Most businesses make New Year’s Resolutions, but far fewer succeed at identifying how to make actionable and meaningful adjustments to their business. Here’s a look at some simple yet impactful ways you can improve your business this year.
Experiment with one new sales channel. When you’re in “run the engine” mode, you can’t know or understand whether or how you’re maximizing the most profitable ways to do business. Make a goal to add just one new sales channel to your business model this year, which may mean improving the ecommerce functionality of your existing website, selling a select group of products through a larger ecommerce provider, showcasing your goods at local events, or partnering with a local business or organization for special promotions that coincide with special events. Regardless of how successful the venture proves, one new sales channel doesn’t require that you overhaul your business model, hire a new team, or make a major investment—but it does provide you with one year’s worth of invaluable insights to better understand your customers, prospects, your brand’s real value and positioning, and the competitive landscape.
Leverage mobile technology. Mobile technology offers small business owners a more cost effective way to nearly anything, from scanning and transmitting sensitive paperwork, to hosting video conferences, to staying on top of customer concerns that are received after hours, or shared on social media. In many ways, it’s now the great equalizer between small businesses, and the world’s largest brands. If you haven’t already done so, choose a mobile payment provider that equips you to process customer and vendor payments anywhere, at any time. Not only does mobile payment processing eliminate the need to invest in pricey point of sale equipment, it involves very little wait time at “check out,” and gives customers the same flexible payment options they have with larger retailers. Additionally, adjust your web and email communications to accommodate mobile devices. Mobile users should be able to search your website easily, select and pay for items, and directly contact your business with the touch of a button. Similarly, MailChimp reports that at least half of all emails are now opened on a mobile device. Keep email copy concise and relevant, while minimizing the amount of scrolling (in any direction) that a mobile user must do to read your message.
Eliminate one thing. Changing how you do business can be scary, but the longer you hold on to a function that costs you more than it delivers in the form of an advantage, the longer you’re in a holding pattern. Consider just one thing about your business that could be better if you’d “let it go.” Whether that means outsourcing your accounting, web design and social media updates instead of handling the tasks on your own, ending frustrating relationships with habitually slow to pay clients, finally making the investment needed to improve weak branding, or even, firing a problem employee, make this the year you let go of one thing that’s not working. Once you do, it’s likely that the disaster you’ve imagined would ensue by making a change doesn’t happen—allowing you to become more proactive about making positive change in the future.
Make one new connection a week. “Who you know” remains a powerful force, especially for entrepreneurs who stand to gain a lot by the simple exchange of knowledge with like-minded business people. Make at least one new connection each week, and touch base again with that person within three days of meeting. Whether you follow up with a quick phone call or a simple, professional handwritten thank you note, you’ll slowly develop a network and support system to help you answer questions, and address future concerns—and fully enjoy the exciting and often ambiguous and unpredictable journey that is owning your own business.