A New Year can mean a new chapter for you and your small business. Year-end is a time to review and reflect on achievements, successes and lessons learned. Whether 2016 means continuing down the path you started or pivoting and charting a new course, be sure to take the opportunity to set some new goals. Here are 8 resolutions for your small business for 2016:
- Make Time for Planning
Whether your small business is a new startup or a well established business, a new year is always a good opportunity to take a fresh look at everything from operations to long-term goals. Give yourself permission to step away from the day-to-day and do some research, brainstorming and planning so that you have a clear roadmap for the year ahead. Sometimes it helps to book a meeting room offsite or even set up in a coffee shop somewhere away from your usual workplace so you can focus on big picture thinking without distractions.
- Explore New Payment Options
Fintech (financial technology) is one of the fastest growing areas of business in North America, and whether your small business is B2B or B2C, chances are a slew of new payment technologies and innovations have cropped up over the last year alone. Expanding and rethinking payment options can not only increase sales, it can drive customer loyalty and word-of-mouth referrals. It can also transform that way your business is perceived by customers and clients - your small business will be viewed as innovative, progressive and forward-thinking if cutting-edge technology is made to be part of the customer experience.
- Experiment More
Make this the year that you push yourself, your team and your vendors and partners outside of your comfort zone. Applying a scientific approach to various aspects of your business can lead to new insights, discoveries and innovations. We’re not saying abandon the tried, tested and true - it could be as simple as consciously doing one small thing slightly differently to observe the effect. For instance try “A/B testing” with signage to see which messages are more effective, or experiment with different hours to see the impact on sales and productivity.
- Think Mobile First
More than ever, small businesses are embracing the importance of an online presence. In fact many new businesses are either selling services online (e-commerce) or collecting information online in the form of applications, registrations or contact forms, making your website a key part of doing business. But the game is changing constantly, and while most sites are optimized for the desktop experience, users are increasingly moving to mobile as their first touchpoint with your brand. Businesses are increasingly adopting a “mobile first” mentality, ensuring their websites are not only responsive but that mobile is considered at all levels of business including the development of apps or by providing service, alerts and targeted marketing messages through SMS.
- Say No
If last year was the year of taking everything on, make 2016 the year of focus. Saying no to new business, partnerships or other opportunities can be very difficult, but practicing some discipline here can pay off greatly in the long-run. Think quality over quantity, less is more. Seek out opportunities that align with your long-term business objectives, work that can be showcased in your portfolio and projects that align with your core values and beliefs. Look for “leaky holes” in your business - ventures that drain energy and resources with little return - and patch them up once and for all.
- Schedule Face-to-Face Time
Kick off the new year with some good old fashioned face-to-face time with partners, clients, customers and vendors. Face time is underrated in today’s fast-paced global economy, where skype meetings and conference calls are commonplace. But as a small business operating within your community, there is a great opportunity to strengthen and solidify key business relationships with in-person meetings in both formal and informal settings.
- Invest in Growth
Resolve to seek out growth in 2016 through strategic investments. Whether investing in people, product innovation or expansion, starting the year with a low-rate, flexible loan can position your small business for accelerated growth in the months ahead. When it comes to growth, the old adage is often true: You have to spend money to make money.
- Boost Productivity
There is only one of you, so make it your new year’s resolution to leverage tools that enhance your productivity. We recently compiled a comprehensive list of apps and software dedicated to small business productivity - but there are dozens if not hundreds more out there. A few hours spent researching productivity apps and cloud-based business solutions can result in countless hours saved down the road.