Happy New Year!
The start of a brand new year is a great time psychologically to take stock, look at where you’re at and plan the year ahead.
So with that in mind, why not make some new year’s resolutions for your business, to ensure it stays on track and continues growing and improving this year. It will help to keep you positive and focused, and ensure you keep taking a pride in your pride and joy.
It will help you to act confidently and exude pride at all times, and customers will flock to you and tell their contacts, too.
So, coming up are my suggestions for 10 New Years Resolutions for your Business in 2018…
1) Make a Plan for the year… and stick to it!
If you haven’t already written a business plan, now’s definitely the time to do it. Even if it’s not going to be read by anybody but yourself, it can be invaluable to detach yourself psychologically from the day-to-day distractions of running your business and look objectively at what what you’re doing, and what you should be doing. You can set your goals and milestones along the way, and what you plan to do to achieve them. Once it’s written, stick to it, as it will act as an instruction manual for you every day! If you need help writing a business plan, see https://www.gov.uk/write-business-plan
2) Get out there and meet people
There’s nothing worse than being stuck in your office behind your desk all day, every day, answering emails and generally getting caught up in the daily grind. If your business is going to be successful you need to get out there and meet people – and those people need to meet YOU, too! Go to events, or join a co-working space. Some events are expensive whilst some are free, so there’s really no excuse not to go. What events does your industry put on?
Working from home can be great and I’m definitely not knocking it, especially if you have equipment or a workshop or studio setup at home – but maybe don’t work from home every single day of the year otherwise it’s easy to get stuck in a rut. Co-working spaces like AvenueHQ here in Liverpool are gaining in popularity and cropping up in cities all over the world, and it’s not difficult to see why. Apart from just getting you out of the house, they’re a great way to allow sole traders, individuals and small businesses to mix and network and it’s a great way to meet new faces, share ideas and even pick up new clients and customers!
3) Improve your website – for your visitors and for Google
Does your website clearly portray and explain what your business does, and the products and services you provide? Does it do justice to your brand and all the hard work you’ve put in over the years?
If the answer to any of those questions is no, then it might be time to invest some time and money into improving your website before you waste money on advertising, which will just bring lots of customers to your website who will quickly press “back” when they don’t find what they’re looking for or feel confident in your abilities.
Whilst you’re getting your website looking and feeling its best, don’t forget to put SEO – that’s Search Engine Optimisation – at the heart of your strategy to ensure that lots of people find you in organic web searches. If your website is built using WordPress, you could do a lot worse than using the Yoast SEO plugin. Also don’t forget to make sure that it’s as visible as possible to Google by setting up Google Webmaster Tools.
If you’re not technically-minded or don’t have the time, then this is definitely an area where you should get an expert in to advise and/or do the work for you. Set aside a decent chunk of your budget for this; it’ll be money well spent and should be seen as an investment which will more than pay for itself.
I may be slightly biased, but my company Innobella Media can help you out with all of this. See the video description for details!
4) Get a Proper email address with your domain!
This is one of the silliest mistakes many small business owners make, and yet one of the easiest to avoid. You pay the fee for your domain name (eg. mynewbusiness.co.uk) and proudly display the URL for your shiny new website, www.mynewbusiness.co.uk and yet go and plonk a free advert for your old email provider on your van: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org – it makes no sense, and it looks AWFUL!
Instead, sign up for Gmail For Business so that you can create as many mailboxes as you like (eg. for different staff members eg. email@example.com, as well as generic eg. firstname.lastname@example.org)
Your business, and all your marketing, signage, business cards etc. will immediately look much more professional, and you’ll give your customers the confidence that they’re dealing with a proper, well-structured company. Plus keeping everyone on the same domain makes managing the operation much easier.
You can get a 14-day free trial of Gmail for Business by clicking this link (https://goo.gl/XZdg2C), and if you message us privately we can give you a code to get a nice discount off your first year. No excuses now!
5) Improve efficiency within your business with collaborative tools like Google Calendar, Sheets, Docs, etc.
Sticking with G suite for number 5, it’s not just Gmail for Business that you get, you also get access to Google’s excellent cloud-based collaborative tools such as Google Calendar, Drive, Docs and other tools that are great for collaboration and allow you to get things done from any location, on any device.
Just as with Gmail for Business, you can get a 14-day free trial of G Suite by clicking this link (https://goo.gl/XZdg2C), and if you message us privately we can give you a code to get a discount off your first year. We’ve always got lots to give away, so don’t be shy, sign up with our link and then send us a message on either Twitter, Facebook or Instagram!
6) Use technology to be smarter – Automate mundane tasks to save time
Spend less time on operational tasks and more time making your business a big success. Check out MailChimp and their fantastic Marketing Automation tools, run a competition to promote your brand using Rafflecopter or simply set up a Google Sheet to track your business mileage automatically.
For the more boring financial aspects of your business, speak to your accountant about cloud-based services like Xero and Receipt Bank and how these can save you time and money. If your accountant doesn’t use them, it might be time to look for a new accountant!
There are lots of other ways you can use technology to help you with everyday tasks. What do you do? Let me know in the comments!
7) Take online payments better
This one’s true even if your business works primarily offline by meeting customers and doing work one-one-one, but it’s especially relevant if your website is your primary means of doing business with your customers. Either way, you’ll want to make it as easy as possible for them to pay you whilst making it easy for you to manage, too. This way, you won’t have to make awkward phone calls to customers chasing payment, and you’ll get paid more quickly too.
You should already be using something like Xero to manage your accounts and invoicing, and you can combine that with something like Stripe to accept credit card payments worldwide in Pounds, Euros and Dollars. To accept regular payments via Direct Debit, consider someone like GoCardless.
8) Engage better with your customers & make good use of online video
If you don’t already have a presence on the main social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn (oh yes, and Google+ too…) and then you should do, as people will already be talking about and discussing you on these platforms, so you should really join in. They’re great ways to engage with your customers, inform them of your services and give help when they need it. If you need a helping hand managing your profile on all the different networks, try a management platform such as Hootsuite or SocialPilot.
Don’t forget that there are other ways of engaging with your customers too, though. I’m talking about the old-fashioned traditional method of standing a metre or two away from someone and speaking using your mouth. Go to events, organise meetups and offer to pay your clients a visit once in a while to catch up and review how well you’re working together. It will pay dividends, literally.
You should also make sure you’re making effective use of online video to promote your brand, explain things to your customers or inspire and motivate your employees. Study after study has shown how much more people take in and remember from watching a video rather than reading text, so if you’re not using video then this really is a wasted opportunity. Plus, it’s often reckoned that Google favours websites which include good videos as it considers them to be rich in high-quality content and thus better for visitors, so you’ll be more likely to turn on the first page of search results.
Time for another shameless plug for my business! Innobella Media can help you with your videos and even help you launch and run a YouTube channel for your business. Take a look in the video description for more details.
9) Get a Professional business phone number
Sign up for Vonage and get a free £50 Amazon voucher after 60 days: https://goo.gl/e9Wc7x
If you’re still advertising your mobile phone number – or even worse, your home landline – as your business telephone number then let today be the day you do something about that. Unless the business you run relies on the very personal, ultra-local one-man-band type setup, in which case you can skip this one, a more business-oriented phone number inspires much more confidence in would-be new customers as it makes a far better first impression. It also allows you to distinguish between business and personal calls, so you never run the risk of answering a sales call in an unprofessional manner because customers are calling your personal mobile.
I’d recommend signing up for someone like Vonage, for a number of reasons. Unlike a normal landline setup, you’re not tied down to one particular physical place – you can take your phone with you wherever you like because you make and receive calls either on an IP phone in your office plugged into your broadband connection, or on your smartphone via the mobile app.
If you don’t have an IP phone or you’d rather use a standard phone you have lying around, you can get a little box which plugs into your router (or a switch on your network) and then a normal phone can plug into that.
Because the call handling happens in the cloud, there are lots of business-friendly features which means you can do handy things like record your phone calls, play “we’re closed” messages based on your opening hours, set up menu options, and view detailed statistics of who’s called your number and when. And those features are just the tip of the iceberg – check the link in the video description for more details.
10) Take time off to recharge
Last but not least, be really careful to avoid burnout this year, especially if you’ve recently started your business and there’s lots to do and get set up. It’s crucial to make time for the important things in life like family, friends and hobbies. It might be tempting to work every hour under the sun on your business, but if you burn yourself out you’ll actually work less efficiently and be less focussed at work, resulting in lower productivity. It also helps to have something exciting (like a holiday) to look forward to as it spurs you on, and you can always reward yourself with an early dart now and again when you’ve achieved a big milestone. You deserve it!
That’s it! What are your new years resolutions going to be for this year? Let us know in the comments below and if you’ve been inspired by any of my suggestions please give this video a thumbs up and share it with your friends and business contacts.
If you’ve not done so already, subscribe to Switched On Network to get all our latest videos as soon as they go out – it’s free, so hit that subscribe button now! Once you done that you can check out some of our other videos and don’t forget to check out this video’s sponsor; Gmail for Business. See in you in the next video, and Happy New Year!