success: your desire, and ability, to work hard.
Do you need extra funds for your small business? An SBA loan is the best bet for small businesses with low rates, long terms and low monthly payments. Visit SmartBiz
About the Author
Jeffrey Nelson is a business professional by day and an online entrepreneur by night. He writes for several publications online on many topics from business to finance. One of his current passions is writing about online investing as he is experimenting with this himself.